Recently, i faced the annual rl dilemma of deciding whether to stay or go… i’m currently living in rented accommodation, but it doesn’t really suit me – for most of my life, i’ve owned the places i’ve lived in – and not having my own place simply doesn’t suit me. For the past few years, every March, the letter from the estate agent arrives, asking whether i want to renew for another 12 months; and every time, i’ve been sorely tempted to say ‘no’.
It would make sound economic sense to move to my own place – i’d be better off, and i wouldn’t be shelling out every month for keeping things in storage, i could probably manage to do it too, from the financial side of things… but something – an irritating element of indecision – keeps telling me to wait. Wait for what, i don’t know: there is a part of me that has wanted, for a good few years now, to simply up-sticks and have that gap year, (or two, or three), that i never had when i was younger, but then again, i like security and stability and the urge not to be so foolish has slightly more influence. Perhaps it’s this need for stability that’s keeping me where i am now – over the years, i’ve moved home somewhere in the region of 10 times, not counting several months in total spent in borrowed rooms and sleeping on the floor at friends’ homes! Every time i’ve hated it – the rigmarole, upheaval and sheer hard work of packing, moving and setting up home in a new place is simply not my thing. Yet there are many to whom this is nothing at all – i have one friend who is currently in the throes of their 24th move, and another who has recently changed continents for the second time in as many years – beats me how they do it.
However, whatever may transpire in the real world, i can find solace in knowing my virtual home is pretty much secure. It’s odd to think that when i first came to sl, a good year had elapsed before i even understood the allure of have a virtual place to call home – i was quite happy to be a pixel nomad, logging in wherever i’d ended up on my previous visit and feeling no compulsion to settle down and establish my sl roots. In time, that all changed and now i have my own decent-sized parcel and it feels like home to me, in every sense of the word.
My globe-trotting, intercontinental friend tells me that having a ‘home’ in sl is more than just being able to say you’re the owner of a piece of virtual real estate – it is an essential and very tangible oasis of stability and normality when the real world is so subject to change and chance. We can move anywhere on the planet, across thousands of miles, and yet our sl home remains firmly rooted to the spot where we left it – whilst our lives and surroundings may change beyond recognition on one side of the screen, on the other they remain just as we left them. We may leave our rl friends and family far away, yet the old familiar faces and places remain constant in the virtual world, and are just a click away.
In the real world, i have few real friends and i’ve lost contact with most of my family – i could move to the end of the earth tomorrow, and very few people would even notice; but sl is different. In the virtual world, i have many close friends and it would be quite a wrench to have to wave them goodbye – the thing is though, i don’t have to. No matter where i go, i can take my friends with me… i can still shop in my favourite stores, frequent my usual haunts and spend time with those people who matter most to me – and that, to someone who values stability and security, is an incredibly reassuring thing.
So i decided, once more to renew, and i’ll be staying put in the real world for the foreseeable future, but who knows when the urge to get up and go might gain the upper hand? At least, when it does, i know there’s somewhere i can go that won’t be changing.
You won’t be rid of me that easily!
I heard her voice, in the mornin’ hour she calls me
Said “Son you remind me of my home far away”
And drivin’ down the road I feel a sickness
I should have been home yesterday, yesterday
Toots & The Maytals – Take Me Home Country Roads