LBA (Life before Azeroth)
Picture a 24 year old in the midst of a divorce. Lonely because the man with whom she had spent years had walked away. Her new apartment is strange and feels empty, despite the fact she is living with her best friend. Grief makes for an all-consuming companion, snuffing out much of the “good” with remnants of the past. And the boredom: the lingering pest that gives way to all other emotions.
When a girlfriend casually mentioned she and her roommate, a long time friend, play World of Warcraft I winced. World of Warcraft is MMO crack to the addictive personalities of gaming. It is life-wasting, soul sucking cocaine and meant for people who want to hide away in their underground bunkers waiting for the zombie apocalypse. Realistically, I wasn’t too far off the stereotype – just replace bunker with dingy apartment and the apocalypse with divorce paperwork.
My first character was a human monk. Windwalker. I figured I could use a bit of a fling with an alternate reality. I had done my research, watched the South Park episode and figured I would only play until the end of the trial. I had until level 20 or when 30 days were up, whichever came first. Thus, my adventure began where it always does for a human: Elwynn Forest. Cue the request from Deputy Willem.
I don’t quite remember what level I was when my friend suggested that the ladies have a LAN night. Clad in yoga pants and comfy tops, three beautiful women sat eating chicken nuggets and instant ramen, chatting and laughing while casting and slashing. While venturing through Ironforge I made a real connection: a WoW queen who beta tested the game. She was an Executive Assistant by day and a raid leader by night.
LTR: The Long Term Relationship
Unsurprisingly I levelled to 20 long before the thirty-day trial expired. So my fling had ended. It was time to commit: in lieu of the marriage I lost, do I take thee MMO to be my current LTR? I celebrated the newly minted commitment by downloading Legion and paying for a six-month sub.
From my perspective, the divorce paperwork moved at a glacial pace and sometimes it was only WoW that stood between total insanity and me. Ladies LAN nights continued, sometimes it was just my new friend and I, drinking wine and running dungeons. She, a level 110 monk, took me under her wing and atop her Vial of the Sands. I was inducted into her guild. And at level 80 she made a suggestion: I should make a Demon Hunter.
We are pretty sure Sambita was a misspelling of Sambuca, but at the time I had no idea where the name came from. Nonetheless, it was given to a level 98 Demon Hunter, who boldly entered the Broken Shore. A newb took her first feeble steps into end game content only a few months after starting the game.
Somehow, Sambita became part of my psyche, even after I logged. She was tough, resilient but also quirky and intrinsically kind. No, these aren’t traits written in by Blizzard but by my own imagination. Soon, I was playing current content side by side with my monk cohort, learning through a trial of fire.
It was shortly after the inception of Sambita that I took my last sleep in my lonesome and dingy abode. The friendly monk was looking for a more permanent rooming situation – and a roommate.
The Broken Shore
Some things progress at light speed. We blinked and landed in a three-bedroom apartment uptown. I remember the first night: no heat, no beds and no internet. The next day we still had no heat and no beds, but the internet was up and running and so were our WoW accounts, which weren’t used to being abandoned for 24 hours.
My divorce papers were signed and I was at the tail end of the wait period for my marriage to be officially, legally absolved. Though almost at a close, I still felt the heaviness of loss, and a desperate need for closure. I was definitely not ready to explore new relationship possibilities. So each night, I came home to a kind face and worked my way through the Broken Shore storyline. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I screamed while hitting demons and sometimes it was blissful happiness over a glass of wine. Day by day, quest-by-quest, life progressed.
A well-geared Sambita is still fighting the Legion. The fight won’t be ending for some time. A year later, I still go home to the same kind face – we call ourselves the dragons. My account is now accustomed to being abandoned for sometimes a week at a time but Azeroth is still a home for me.
It is ironic, but what started as escapism brought me closer to a new reality. My roommate and I went to California together. There are people whom I have never met that check in on me – just to see how I am. The game that I originally assumed to be soul sucking and life wasting has served as a vehicle to expand my waking world.
In life, as it is in WoW, the quests never end. A new expansion is on the horizon. There will be yelling, slashing, death and re-spawn, wine, tears, joy – what have you. No matter the dungeon, raid battleground or quest, Sambita and I will be ready for whatever lies ahead.