A Very Bloggy Xmas Day 9
Roughly a month ago my good friend Syl came to me with the idea of her Bloggy Xmas event. I took a stab at a logo, and she finished it off to what we have above. From there I was essentially drafted into the process, and was certain I would be slotted for one of the days. It seems that fate determined that mine would be today. The idea behind the countdown was to have an advent calendar of sorts leading up to Christmas, and apparently in her country it is tradition for all of the little villages to decorate their windows taking on one of the days. I have struggled with what exactly to do for this, but it seems like most of the other participants have decorated their blog with a somewhat personal story. As such I am guessing that is the direction I am taking as well.
Bel’s Magical Van
For quite literally over a decade now, I have had friends that have joked about me and my white panel van full of candy. Because how else could I seem to keep recruiting people into whatever mad adventure I have planned. In fact the guild that I founded is based upon this concept of never openly recruiting… but always recruiting. I have always had this irrational desire to try and collect as many awesome people around me as I can, and as I play games or socialize online… I am always looking for more people to stuff in my van and whisk away into my extended family. That is ultimately what I am building, a big network of extended family for me to play games with, and all joking aside it really isn’t something that I do intentionally. I have this overriding sense that everyone deserves a good home, and when I see someone without one… I tend to try and adopt the strays. I mean there is a reason why until this weekend we had four rescue cats and two rescue ferrets… I have a hard time saying no when any thing needs a good home.
If you want to find the reasons behind why I am the way I am you have to scroll back through my history to my childhood. I was the single child of two very loving parents, or as we in the united states call it an “only child”. To make matters worse we lived out in the country, or at least too far from city to make meeting up with friends a practical occasion. I didn’t have the normal cadre of neighbor kids to run around with, and being a sickly child I spend most of afternoons with Mr Rogers, Electric Company and the Sesame Street gang. I got exceptionally good at entertaining myself a trait that I am thankful for today, but I also longed to have other people to play with. I was more or less raised by my grandmother, as she was my babysitter and companion during my formative years. While she was awesome, she was also busy with the chores around the farm. I can pretty much guarantee however that it is her that taught me to love games. Her default “Idle animation” was sitting at the table playing solitaire, and we also played together absolutely insane amounts of trouble and candy land.
Wanting a Tribe
I remember the most exciting times for me were the times when my cousins would come to visit and I was suddenly surrounded by other kids my age. I remember wanting a baby brother or sister so bad, so I could have someone to play with whenever. I would have been an awesome brother… well pending they were willing to submit to playing whatever game I wanted to play. During my elementary and middle school years, I pretty much spent my weekends “grouped up” with friends at either their house or mine. Instead of one best friend I had two, and it pretty much stayed that way until high school. I’ve always had this strange dichotomy inside of me… I want to be surrounded by people… but when I have them I never quite know what to do with them. I’ve used the term “alone in a crowd” before to describe how it feels. Engaging at the level that I want to engage takes a lot out of me, so I have to take these periods to essentially hibernate and draw strength to engage again.
I’ve always built “tribes” for as long as I can remember. I never just played with one other person… I tried to assemble groups of people to play with. I had an unusual upbringing for being a pretty hardcore geek. The traditional American experience for a 30-40 year old geek is that of being the misfit and being picked on. Since my parents friends kids ended up growing up to become the popular kids, and also as a side effect of growing up in a very small town… I was given a lot more acceptance that I likely would have gotten anywhere else in the world. Folks took my quirks as just “me being me” and pretty much left me alone, and I guess it doesn’t hurt that I am 6’4” and no one really seemed to want to mess with me. In High School I kinda gathered up misfits that needed a home around me, the folks that WERE picked on mercilessly. By my association with them it extended them a small bubble of protection… and I guess I became a tank for the first time. It taught me that I actually liked protecting people, I liked feeling like I was helping my friends.
A Digital Family
When I entered the internet age, all of these instincts and traits that I picked up along the way followed me as well. I found it hard to think of the people I was interacting with as “just pixels”, and in fact I am fundamentally opposed to that line of thinking. When you encounter another person, they have hopes, dreams and aspirations… and we have all arrived online for different reasons. I started sifting through the folks I encountered and trying to keep “the good ones”. When I found someone that needed a home, and wanted to participate in a larger community… I started trying to stuff them in my pocket and carry them with me from that point on. It wasn’t long before I had amassed this large network of people that I wanted to stay in touch with for as long as I could. In my own family, I have never really felt like they understood me. They are extremely loving and nurturing, but I have never fit the mold that they seemed to want to press me into. What I realized years ago is that online I was assembling my own family, the one that does fully understand me… and appreciates the nuance of my character. At this point I have encountered quite literally multiple thousands of other players… and from those I have adopted a fraction… but still a large enough group that this community of contacts is also literally thousands of players. With the transient nature of the internet, folks come and go, but the memories they leave behind is nonetheless important. I feel like it is my job to act as the glue, to try and bind this digital family together. The problem is I am never quite satisfied, and keep meeting awesome and interesting people along the way. I will continue trying to stuff these people into my van and adopt them into my family. I’ve been called many things in my pursuit… the Cruise Director, a Bus Driver, an Ombudsman, I even had one former guildie refer to me as the “Prom Queen” because everyone seemed to know me. At the end of the day I just want to surround myself in a blanket of awesome people to share my game time with, and I feel like that job will never be finished. If you need a good home, and are community minded… chances are I will try and adopt you too.