I Need a Monk
Chris Erb discusses how Age Of Empires II helped him cope with the death of his first love.
Right after graduating high school, my friend invited myself and several other friends to a Dungeons & Dragons campaign his brother was running. I hadn’t played for at least three years, I signed right on, and it wasn’t long after that I met Nicole. She was a snarky redhead, into a lot of the same nerdy stuff I was, and even though I hadn’t really been into older girls, I fell for her, fast. So did two of my other friends. Because of this, our initial friendship went awkward, fast.
The following summer, she gave me another chance, this time over a Shadowrun campaign. It was a pleasant surprise. I found it a lot easier watching her play with the same two gentlemen who’d been courting her twelve months prior now that I was healed of heart and clearer of mind. We hit off well as friends, had some great times and talks when she wasn’t juggling boys. The afternoon before she left to go back down to Virginia for college, she opened up to me about a lot of stuff out of nowhere, and I left her place with a much deeper connection with her than I expected.
I’d discuss work or update her on what was up with our friends at school, since I’d taken up hanging out in the common room of their residence house. Just as August was slipping into September, she pinged me to discuss how abdominal pains she’d suffered over the summer were getting worse and more frequent, and she was heading back up almost immediately to see a specialist and straighten things out. We agreed to hang out, if she had a chance to, after any recovery needed. That wasn’t to happen, however, thanks to 9/11.
She wasn’t in any of the World Trade Center buildings, mind you, or anywhere near New York. Turned out, her specialist was in New York at the time, and while unscathed, he couldn’t get out of Manhattan, postponing her appointment. After telling me this, she mentioned, out of left field, that some horoscope site had told her, “an Aquarius is my love match.” Doesn’t mean much unless you know that -I- am an Aquarius, which she was quite aware of. She signed off right afterward, drowsy from painkillers, and I never got a chance to ask her what she was implying.
A few nights later, I rolled into my usual spot behind my friends’ house, noting the lights were out in the common room. Candles were lit in their stead. Other lights in the house were fine, so I figured it was a weird power thing, until my friend walked over to my car before I could step out. Looking fairly solemn, he told me what happened.
I never would learn what Nicole had been getting at; her belated trip to the specialist had caught a systemic infection too late. She’d died in the hospital hours earlier.
The next week or so was a blur. I remember stumbling to a couch in the corner, sitting stunned for a few minutes before devolving into a sobbing wreck. I snapped out of it long enough to drive home, but her funeral shook me back apart. The worst part was, I had no one to confide in; my friends who’d been involved with her would’ve crucified me if they found out my torch for Nicole had been reignited just as suddenly as her life had been extinguished. Friends who’d just watched the whole thing would’ve condemned me, I felt, for operating behind her boyfriend(s)’s backs. All I could do was support my friends, while they tried to be there for me, without knowing how bad a shape I was in.
Most of us fell back into regular AoEII games, to try and distract us, especially since this was the first loss a lot of us had experienced. At this point, many would say, “I don’t know what I would’ve done without ______,” but I can tell you exactly what I would have done without Age Of Empires. I probably would’ve taken my own life. Without the camaraderie and distraction of our nightly LAN matches, I would’ve withdrawn into myself. Between the fresh pain of losing Nicole, and the lingering ache from the circumstances that soured our first meeting, I would’ve shattered, without any desire to be reconstructed. I owe Ensemble Studios my life.
Not only did longboating it up with my typical Vikings keep me from offing myself, but it strengthened the bonds I had with old friends who played, found me new friends in other players in the house, and helped patch things up a bit between Mr. On/Off and I, who suspected something was up even before Nicole’d passed. My buddy who told me Nicole died, whom I’d previously only known loosely from high school, became one of my closest friends, but it would be another year before he came and asked me just why I was so torn up. I explained to some extent, but I’ve never told him, or anyone, about the “Aquarius love match” thing.
Unless they find and read this, I probably never will.
- purple-squirrel likes this
- shootthecore reblogged this from gamessavedmylife
- shootthecore likes this
- dinosaursandotherawesomestuff reblogged this from gamessavedmylife
- ihateallthemusicyoulike likes this
- thankneptune reblogged this from gamessavedmylife
- lhdp likes this
- captainmike likes this
- luipaardjack reblogged this from gamessavedmylife
- kurhl likes this
- egadsy likes this
- mymindisodd likes this
- satans-advocate likes this
- revcleo likes this
- gamessavedmylife posted this