“We are all sum totals of our experience, products of our environment, and divided by our ignorance.” –Samuel Adams
On March 14, 1992 I was a sixteen year old only child. For a large number of teenagers in my neck of the woods, the trials and tribulations faced included being “in,” possibly some family drama of some sort, and trying to find a way to add 200 more words to that paper due tomorrow.
On that morning, I discovered my mother, the only parent in my life, had passed away overnight. At 39 years old she had sleep apnea, a sleep disorder involving difficult breathing during sleep. According to the paramedics she had been hours gone before I tried to wake her up.
The day was undoubtedly the most pivotal day in my growth and development, or lack thereof in some ways. I couldn’t grieve or mourn her loss right away. It was only about a year after her passing that I actually broke down about it and shed tears. Instead I chose to immerse myself in extracurricular activities in school. Journalism, Yearbook, student government, band, choir, and drama productions were all forms of escapism for me.
My friends became my family It was also a month after this date that I participated in my first pen & paper AD&D game with my friends. Up to that point, I hadn’t really dabbled too much in RPGs in any form. I was hooked immediately. The sessions allowed me to imagine, create, and most importantly be someone else, somewhere else.
And so the dominoes began to fall in sequence. The pen & paper games led to console and computer single player RPGs and MUDs, which years later led to Ultima Online and the beginning of my MMORPG experience.
I have spent the majority of the past two decades making my own choices. In retrospect I do believe my life would have played out very differently had March 14, 1992 been any ordinary day.
And while I haven’t achieved everything she probably wanted me to achieve, I think I’ve done right by her. I’ve gone 18 years without filing for unemployment. My debts are minimal compared to the average person. I’m a member of management in my workplace, and I maintain a small but solid circle of friends from realms outside of the virtual.
By no means do I consider my life special or unique when it comes to the challenges I have faced. We all have our real life dilemmas, big and small. However, reflecting on that day twenty years ago I can firmly admit that I owe my interest in my virtual adventures to my mother, both in life and in death.
In death, her passing gave me motivation to escape worrying about the real world, for better or worse… but it is more so in -life- that I thank her for placing the cornerstone; in 1983 she somehow managed to afford a Commodore 64 computer for Christmas. The applications and games that even that simple machine could produce caught our fancy and it became as important a part of the home as our television, if not more so. She used the computer for work. I used it for Zork, Ultima, and homework.
In 1985, we both used it for a little online network called Quantum Link, which would eventually be called America Online.
I was an online nerd before online nerds existed in pop culture.
I have no regrets when it comes to who I am now and what my hobbies, loves, and obsessions include. I am the sum total of these experiences, and more. I am a product of my environment, both real and virtual. I am divided from those who prefer hunting, restoring cars, or building models by my ignorance of those pastimes.
When all is said, I am happy with my place in the world and the people I know, and my hardships right now are nothing compared to what millions endure every day.
Thank you Mom. 143
Life Tap articles are stories about my past that hopefully give a little insight to who the player behind Rho is. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions feel free to email me at RhoWoW@gmail.com.