Gathering of People

Meeting Online Friends in Real Life Does Happen

My boyfriend James and I were notified in late 2012 of a friend’s wedding that was going to take place in May of 2013 in Florida. This friend is a special one because he was someone we met in World of Warcraft and we’ve been friends for at least five years. It didn’t start out as a strong friendship though.

When I first met Zach I knew him as Aziel, the Undead rogue and he knew me as Skyflames the tauren restoration druid. We crossed paths in the game through raiding. Whenever our raids were short one or two people – typically healers or tanks – we would ask each other if we could borrow one of their guild members. I came to know Zach/Aziel as the crazy, humorous but kick ass rogue, who sometimes led the raid through Naxxramas. And he came to know me as the cow who hated playing a damage class, and failed miserably as a tank. (Yes I was a very committed healer.) Over the years we joined other guilds, saw ours crumble, and rebuilt. We still kept in touch with each other, but it felt more like we were acquaintances than friends. It wasn’t until Cataclysm did we truly start bonding. Zach had become one of our officers, alongside one of his real life friends Brandon, and he even invited his girlfriend Rebecca to our guild. There were many nights when we struggled through some difficult content and sometimes we never progressed. Other nights we would discuss what to do with the guild, like what could be improved upon or simply have fun. Unfortunately running a guild grew too taxing for me, and when the rest of the guild realized that the content wasn’t fun anymore, we decided to quit World of Warcraft.

Several months went by in silence but then a call went through on Skype – it was Zach. Very quickly we fell back into the groove of jokes, gaming and laughter – it felt like old times again. We briefly returned to World of Warcraft for Mists of Panderia, where we joined Zach’s guild and met his guild leader Joey. We also met Nancy, a friend of Rebecca’s who was a tauren restoration druid like me. There were other games that we played, like Borderlands 2, Guild Wars 2 and currently we’re playing in Zach’s Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

So when we were invited to come to Zach’s and Rebecca’s wedding we were pleasantly surprised and a little bit disappointed.

“We’d really like to come, but we just don’t have the money right now.”

A couple moths later, Rebecca landed a job as a student accountant and they said, “We’re paying for your plane tickets. You’re coming to our wedding.”

Completely floored, I told them I couldn’t accept a gift like that. “Rebecca, that’s a thousand dollars for the both of us. It’s not fair to you two. ” And then Zach had to sit me down and explain that having both of us there was something they truly wanted for their wedding. After wrestling with my pride and modesty for about twenty minutes, I conceded.

My boyfriend grinned and said, “I guess we’re going to Florida.”

Meeting your online friends for the first time is already a very exhilarating experience, but when you add to that a wedding, and things get insanely incredible. Joey, Zach’s guild leader also flew out from Brooklyn, New York to come see them. Nancy and Brandon were already there, along with Stacy – Rebecca’s best friend – and her fiance Jamie, who flew out from Wisconsin shortly after we arrived. This totaled to a cramped nine people staying in a two bedroom apartment. We watched Doctor Who and various other shows on Netflix, played Rock Band, went out to see Iron Man 3, played air hockey, went out to eat and basically did the one thing we couldn’t do online – hang out together. The bachorlette party was rather tame in comparison to the bachelor party. The women drank wine, played Cards Against Humanity and asked personal adult questions, while the men went out to a pub, drank Irish Wakes from mason jars, ate garbage burgers (This was a  nasty concoction where the chef placed whatever was on hand in the kitchen on the burger. This included liverwurst, chocolate syrup, wasabi, beef, and ice cream.) and drunkenly sang Bohemian Rhapsody in a round at one in the morning. The wedding was absolutely gorgeous and the reception was filled with lots of smiles, dancing, and laughter.

Unfortunately everything good has to come to an end. At three in the morning on the next day, James and I were the first to leave Florida. It was a somber good bye, but we all agreed that we would meet up again one day. We’ve already set a date for Dragon Con in 2015, and hopefully the event won’t be as busy or hectic as a wedding day. For those of you who are contemplating meeting up with online friends that you truly have a connection with, I would say go for it. Of course keep safety in mind, and let your loved ones know what you’re doing. You never know, your online friends could turn out to be closer to you than anyone you’ve met in real life.