Fourteen years ago today, I created this account on Everything2. That seems like a long time ago. So many things have happened in that amount of time, both within this virtual space and in the outside world, that trying to think back on it all at once is kind of overwhelming. But yesterday I started thinking about this noderversary, and it seemed like an opportunity to publicly reflect on some major things that happened in my life as a result of the decision I made fourteen years ago to join E2 and create my first writeup.
I last posted a writeup here seven years ago today, in 2008. It was also a daylog, but not a very serious one. It didn't seem likely to me at the time that E2 would still be around at this point, and back then I didn't much care. However, sometimes in life the unexpected happens, and thanks to Jay Bonci and a core group of noders who never gave up on E2, it's still here. Even though I don't come by much anymore, or even think about E2 for months at a time, I'm glad the historic old building is still standing.
I owe quite a lot to this website and the many people who were part of it years ago. Were it not for finding E2 via Slashdot, I would've never started interacting with the hundreds of people from around the world who were active members of its community at the time. This kind of interaction is commonplace today, but in 2001 before Facebook, Twitter and even Wikipedia (which began that year), Everything2 was hosting a web-based social network unlike anything most people had ever seen. I've written about this before, as have many others, so trying to redescribe the magic of it in a different way isn't really that worthwhile.
Interacting with a writers community full of interesting, intelligent, funny and creative people was so intoxicating, the prospect of meeting them in real life somehow didn't seem completely insane. So I flew to Boston for my first noder gathering. It turned out to be so much fun I kept going to them, in Michigan and Ohio, North Carolina and Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia. I even hosted one myself in Florida. Before I knew it, I'd built friendships with these people that were just as real and rewarding as any I'd ever made in my hometown. Moreso in some respects. I was attending their weddings, and they started to feel more like my family. I didn't want it to stop.
After I'd met most everyone on the East Coast of the US who attended these meetups, I decided to expand the range of my traveling nationwide, flying to California, Oregon and Nevada numerous times. I got to know a lot of the West Coast noders and finally saw for myself a part of the continent that was completely different from anything I'd experienced before. I'd become a frequent flier, jetting around the States whenever there would be a group of my new friends getting together for a weekend. It's a lifestyle I never imagined I'd have. I ended up quitting my job in Florida and moving to Santa Barbara, California to reboot my life and expand my opportunities. It's a move I've never regretted, and I have my friends from E2 to thank for it.
Travel has a way of changing you. It makes the world seem smaller, and exposes you to new cultures, ideas and ways of living. It alters the way you see yourself, and puts the sum of your life experiences in a different light. It can become addictive. When I'd run out of North American noders to meet, there was only one logical next step: Go abroad.
Thanks to E2, I had friendly aquaintances in Australia who encouraged me to come down for a visit. I'd never left the United States before, and my first voyage would take me 7000 miles from home. Many of the Australian noders came to Sydney from all parts of the country just to meet me and each other, and it was a reception that was so amazing and fun that I'd end up going back there twice more during that decade. Now that I had a passport and knew how to use it, I got busy meeting as many noders in other countries as I could. I've been all over the UK and New Zealand, to the Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico and Japan for nodermeets. I've spent time in other countries along the way as well. It's possible that I've met more noders than anyone else - over 400 by my count. I certainly did my best trying!
It hasn't all been smooth sailing though. I've had lots of crushes and awkward moments, drank way too much and embarrassed myself more times than I can probably remember. I even met someone through E2 that I fell in love with, and I got my heart broken in the process. It was something that I both regret and value as a life experience. I've met some incredibly brilliant, talented, charming, eloquent, beautiful and special people thanks to E2. These people have all changed me in so many ways. I can't begin to think of what my life may have become had I never had the courage to go out and meet them.
After seven years of living in California, I decided that it was time to end that chapter of my life and begin another. I moved to Portland, Oregon with my partner in 2009, and finally joined what is probably the largest concentration of former noders in this part of the world. Most of us are neighbors, living within the same square mile in the Northeast quadrant of the city. We walk or bike to each other's houses. We share meals and go on holiday trips together. We still have gatherings, though they are not really connected to E2 anymore beyond the history of their inception. I really like it here. I married my partner on Mount Hood in 2010, and we bought a 1914 bungalow that we're in the process of renovating. I think I'll stay a while.
So in short, my life was completely changed forever by this website and the people who I met through it. I know I've said this much before on more than one occasion. But after fourteen years, I feel it bears repeating. I'm still grateful, and no gesture of love and appreciation that I could ever muster would adequately convey the depth of this sentiment.
To Everything2, and to all the wonderful people who I've met through it: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
To all those I haven't seen in years, and may never see again: I miss you and wish you well.
And to those who are gone away from us: Farewell and godspeed.