My first day in SL, when I came around the second time, my long-time friend, who now does not frequent SL as much as she used to, took me to the Helping Haven Gateway – a standard pit stop for new comers who knew someone in SL already. I had mentioned in my very first article of the warm welcome every newcomer gets there. I felt I was home.
I also got extremely lucky to right away meet someone who was a veteran in SL, having helped over 15,000 people at the Gateway. I say extremely lucky since, though it might have been standard procedure, she showed me around the place, told me how things worked around here, the dos and don’ts, even got me a boat ride, but most importantly, talked to me.
Our conversations were always casual, very rarely drifting from SL to real life, but it was always interesting. On the few occasions we did talk about our real lives, it was just touch and go. Over the next few weeks, while I explored some new realms and had casual hi’s and hellos with some unassuming folks, there was never a real conversation with anyone. That made our conversations back ‘home’ something I looked forward to. It became standard practice to almost expect her to be around somewhere and strike up a conversation that would meander everywhere. And that, made our conversations all the more interesting, for I never knew what we were going to discuss on a given day.
The second person I met there got me into writing. I had secretly dreamt of seeing my writings splashed across somewhere for people to read, but had never thought I would be part of a blog someday, and that too in SL! She urged me to write and blessed my writings with the power of free will. The shackles of fear now no longer binding me, I let my thoughts loose on paper. She read it, appreciated it, enhanced it, put it up in her blog. She even gave me a section to myself and then urged me to think free and write free. The assessment of what I wrote got us conversing at a totally bandwidth. I could hit her with jargons and she would assault me with metaphors. As a result, I have had some of my most intellectual and light hearted, humorous conversations with her. That too became staple diet.
I did not realise how much the conversations mattered till one day one of my friends went away on holiday for a few days. Even though I knew what to expect once I logged in, I felt a tinge of emptiness minus our routine conversations. What had by now become an expectation was suddenly not there. It was like you don’t realise you are breathing till you think about it. I wasn’t feeling lonely, just felt something was sorely amiss. Yes, I almost got over it in a couple of days, too, laughing at myself that I let real feelings mix with inanimate avatars. But I also realized the power of conversations was so real in this world with its eclectic mix of make-believe. Conversations, it is what makes our emotions so real!