One of my pastimes then was playing games online. Yes, I'm a closet nerd. Kind of a big one. Anyway, at the time I was playing a game called EverQuest. It was a wonderful way to spend my dark winter evenings, and because it was an online game, I could even claim to be somewhat social while I was doing it. I did meet lots of great people, many of whom I'm still friends with now.
But there is one who stands out.
If you don't like nerdy things, just go ahead and close your browser now.
I was hunting one night with my elf character in the Lake of Ill Omen. (How is it that I remember the names 15 years later but I cannot remember what I walked into a different room for?) went to a merchant to sell some of my loot. Sitting in the tower that housed the merchant was a fine specimen of Barbarian manliness.
Yes, I'm laughing as I type this. Completely hilarious that I remember all of this.
I don't know if I was bored or what, but I decided to strike up a conversation with this guy. We started chatting about the game and such, and soon we were having a great time talking about all sorts of different things.
Eventually, I learned that the person behind that character was actually a woman, not a man, and that she lived four time zones away near Boston.
Over the course of the next months and years, we grew so very close. It started with a silly video game and a couple of twenty-somethings on opposite ends of the country. She was in college and living with her boyfriend; I was working and living with a guy I was stuck in Friendville with.
Today, we are both happily married with kids and houses and pets and white picket fences. Well, we WOULD have white picket fences if such a thing existed. We compare notes and commiserate on motherhood, wifehood, life in suburbia, being working moms, the whole bit.
I can easily say that she is my closest friend. She is kind and thoughtful and funny and just talking to her makes me feel great, no matter what else is going on. She understands me on every level (well, as much as anyone can ever understand me!) and she might be the only person on the planet that I can tell anything to - ANYTHING - and not even worry she will think less of me. Sometimes we talk every day and sometimes we go two months without talking. And when we do, we pick right back up where we left off as if no time had passed. Our relationship is so special to me.
So it's that much more bizarre, and kind of a shame, that we have never met. I've been thinking about that a lot lately. As we approach my first flight in seven years, I wonder if one of the payoffs of this trip will be the freedom for me to travel more, and therefore to finally meet my Lisa. I hope so.
The other day we were talking about stuff - just stuff - and I made a couple of self-deprecating jokes about my weight. I'm very hard on myself about my weight. She stopped the conversation immediately and said something like, "okay I let the first one go and there's another one, knock that off." She might be the only person in the world who can say that to me without me either blowing her off or reacting in a negative way. Immediately I knew she was right and I changed my thought process. Just like that, even if only for a short time, she made me a better person. She does that a lot.
I told her about how I'd read somewhere that people in my situation can benefit from a vision board, anchored by a picture of the person as a child. Around that picture, you are supposed to place other pictures of family members, or fit people, or inspirational quotes, or anything that motivates you to be better at whatever you are working on. If you start being mean to yourself, you're supposed to look at the picture of that child and ask yourself if you'd let someone talk to that child that way. The whole concept is pretty powerful. We talked about how that seemed like a wonderful idea, but that I had just never gotten around to it.
Shortly thereafter, our conversation ended (not because of the previous comments!).
A little while later, I found this in my email with a caption explaining that she made this for me so that I could have my vision board and not have it be one of my "to-do's" anymore, looming over me like another chore on a long list.
She had nabbed that picture from my Facebook account and created this mini vision board from it. For no other reason other than to make me feel better about myself.
How lucky am I to have someone who cares so much about me and with no agenda? Who would have thought that a couple of 21-22 year old girls who met on a video game would have this relationship 15 years later?
Definitely not me.
I came home and printed this, then laminated it, and it's been on my kitchen table since. I'll hang it up once I figure out where it should go, but for now the table is the perfect place for it. I see it multiple times a day and I smile and think maybe - just maybe - I am worth this.
And I'm not sure anyone could convince me of that like she does.