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Monday, September 27, 2004

THE WASHU OF FATE

... continued from last Friday, which was continued, in turn, from the Wednesday before it.

So after a day of delays and a long flight, Damien Fate found himself standing alone at an airport terminal somewhere in the American Midwest, more than four thousand miles from his home in England, waiting to meet a woman he'd fallen in love with months ago, but had never actually met. And for a moment there, without even knowing, she was closer to him than she'd ever been before.

"He was lookin' the other way in the airport when I came up to him," Washu Zebrastripe tells me, "And he stood up and turned around, and there I was. Like two inches from him.

"If he was nervous at all," Washu observes, "I scared it outta him."

"Scared me to death," Damien agrees. "But we hugged straight away."

I'm standing with the couple in their Second life home, but now that Damien is back in England, this is the closest they'll be together for the time being. Fate slips a series of digital photos into my archive, and when I open them, a cascade of images appear, documenting their time together in the material realm. (Which in this case, means a hotel near Washu's home.) I feel obliged to provide a running commentary as I flip through the images:

"Washu in the hotel!... Washu and Damien hugging!... ["We did that a lot," Fate interjects.] On the bed chillin'!.... Posing at the hotel, Damien looking somewhat like Elijah Wood in this shot... Damien with long sleeves, Washu looking beguiling!... Ah, the strong man pose, holding her up!" ["We had the same shot in Second Life," Fate explains, "so we did it real life."]

But since the story is fully theirs, perhaps it's better to let them finish it in their own words...

ON WHAT SURPRISED THEM MOST, SEEING EACH OTHER FOR THE FIRST TIME

Damien Fate:
Her eyes. They weren't as clear on camera, but they really grabbed
me in real life. The colour is a kind of grey/green which goes great
with her auburn hair.

Seeing her on Webcam and in pictures so much before meeting, there was no great big surprise when seeing her that first time-- other than that she looked even better... [Y]ou can only see someone online in two dimensions, it's not quite real...

So you build up an image in your mind of them in real life.

When you dream, you wonder. Is she really that pretty in real life? Is it even possible? I was pleasantly surprised by seeing first hand that, yes, she really is that beautiful.

But the main thing [about her eyes] was how I felt when I looked into them. It was a feeling I had waited for for a long time... We were already in love, it just felt like falling in love again when I saw her for the first time.

Washu Zebrastripe:
Hum... uh... Probably how comfortable he was with me, I expected him to be more shy about everything. It is a bit hard to tell how forward a person will be when you meet them online, you know?

But was she shy?

Hum, well. I was me. That's hard to explain, but I don't really think I was too shy about it. I mean, it's Damien. What do I need to be shy about?

ON WHAT THEY DID THEIR FIRST DAY TOGETHER, FROM THE AIRPORT ONWARD

Washu Zebrastripe:
Well, we ran outta the airport, 'cause he's been in the damn things for two days! We went to my car, and he tried to get in on the wrong side. I was very excited though!

I talked a bit about how I was glad he finally got here, and how bad I felt that I made him have to be in airport hell for two days.

And then we drove to the hotel. He was worried it wouldn't let him in at 11pm, and where he would go if they didn't. Well, they let us in, but they asked a lot of questions... His address, which was way too long for the computer, and they kept misspelling it. It wouldn’t take his zipcode at all, and his phone number was too long! They kept joking with us, and it was very amusing.

We got to the room and he asked to take a shower... I sat on the bed and watched TV. When he got out, we said "Yay!" And drove to get something to eat. Then we got to the restaurant and sat down... the waitress tried to mimic his accent, which she couldn't do. We laughed, and we grabbed each others' hands, and he kissed mine. It was just so exciting to see him in person. A relief, even. Because I've wanted to for SO long.

... and then [we] did some shopping together. First night together, and already acting all domestic.

ON THEIR FIRST REAL KISS

Damien Fate:
We were both hugging each other on my first night there. It was really late, about 4AM, I think. Washu layed down in bed and so did I. Then we kissed.

Washu Zebrastripe:
Then I fell asleep.


ON TAKING THINGS SLOW

Damien Fate:
Well, slow or fast depends on your views of online relationship. I think online things can become deeper quicker, but I can't say if we were going too slow or too fast... it was more a case of we were going at a pace which felt right for us. We knew after a couple of weeks of dating online that it would be cool to meet up, so that's when I bought the tickets forty nine days in advance. We thought that would give us even more time to get to know each other while we waited for the day to come when met... We went out on a LOT of dates, though.

Washu Zebrastripe:
We did. And we went to my mother's house. We went out to eat a lot. Fondue, Mexican, Mongolian... A walk along the river, to my favorite part of the city.

Damien Fate:
We even went to see a musical! The Producers by Mel Brooks. It was awesome, though. We got dressed up all smart for it, and were warmly welcomed for it.

A great final date. That was on Thursday-- I had to leave Friday morning.


ON THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING IN-WORLD, NOW THAT THEY KNOW EACH OTHER

Washu Zebrastripe:
I think we're more comfortable with each other, joke around a bit more? It's hard to tell so far, it's only been a few days.

Damien Fate:
[Being in] Second Life together is pretty much the same as it was before... we've always gotten on very well, so things haven't changed that much. But we're both happier.

ON WHERE THEY GO FROM HERE

Washu Zebrastripe:
Well, I want to go and try to live with him, in the UK. I don't like where I live and I love to travel anyways, so I think it would be fun to go over there. I don't know when it will be, we are working it out at the moment.

All I care about is seeing him again.

Never been [to England]! I’ve been to Canada a few times is all. I'm not scared... the change will be exciting. I can't get a job [there], but I make a bit off of Second Life... I make wigs. I sell a lot of them! I make about L$10,000 a week. Plus I can do little babysitting jobs and stuff that won't require a visa.

Who knows [when I go]! Before Christmas, I hope.

Damien Fate:
[S]he can legally stay in the UK for six months before having to return home again. But she can fly back to renew the six months visa. We'll be able to do that.

I have a good job in graphic design in real life, but Second Life provides a nice bit of pocket money... [I design] clothes mainly, but the latest things I have made and sold in collaboration with Fizik Baskerville as part of the avalon.brand are Kicks (prim shoes) and the avalon.mobile, which works as a portable photo album attached to your hip.

To legally work in the UK she would need a work permit, but they're difficult to get. Mainly you need to have a job lined up before you even enter the country (which is pretty hard) and there are sponsorships too, I think. It's not really as one way as that, we both also earn from Second Life.

We'd be supporting each other.

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Comments

Very awesome story. You two seem meant for each other; I wish you both the best!

Posted by: Lordfly Digeridoo at Sep 27, 2004 9:48:12 AM

I agree. Great story!

Posted by: urizenus sklar at Sep 27, 2004 10:13:59 AM

Thanks for writing up our story, Hamlet. As always you've done a great job with it! Both Erika and myself loved it :D We'll gladly let update you in a couple of months!

Posted by: Damien Fate at Sep 27, 2004 2:58:46 PM

Wow, how that brings back memories. The hugs at the airport, the shower at the hotel followed by late night eating (We went to In-and-Out, didn't have a car, so we walked up to the drive-thru window!) Oh, yes, and then staying awake till 4 a.m. the first night too. The trying to fit in as many dates as possible in the one week (Universal Studios, Huntington Gardens, Italian restaurants).

And of course, the plans for one to move permanently. It's like watching our own story over again, but the adapted movie version or something...

Posted by: Lisse Livingston at Sep 27, 2004 5:48:00 PM

YAY!

I am so happy for the two of you. You two are perfect together. Hopefully, soon, Jennyfur and I will be saying, "We're going to see Damien AND Washu in London!"

Posted by: FlipeprPA at Sep 29, 2004 10:56:02 AM

What a cute story! Life really does take a turn for the better when you least expect it, and it's great to hear about people making the leap from happiness online to happiness in RL. Good luck and best wishes for Washu and Damien!

Posted by: Snark Serpentine at Sep 29, 2004 11:05:08 AM

Mimi,
First of all, SL is not a game, it's a Thingy.

Secondly, something online, though trivial and an escape to some, can influence someone's life more than anything... just like other trivial things in real life, for instance walking into someone who later becomes your wife.

I've found my current RL work thanks to SL, not just any old job, but my dream job, a Graphic Designer, and not just for any company, one of the biggest and most influencial design companies out there.

And I do beleive that meeting someone you love more than anything, plan to live with in real life, long term, forever, and could one day start a family with, is pretty life changing.

I'll leave no comment on your final remark there.

Posted by: Damien Fate at Sep 29, 2004 5:41:18 PM

In any case, the post was deleted for the obscenity and the personal attack. Please note all, NWN comment threads are operated under the same community standards as the official Second Life forums.

Posted by: Hamlet Linden at Sep 29, 2004 5:54:11 PM

I'm normally cynical, but I find this story sweet and charming. I'm glad things are working out so well for the two of you, and I bet most NWN readers agree.

Posted by: Olympia Rebus at Sep 29, 2004 7:32:48 PM

Couldn't have happened to two nicer people. I wish you all the best :)

Posted by: Chip Midnight at Sep 30, 2004 11:53:40 AM

Oh this is so romantic! I was just sitting here on a rainy Tuesday, waiting for SL to come back up after an upgrade (sad, eh?) when I read this.
I do hope everything works out for you - in both worlds.

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