It’s been well over two years since I last blogged.
Blogging, especially about Second Life, can become an incredibly time-consuming holiday, and life events conspired to make it impossible to continue. But I always thought I’d be back, perhaps not to publish updates as frequently as before, but still writing about the virtual world that is still my second home. What’s happened since I was last here?
Well, it’s been, as that often quoted Chinese curse warns, ‘interesting times’ and you would be inclined to think that after living through those interesting times I’d stop being so surprised by how the universe works and just go with the flow, but occasionally something kicks me up the butt and the synchronicity of it is just so plain weird that it’s worth noting.
A year ago, August 23rd, 2021 in fact, I relinquished the little pied-a-terre that I was enjoying at (the sadly now defunct) Burrow because in real life my Dad had just had a stroke. I had an ominous feeling that I would be taken up with real-life matters, so it seemed only fair to let someone else have the opportunity to rent there.
As it turned out, I didn’t log in for a while because a few weeks later, on September 2nd, my Dad died.
It’s approaching the one-year anniversary of his death and I’m reflecting a lot on events of this time last year, and on what has happened since. I’d booked a cheeky mid-week day off from RL work today without any plans other than chilling, reading, and perhaps a little Second Life. Little did I know that by when I logged in today I would discover a place that made my heart happy when I visited, that coincidentally has been created by the people behind Burrow, Harlow Heslop, and Harvey Blackwood.
A quick side-step: Burrow has been replaced by ‘Eleventh House’, a similarly welcoming community space for all to enjoy, although it’s currently closed for Autumn renovations. I’m a group member, so was delighted to receive a group notecard informing me that it has a sister venue, ‘Salt & Siren’, a coastal café that opened for business on the 17th of August, so of course I immediately decided to pay them a visit, and I am so glad that I did.
Reader, it’s an incredibly lovely place. Imagine New England coastal town vibes coupled with relaxed modern, yet ever-so-slightly sophisticated, dining spaces and you’ll have pictured what ‘Salt & Siren’ is all about. It’s not a large venue, certainly not as big as the behemoth that Burrow became, but one compact, islet space where you can hang out with friends, or perhaps make some new ones.
What makes ‘Salt & Siren’ so special, apart from the absolutely exquisite landscaping and the stunning interior design, is that it is located on the Blake Sea.
Now, I’ve been in Second Life since December 2006 and have dabbled very infrequently with sailing, but when I did give it a go I enjoyed it immensely. More on that later, but I know that it’s a very popular pastime in our virtual world, and there are a lot of avatars who take it very seriously indeed.
If you’re lucky enough to have the kind of graphics card that allows you to ramp it up all the way to eleven, then ‘Salt & Siren’ is an absolute must-visit. You’ll be gifted with a spectacular view that you can enjoy while drinking a virtual coffee and enjoying a slice of pixel-cake while sitting in one of the comfortable chairs that surround the exterior of the café. Inside, the space is decorated with a gentle nautical theme with splashes of both the traditional and modern reflected in the choice of fixtures and fittings. The counter area is resplendent with treats of all kinds and there’s a gorgeous sofa that you can sink into while enjoying a muffin and a conversation with a friend.
That’s the key here: ‘Salt & Siren’ is the kind of place you want to enjoy with a friend, and if those are in short supply visit alone and you’ll be made to feel extremely welcome. It’s a safe, inclusive space where you can feel at home.
This brings me back around to my Dad.
If you’ve been a regular Kittywitchin’ reader over the years, then you’ll know that I actually got my Dad to join Second Life, and he used to meet me in-world in the evenings and we’d go and play ‘Seven Seas Fishing’ when it was all the rage, and funnily enough go sailing on the Blake Sea. Dad was briefly in the Merchant Navy as a young man and would regale me with tales of his seafaring adventures, so it made sense that we bonded in SL over somewhat soggy sea-faring pursuits. We had some fun and lots of laughs along the way. As Dad got older he found SL too taxing. Still, I do treasure those memories of him being in-world with me, because joining and experiencing SL was something really outside of my Dad’s skillset. He found it incredibly daunting initially, but once he got the hang of it he wanted to enjoy it with me, and that meant so much.
Grieving is a funny business, and as I’m discovering it changes as the days and months pass. The wound stops being so raw. It’s like a scab that you have to be careful not to knock off because you’re still healing. Most of the time I’m OK, but occasionally, like at the moment with the anniversary of Dad’s passing looming large, I’m a bit wobbly, so discovering ‘Salt & Siren’ couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m really looking forward to hanging out there, and perhaps even going sailing again.
But most of all I’m happy to have found it because it’s the kind of place that I would have enjoyed with Dad, and I know he would have loved it too.