Yes, it's that time again. Second Life is down for an upgrade—or maybe up for a downgrade. We've yet to see. This was supposed to be the release of integrated voice, I think, but apparently it's been postponed until next month. This time, we get sculpted prims. Since I can just about build a habitable domicile with the old prims, I'm looking forward to seeing what those with far more graphical design talent than I have will do with these new prims.
I shall take the opportunity to do another person entry. tree Sprawl (she always spells her first name that way—some people don't like to hit the shift key!) was rezzed the same day as I was, on the 30th of July 2006. We met on Orientation and/or Help Island, and she might well have been the first name on my Friends list. She skipped all the build tutorials and headed off for the mainland after only about a day, while I waited behind for a new graphics board to arrive, but we stayed in touch via IM. While I was rezzing cubes and playing with textures, she would tell me about the adventures she was already having.
When I finally jumped to the mainland, I was afraid she'd be way ahead of me and not want to be friends any more. My worries were for nothing. As soon as I jumped, tree was ready to give me a hand, and more than a few lira (I told her I had money, but she seemed to think I didn't). She took me shopping. She introduced me to her friend Athena, who is actually our triplet. She kept me company in those difficult days when Second Life seems very intimidating because you haven't really learned anything yet. I remember when she took me dancing at a place that was having an animal avatar contest, and she turned into a sort of triceratops. Then she couldn't get the darned thing off and temporarily lost her skin! Oh, everything was new then.
As we continued with our second lives, we didn't see each other as often, but whenever we did, it was like we'd never been apart. We could always start talking about whatever was going on, even if it had been a while since we'd met. I had my fling thing with M. She had a couple things of her own. She grabbed some first land long before I managed to, and even bought some more. She did eventually learn to build, and she made me a skybox on her land, my first home. (We had started with a pre-fab A-frame cabin, which was rather nice, but she went for the skybox because she wanted to use the land below.)
Eventually, she bought four adjacent 512m2 parcels and created a beautiful walled garden, some photos of which I put on my Flickr site. We would sit there and talk sometimes. When I first met Sorcha McConachie, I brought her to the garden so we could chat. tree said that she got more traffic on her parcel than a nearby club did, and that doesn't surprise me.
She had a rocky relationship for a while, and I was her shoulder to cry on when things were going badly. (The relationship also had much about it that was good, so it wasn't all tears.) In fact, I think she might have been one of the first, if not the first, to come to me that way, which led directly to my setting up a counselling practice in SL, which led to me working on a career change in first life in order to becoming a counsellor.
I did my share of crying on her shoulder as well. She was always a sympathetic listener. At the same time, she's one of those people who can cut right through bullshit, and that always helped me keep my head on straight.
Sadly, the garden is now gone. So is the rest of tree's land. In fact, tree will be gone from SL soon as well. Maybe not forever, but at least for now. Like many of us, she gave up some things in first life in order to make time for SL, and she'd like to make time for those things again. Fortunately, we have other ways of getting in touch, because tree is not just a friend to me in SL. She is a friend, period.
I love you, tree. I know we'll be in touch, but I'll miss you so much in SL. I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I am so grateful for your friendship, so glad that I met you. May you always thrive in all of your lives.