I just got the Christmas gift I bought for my girlfriend.
I met her on a dating website, and I had found her by randomly plugging video game names that I really liked into the keyword search, which in this case was Civilization. I don't judge women by their interests in video games, but women tend to judge me by mine, so I thought it was a decent way of finding someone appealing to whom I could also be appealing. I found some awkward way to talk to her, and she responded, which meant she wasn't immediately turned off by my waist-length hair. Hooray!
We met in person in a mall, because a surprising amount of people are apprehensive that internet people are plotting to knife them. I have never really had any concerns about it, and I can only guess as to the reason(s): I act sensibly on the internet, I am aware of the (low) statistical probability of being harmed, or maybe I am just gormless internet knifer fodder. Who can say? But the point is a mall has a lot of people, and that makes people feel safer. I don't know how much safer that actually makes anybody, but I am not an unhinged internet stabbing enthusiast, so it really doesn't matter anyway.
So I talked with her for a few hours, and things seemed very promising. She crapped on Christianity in our first conversation, and she wasn't immediately repelled by my rabid obsession with the American Civil War. I don't go around accosting people with Civil War trivia unprompted, I assure you. I at least wait until someone unwittingly wanders near the topic, like talking about Confederate flags, or slavery, and then you're fucked.
We spent more time together, and then she invited me to her birthday shindig, where she and a bunch of friends get together in a field and get drunk. I hate meeting people. It is an unpleasant thing to do. I recognize the importance of it, and see it as necessary, but that has nothing to do with how it makes me feel. This was a person I didn't even really know all that well yet, and now I could spend a whole night meeting a bunch of people who at least knew her, and maybe everyone else too. Oh, and I'd get to meet her parents, too, because it was their place. Oh, and I don't really drink. I was sure I was not going to have a stellar time, but I wanted to learn about her and be appealing to her, so I went. Maybe I'd be wrong; maybe I'd have a great time, even!
As I expected, I mostly got to sit and be scrutinized as to why I wasn't talking at all by people who, as all friends do, talked incessantly about topics and people specific to their group that are inscrutable to an outsider. And then I got to have a hangover. But what I'd learned is that not only I did indeed like her, I liked her friends, and I liked her family. And when I like someone, that tends to be a permanent, lasting thing.
And something grew up out of that. We became a couple, and I constantly learned about her, which in turn meant I learned how much more I liked her. I could list simple adjectives, but, I guess as is natural for any lovesick chap, I feel like they don't do justice. They're not specific enough; they don't convey the magic I see in her. But the point you can well gather is that she nestled into my heart, and I was fond of her being there. It was the best feeling in the world, because here was someone I respected, loved, and admired, and who was, like all of the very best people, so unique and complexly blended that I could never had imagined such a person, and she liked me, too. That last part was the very best part.
I felt inspired. Surely I was at the start of something great. I did not know where my future lay, but surely she would be there, because I wanted her there. We had conversations about what we wanted in life: she wanted a family. I have never wanted children, but I often think about parenting and what I would do as a parent. I was honest about this. But that, I felt, was a long way off, and there was no point in ruining a good thing over an unknown. And as the relationship grew, I was less certain of what I wanted and where I would go. Things that never were appealing were changing. Thinking about having a family with her doesn't scare me at all. I have contemplated it, and it seems pleasant to me. Suddenly, I didn't know where things would go, and I reveled in that. It did not matter, because it would be with her, and that was better than anything I could imagine.
A group of friends of mine had rented a house for a week at the Outer Banks last year, and they were doing so again this year. I thought this was a great opportunity. There is something about that place that touches me in an inexpressible way. I have not been there often, but the smell, the air, the feel, the look of the place burrows very deep in me. Now I could be there with a bunch of my stupid friends and someone who I felt strongly about.
It was the best time of my life. I loved being around her, and I wanted that to last forever. She couldn't stay the whole week, and as I stood next to her car saying goodbye, I knew a very special part of my life was at an end. I don't know how that sounds to anyone else; I've done my fair share of sneering at what I saw as overly-emotional dribble. Perhaps people expect something grander or rarer. But that is how I feel. Enjoying another person's company is the point of life, to me, and those days I felt that more than I ever had before.
After I said goodbye to her and watched her drive off, I walked inside and stood at the door, feeling an emptiness well up inside me. She was gone, and I would rather have gone home with her than spent more time with my friends. I had to blink a few times to clear my eyes, then I went upstairs and declared that I was going to drink my sissy alcohol (I think beer is yucky) to distract myself from my girlfriend leaving, because that sucked. I proceeded to drunkenly get into arguments about everything I could think of, and then drunkenly babbled about how great my girlfriend was.
Fairly soon thereafter, I proposed that we should play Minecraft. We'd already played Civilization together, and Minecraft seemed like something neat for us to experience and share together. I work overnight, which makes it very hard to see me, and I am very conscious of this. We saw each other regularly on weekends and Mondays, but this was a way we could be together during the rest of the week, too.
It was better than I expected. I dug out a little mine and had a very utilitarian base of operations. She improved it into a little video game home. I built a lighthouse and a wheat plantation. She bred a herd of cattle. I explored and mapped the wilderness. She crafted and cooked and decorated and made all sorts of stuff for me to log in and go "Whoa, cool!" at. I secretly built a railroad that would take her straight to an NPC village. We left sappy stuff for each other. A complex of months of shared experiences grew up around this little hole I dug. I am sure our little Minecraft place looks simple and unremarkable to the experienced Minecraft player. But to me the place is something special. To me it feels like a manifestation of a growing closeness; it is a record of emotions.
The end of November came. I started to agonize over the approach of Christmas. She clearly is someone who likes sentimental things, and I have a hard time with that stuff. Maybe my past experiences are to blame, but I always dread failure in that regard, and failure preceding the end of the relationship. But then an epiphany. I remembered reading an article about the dudes what make physical figures of World of Warcraft avatars making Minecraft shit into physical figures. I checked it out, and I could get a little physical version of our Minecraft home for about $50. I popped into the Creative Mode, put our initials and a heart in the grass, and ordered it pronto.
About six days later she said we needed to talk. My heart sank. It wasn't the full-on breakup talk, but it was almost worse. She didn't know if she even wanted to be with me. She wanted a family. I wasn't aspirational enough, my job wasn't good enough, she didn't get to see me enough, she didn't want to be making more money than me, I was stagnant, we were stagnant, and I didn't like change. And I didn't want kids, and that was a problem in itself anyway.
I will happily deal with many problems just to be with the person I love. But I need to feel something in return, and watching what I want so badly die a slow death, culminating in a conclusion that I'm not good enough isn't something I'm keen on experiencing. She clearly did not feel the same way about me as I did about her, and the idea of being with me in the future scared her. She was crippled with indecision, but I felt I saw things pretty clearly. It was time to end it.
So this Sunday we are supposed to say goodbye to each other. I just cannot be around her or maintain contact with her; it will hurt for much longer without much purpose. In a way, I intend for it to be the last I see of her. My memory is happy and hopeful, looking out at a beach sky, and that's how I want to keep it.
We are also supposed to exchange Christmas gifts, since we already bought them. Today the Minecraft thing I bought got here:
I cried a bit when I saw it. I don't know how I should feel about that. I don't really know if it's any good as a gift, or if she'll like it. I guess I shouldn't still care about that. I don't know. All I am left with is self-doubt and a vast feeling of emptiness. I ran our Minecraft server, so those files are still sitting on my computer. It kind of freaks me out, honestly. Unless I delete it, this digital record of time and the feelings associated with it will exist forever. No one will build on it anymore. Nothing is left to do with it but walk around and remember.
But, so the point of this is that it occurs to me: how crazy is our fuckin' life these days? I met a girl on the internet who I found because of video games, then I had a video game thing with her, and then a company I heard of on the internet took my money to make part of that into a real physical thing. That's fuckin' nuts.