The journey is more fun with friends you can stand by.

Reforging Bonds February

A Place to Belong

A dream bigger than myself, huh?

“Come on, Keir, grab your bike and let’s go!”

A warm summer breeze rolls over the suburban side-street as my middle schools friends and I hang out to do nothing in particular, just like we do everyday. I sit on the curb as I watch my friends roll by on their old but trusty bikes. The wind in their hair, the scrapes on their clothes and helmet, and their laughter filled the air with sounds only other middle school kids could be excited about. And then there was me, waiting on the sidelines with my bike. I still hadn’t figured out how to ride the stupid thing, it just didn’t make sense to me.

“Just get on, lean forward, and vrooooom!”, Walter would explain, waving his hands around like a crazy guy as if his words made any sense.

“Come on, you got this Keir! Look, I’m barely holding on, you ready to pedal on your ow-“ “NOOOOOO DON’T LET GO! I’M GOING TO FALL!”, I screeched as Lio shook his head trying to not be annoyed by yet another failed attempt.

“Get those wheels off, I’ll look like a dork!” “Yeah, but you rode ‘em just fine on your last bike, right? I don’t see how this is any different!”, Panz smirked at me trying to attach my old training wheels when I wasn’t looking.

The world of my friends and my own seemed so close together, yet so far away. On and on they rode throughout the neighborhood, creating races, jumping off makeshift ramps, and laughing all the while enjoying their summertime freedom. I wondered if I would ever get there, I so desperately wanted to be with them, and I eye the bike standing against the curb beside me. I just don’t understood, why would you let me ride you?

“Alright Keir, we gotta go home now, so take man! Hopefully we’ll see each other again soon!” Walter waves me off with Lio and Panz in tow, and soon the trio disappear around the corner of the school building we were biking at today.

Today, I had enough. This bike had mocked me for the entire summer, and today was the day I finally had enough. Screw it, who cares if I fall and get hurt. This bike prevented me from enjoying an unforgettable summer, so I would show it. If I get hurt, at least I know I tried.

Once I stopped fuming about how unfair it all was, I noticed I was flying. The asphalt below me was sailing away as I was got faster and faster with no sign of stopping. This was it, I was doing it, I was biking!

I stopped once I got to the end of the asphalt blacktop, and and got off my bike to turn it around and try again. Once more I hopped on, and I pedaled without the fears and regrets of a whole summer gone by, and just like that, I was sailing once more. The feeling… was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life. The wind in my hair, the the scrapes on my clothes and helmet, my own laughter ringing throughout the air, it was finally here, and it was finally me enjoying it. I rode on and on far past the sun setting and into the early night when the school building’s lights turned on. Finally happy with the day’s events (and finally giving in to how tired I was), I beam in the moonlight as I finally understand the magic. And it was finally me who would be part of it. I couldn’t wait to see Walter, Lio, and Panz soon.

When I finally learned how to how to ride my bike, the last summer of middle school had finally ended. It was the last time I saw friends because we all went to separate high schools to pursue our own lives. I chose a far away school renowned for its technological program to follow my dad’s footsteps. It was one of many choices I would make that would further isolate me from the people I then called my friends. Little did I know how much more lonely and longer the journey would be for a while, but somewhere underneath I believed that i was catapulting towards a future that would make it all worthwhile.

“That was so much fun, Keir, thanks for taking the time to show us around! I’m excited for the next time we meet, there’s so much more I want to do in virtual reality now! Even better, let’s build a world, together!”

I grab the back of my virtual neck as I sheepishly accept the compliments from my two new friends. Les and Risa were people I happen to meet in passing, and what I showed that wasn’t anything I believed to be too special. I wanted to create virtual worlds in a virtual reality, so I showed them the worlds I loved and just a taste of what it was like to make you own. When I first met them, the idea of becoming a world builder seemed so foreign and daunting to them. But showing them the ropes was like a huge turnkey moment. They were older than me, but giggled with glee and exclaimed with wonder as they were able to spawn, move, and resize virtual objects as if they were kids playing with new toys. The magic didn’t hit me as much initially because I always believed I would be able to create something like this, but seeing a new possibility alight within someone else was a marvel to behold. Once our time together had ended, Les and Risa waved me goodbye, and logged out of the virtual world, and I logged out too.

I take off my off my headset and notice the dark bedroom I now sit in. I opened the curtains before my VR sesh to led sunlight flood in, but that the sun had long ago set . As I carefully place my headset on my nightstand and prepare myself to slumber away, my thoughts linger for just a moment long. Maybe… there something here worth pursuing. Maybe… I too could create a place for others to belong. Without realizing it, an old memory of an old friend floods into me as a single tear rolls down my cheek.

“A dream bigger than myself, huh?”, I say quietly to no one in particular before finally drifting off to sleep.

This was a weekly crossover post between Sandbox Zero and the Altspace VR Writing Group.

Sandbox Zero’s topic was Gatherings, group dynamics, movie/music production and performances

  • How are they related?
  • What are the supporting technologies?
  • How do they differ?
  • What makes for a good facilitation?
  • What makes for a meaningful event? How are participants selected? What is the driving force? What roles are important?
  • What is worthy of disagreement and when? How is it best handled?
  • What is the difference between a curious community and a community built on propaganda?

When we talked about the different experience musicians had when practicing with their band and then performing with a live audience. It made me wonder how writers and other more solitary people might create that energy exchange and performance improvement

  • What’s missing from social media and community software to create a real experience of togetherness?
  • How do we give virtual hugs?

ASVR Writing Group’s Prompt was Go back in time to when you were young and emotions were purer, less complicated. Find a story. REMEMBER, everything we share is fiction. :D.

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Dialogue & Discussion