I wish I could remember how I came across London Spengler for the first time. Whatever or whoever it was, it was a blessed happening. I was a fanboi and became an acquaintance, an acquaintance who became a friend, a friend who became a lover. Here's my story.
I basically wasted my first months in Second Life on camping, meeting the wrong people and in turn getting exploited by them. Things changed for the better when I found Cheyenne Palisades and her blog (another event I do not know how it happened), and somehow, probably through a link or a comment, I found London's blog Pandora's Box. This must have been some time in early/mid 2007 - I was rather shy back then (don't laugh) and silently read blogs and did not comment. Pandora's Box is an interesting mixture of things: shameless self promo, personal takes on happenings in SL and - love and sex. So there was a woman who could program (back then this seemed like an exception to me), who could express herself, and who openly wrote about love and sex? Whoaw!
It took me ages before I sent her the first IM. By then I have commented a lot on her blog. The sim she shared with her partner - Pandora's Peace - was one of the favourite places for me to hang out. Partly because I loved it's beauty, partly because I hoped to run into her. I considered many times to buy her signature product, the "Pandora HUD", but I was pretty much living on a budget and it was out of my reach.
Out of my reach... that was like a motto for my relationship to London for many, many months. Not only did I assume she was out of my reach intellectually and with her skills (something she always denied but her skills still put me in awe), also the romantic interest which soon developed put her out of my reach. She was rather open on her blog about being straight in the atomic world and somehow being more surrounded by woman as romantic partners in SL, but more important - she had a partner. Even though I somehow gathered she had more than one lover - the term polyamory confused me - I still considered her way out of my league.
The IM's we exchanged became more frequent, but still I was shy until finally on December 1st, 2007 she sent me a friendship offer which I gladly accepted. London was not a close friend. But a reliable one. I loved her dry humour, her cheekiness, but also her brutal honesty. More than once she set my head straight over things. Always with understanding for my view, but also always putting her finger exactly where it hurts - and pushed. We also talked on occasion about technical things - something I very much enjoyed. London was there when I was troubled, but London was there for silly jokes too. It's not that we talked every week, but whenever we did, I enjoyed it a lot.
Then, some time in early fall 2008 (mhmm... interesting), she unfriended me out of the blue.
The unfriending happened with style. I got unfriended before - sometimes during fights, but mostly silent, finding it out weeks or months later - but she sent a note. Explained her crazy lifestyle, how it affects her RL, how it affects her love/hate relationship with SL, and that she needs to cut activities short, and that I should please not take it personally, but that she cuts her friendslist down to the handful of closest people. It felt like a slap in the face.
Being stunned, I wondered how to react. I knew, from a rational point of view, that we were not close friends. I knew that was partly for me being a busy bee and not putting enough effort into the friendship. I swayed between offence and ignorance, between not-caring and not-giving up. And I finally decided that I want to fight for her friendship. That London was a person I am not willing to let fade away, not willing to let drop back to acquaintance, not willing to let her become a stranger over time. And I fought for the friendship. And I probably was a pain in the ass. And I discussed a lot with her. And we exchanged notecards. And we discussed more. And grew closer. And refreshed friendship. And on December 1st 2008, we friended for the second time. And fighting for her friendship was one of the best things I ever did in SL!
One thing that prompted the initial unfriending was a conflict she had, extending intimate encounters to close friends. Except for my fanboi phase with London, I have always been in SL relationships. The revelation that London had romantic and even intimate feelings and desire for me hit me like a brickwall. Self esteem is not my biggest character trait, and thinking that I get desired and loved is a concept that is hard for me to accept. London's reasoning was that she can't be close friends with someone she can not extend physical affection to was both hard and easy for me to understand. I need cuddling and skin contact a lot, and I regret that Western Civilization usually rules this out. In SL cuddling comes more natural, but my monogamous nature was a hindrance for London.
What I did not know by that time was that my current SL relationship was dying. My partner was less and less in SL, and when she was, we talked mostly about her business. The relationship was ended by her in early January 2009, completely surprising to me and I fell into a deep hole. London and Nadine Nozaki where the ones who dragged me out of the hole, and London was the one who suggested I should rethink my lifestyle, rethink my approach to SL relationships. It was a long learning curve, and many nights were London and I discussed well beyond any sensible bedtime. London was a patient teacher, she explained, she gave her point of view, she showed examples. And we became lovers. Clumsy, anxious at first, so helpless, so shy. But I noticed the love has been there all the time, and now it finally could express itself. London also taught me about responsibility in those complex arrangements that involve more than one partner. And I learned a lot, and I think I even surprised her at times.
Among the most important things I learned from London was faith and not fearing. I am a worrier at heart, and our relationship had a lot of aspects that frightened me, and a lot of times where I screwed up. And she taught me to have faith, and not fear, and that the love is stronger than the screwups. Which did not mean she did not bite my head off as soon as I calmed down and told me what an idiot I was.
Faith is what I need now. It's fall again, one year after the unfriending spree of London, and while I did not get unfriended this time, London said she can't have me (and others) as lovers anymore. I hope what she taught me in 9 months will now help me to manage this new situation. I hope I have the faith to believe in our friendship, and to believe in the mutual love that is still there. I hope that I have the faith to realize "lover" is just a word, and that what I share with London is beyond words.
On this Love Thursday, my love goes to London Spengler, who owns a spot in my heart.