By hibana, HSM Advertising Editor
Let’s face it: a lot of people are on Home, and other virtual realities, looking for love.
You can dress it up or justify it any way you want: they’re looking for “friendship” or “to make connections,” but these are euphemisms. You need only look at the behavior of a fair percentage of Home’s population on any given day and see this quest in action, with hilarious, poignant and painful results.
Sometimes it’s juvenile: “wanna be my online gf?” is a question asked far, far too often. These are just teenagers with more hormones than common sense. Their loneliness is screaming out at the world with every text bubble.
Sometimes it’s emotionally distressing. You form an emotional and intellectual bond with someone, only to find out that the pictures (or even the gender) were faked. People become trapped in webs of their own lies, because appearances do matter – as does honesty.
Sometimes, however…lightning strikes.
It has to. Just look at the numbers. There are many, many people throughout the western world who have signed up on internet dating sites. A growing number of people meet their future spouses online, and this is a trend which will only continue to accelerate as younger generations grow up and mature.
(Consider, for a moment: the generation born in 1990 is already in college. And to this group, the internet has always existed. Attempting to describe the analog world that existed as little as ten years prior to their birth is like trying to explain daily life in Alexander’s Macedonia. There’s just no sense of connection.)
This is a touchy subject. Heck, love is probably the touchiest subject anyone can ever write about. Because it’s intensely personal, and inherently vulnerable. There are a lot of failed love stories on Home.
It’s time to read about a successful love story.
These are two users you’ve almost certainly never heard of: coco_cnhand sodium76. You’ll probably never meet them. They have done nothing to earn fame or great wealth. They are simply two people who use Home.
They are also an astonishing, genuine love story. I’m frankly grateful I had the opportunity to speak with them. Most of my conversation was with Coco, as Marc was quite shy about the whole matter.
I. “HIS LITTLE BALL OF SUNSHINE”
HomeStation Magazine: So, tell me about yourselves; where are you both from? Do you live together in real life?
Coco_cnh: Sodium76 is from Quebec, Canada; he speaks French and English, but he is quite shy. I’m from Texas. It was actually Marc (Sodium76) who made the choice to fly down here when we agreed to meet for the first time.
Sodium76: Three short hours on a plane but a month of nervousness waiting for it!
HSM: Let’s get a bit of backstory. You two both met in PlayStation Home? At the EA Poker Rooms? How exactly did you two get to know each other?
Coco: We met on Home on December 10th, 2009, and in real life on March 12th, 2010. We played poker together a lot. We never spoke much, but always tried to get the same table. It only took us a few days for both of us to warm up and start conversations together.
HSM: Most of the time, it takes a while to break the ice between two strangers.
Coco: Yes. When we started getting to know each other better, I’d just be talking to him and playing without even caring about my cards. We just got caught up having fun with each other…and then there was one day when he told me I was his little ball of sunshine.
HSM: Really! How did you react when he called you that?
Coco: It was just a month after we met, but I was all smiles and giggles. If you’d have told me a year ago that I would fall in love online, I wouldn’t believe it.
HSM: And he would end up being your future husband.
Coco: It’s frankly easy to fall for someone – but being truthful and willing to let down that barrier to meet in real life is very hard. We just both had a special set of circumstances that allowed us to restart our lives together. It’s so easy to talk to people on Home, but it’s a whole different story in the real world. Still – I couldn’t stop thinking about what this guy was really like.
II. GOING ALL-IN
HSM: Speaking of meeting in real life, how did that all come about? That’s a huge step. Who initially broached the idea?
Coco: I actually asked him to chat on mic/cam on my second message to him. I’d actually been thinking of moving up to Montreal, but my mother got sick and the job prospect didn’t work out. He then decided, in poker terminology, that it was time for him to go “all in” and make his big move.
HSM: An interesting set of coincidences, or destiny’s hand at work, as corny as that may sound?
Coco: Very much destiny. I think we were never really happy until we found each other through Home.
HSM: Home was originally just supposed to be a social hub for gamers (as far as I know); I think it’ll be interesting for people, including Sony, to know that it goes way beyond that.
Coco: But it’s GREAT for dating. You already have things in common, such as gaming.
HSM: As you know, though, there are a lot of creeps out there – and a ton of harassment – which largely discredits Home as a “dating hub.”
Coco: I’ve met my fair share. Marc was the first truly kind and attractive man I’d ever seen on Home.
HSM: Your story might turn some heads and make them think otherwise about the whole dating-on-Home situation.
Coco: We hope so. We want to eventually do a dating-on-Home advice blog. We thought everything out when we made the decision to meet.
(Editor’s note: this particular story deals with two consenting adults who voluntarily chose to take certain risks. As there are legal minors using Home, it should be noted that HSM does not condone or endorse any behavior which is in violation of Sony’s terms of usage.)
Coco: Besides, I see a lot of “virtual marriages” on Home all the time, so I think such a blog would gather a lot of attention. We actually went all the way.
HSM: I believe you two are the first couple that I’m aware of that’s actually accomplished this on Home. Let’s talk about how the first real-world meeting went. Was it hectic?
Coco: He was packing literally three hours before the plane took off. His family even threw him a going-away party.
HSM: Was it tough for him to leave everything he knew? Did he have any regrets?
Coco: No. He’d always lived his life to make others happy, and he viewed this as him finally taking control of his life. His family got a PS3 and Eyecam, so we can talk with them whenever we wish.
III. WATCHING THE BUTTERFLIES
HSM: Let’s talk about the actual first meeting between you two. Marc has finished his flight from Montreal to Texas. What was going through both of your minds?
Coco: Honestly, I didn’t know how I felt. He felt the same. We were both nervous and excited to actually come face to face with each other.
HSM: And when you both finally met…?
Coco: The airport was very crowded and busy. I’d been waiting for him to come out of the arrival point, but it was hard to tell people apart with all the traffic. My heart was beating so fast! Finally, I saw him exit out, and I just ran to him. Calling his name. There were so many people coming out that he couldn’t hear me. When I finally walked up to him, he just grabbed me and kissed me.
HSM: SO ROMANTIC! This is seriously too much like a movie; I can’t believe this is actually real.
Coco: It was!
HSM: The way that moment unfolded – was it how you pictured it in your mind?
Coco: I never put a thought to that, actually; and I know that, to him, it was all a big shock. It took him a week to get used to the fact that this was his new life.
Marc: I was just in awe that I was holding the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Coco: After that, we drove. We stopped at this beautiful park and we just sat on a bench, talking to each other, and watched the butterflies.
HSM: Coco, you’re a lucky woman.
Coco: Thank you. I still cry about it. It was very emotional for him, and he is so good with my family and I.
HSM: I’m assuming you both stayed at your home?
Coco: Actually, we didn’t live with each other for the first month. He stayed at a local Holiday Inn.
HSM: …By choice?
Coco: Yes. It’s something most people wouldn’t think of doing. But, no matter how much time you spend online, you can never prepare yourself for the shock of it. In a way, you are still strangers.
HSM: Makes sense; as much as you know someone online, it’s still totally different when it happens in the real world.
Coco: Exactly. So he lived in the hotel to build up our relationship, and it gave us time away from each other to reflect on our actions.
HSM: What were your thoughts and feelings when you were away from him, even though he was so close?
Coco: We just missed the hell out of each other – we’d see each other for a few hours every day, and we ended up staying on camera with each other most of the rest of the time! After three weeks, I couldn’t take it — so I decided to live in the hotel for a while with him. That way it was just us. No outside interference.
HSM: It must have felt strange for him to be in a place where he knew no one – except for you – and spent all his time holed-up in that hotel, alone.
Marc: It was, but it was really worth it. We didn’t want to rush things, and we were free while living in the hotel. It was really fun for both of us.
Coco: It was the perfect space to be alone and have peace and quiet. We learned SO much about each other.
HSM: Such as?
Coco: Well, Marc’s a neat freak. And he’s one of those guys that dumb girls say are “just too nice.” After dating many jerks, it was refreshing to meet a kind and caring guy for once. Even after he discovered how messy I can be!
HSM: But you two were both accepting of these quirks?
Coco: Oh, yes. I also taught him how to drive a car, too! He used the metro system in Montreal, and it takes years to get a driver’s license in Quebec, so he didn’t bother to get one. And, in return, he taught me French. But most importantly…
Coco: We taught each other how to be happy. We learned what true love is. And we taught each other to let go of the past. How to just let go of all the old baggage that life gives you. Everyone has bad memories, or something in life that bothers them; but, together, we just let that all go.
IV. “I HAVEN’T TOLD YOU THIS YET…”
HSM: So when did you decide to let him move in with you?
Coco: After he’d been here a month. I used to live alone, but after my mother got sick, both of my folks moved in so we could both take care of her. I have a large house, so Marc had space for himself as well.
HSM: Ah, so Marc inevitably had to meet your parents.
Coco: They loved him immediately. Everything clicked, and since Marc never had a father…
HSM: Oh – I see.
Coco: He and my dad are so ridiculously funny and crazy together. It’s a fulfilling aspect to his life here.
HSM: This whole story reminds me of a puzzle, being connected piece by piece.
Coco: There’s another piece. I haven’t told you this yet. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Since Marc and I met, he has helped me to let go of it a bit.
HSM: …I’m sorry. I’m just at a loss for words. I can’t believe this. Honestly, this is too much.
Coco: It’s okay. I just feel better because I’m happier. It didn’t make it go away, but it lets me forget in moments of laughter and smiles. I think love can do anything. Having someone to stand beside you, to take care of you, accepting you no matter what…it makes you a healthier person in the long run. I think we are inseparable now. And on February 14th, 2011, we are expecting a baby!
HSM: How long did it take for you two to decide that it was time to start a family of your own together? How did you even reach such a decision?
Coco: I was told many times that I would never have children because of my diagnosis, but Marc would never accept that. He just said it will happen if it’s meant to be; apparently, he has magic DNA.
HSM: This is amazing. I’m serious.
Coco: All natural. No fertility drugs. No crazy planning. I think people just try too hard and lose sight of what a baby is; I think it’s just a manifestation of your love. It all goes back to love.
V. WORTH THE LEAP
HSM: Congratulations! It’s funny how a game of online poker helped you both get together today.
Coco: That’s the great part about dating on Home. You get to see how a person interacts and reacts to situations. You get to see much more of a true person than just what a dating site will show you.
HSM: I’m pretty sure dating sites don’t have poker or bowling to offer…
Coco: I’m so hopeful that other couples share our happiness soon. Other sites are just text and pictures; you can’t see how a person would dress, decorate his house, or react to you getting hit on by a random guy. Home is wonderful.
HSM: Coco, it’s going to be difficult to persuade people about this happening successfully on Home. But they should know that it IS possible; you two are the living proof of it, after all.
Coco: I know that not everyone can afford to do the things that we did – but if you’re both adults who have a healthy, long-term relationship on Home, then it might be worth the leap.
HSM: Just like the poker game where you first met. You went all-in, and won. Home proves that love can happen just about anywhere.
Coco: It truly does. And the results are astonishing. My health had really gotten me down, and he has helped me balance work and pushed me to use my heart. He gave me happiness. Meanwhile, his family says that I brought life back into his eyes. He dealt with depression for many years. I can’t really say more than that, sorry. I can tell you, however, that now he works alongside me, and enjoys every moment of life.
HSM: You two really were made for each other, in the truest sense of the phrase.
Coco: I wake up every day beside him. I know I’m right where I need to be in life, and I’m happy with the cards I was dealt, no matter what.
HSM: Most couples – most people – would do anything to have a fairytale story like yours.
Coco: No matter how bad you think your life is…a new one – the one you were meant to have – is waiting for you. He and I were both broken souls, drifting. But that all went away, and we never looked back.
This whole story just seemed too unbelievable to take in. But it’s real. And I had to accept that.
I’m not really sure how to conclude this. There are so many failed stories out there. So much pain and tragedy. Do you find yourself envious, reading this? Do you find yourself doubting it? Or has Home worked similar magic for you?
This is an unusual story for HSM. It has very little to do with video games. There are no whiz-bang tech elements. The interviewees are both unknowns. It’s a story you won’t really find covered in any other fan project devoted to Home. It’s simply the story of two soul mates who found each other, thanks to Home. Perhaps that is the single greatest service Home provides, without even realizing it.
HSM would very much like to hear your feedback regarding this story. Many thanks to you for reading it. And my gratitude and support goes to Coco and Marc. May we all find what we’re looking for.
May we all find what they found.