I went to Spain for two weeks and met two lovers, a Flickr friend, and an MBA classmate and his wife. I wouldn't go into detail about the trip itself, because I have a separate travel blog for that. But I will talk about the trip's relevance to SL.
First, the two lovers. They were my lovers in SL years ago. Then they became busy. One explicitly set boundaries that we are only friends in RL, but the evening I spent with him in real life was absolutely magical and he treated me like a close friend. The other had claimed me in both SL and RL, but we spent maybe only a couple of hours together; he was busy with work and family and I was busy with sightseeing. But those two hours are memorable even.
Maybe I've been lucky. That trip brings the number of SL lovers that I met in RL up to 4. Each of those lovers are just as I imagined them. Their personalities were the same in RL as in SL, although two of them held back romantic gestures because of their marital circumstances.
Or maybe it's because these lovers are among the most important to me throughout my life in SL; therefore, meeting them in real life only deepened the connection we have.
After saying goodbye to each of them after meeting them, I cried. Because these are men I love and I may never see them again.
Second, the Flickr friend. She was really more like an acquaintance. In fact, I had originally avoided her, because I had felt a jealousy for her because of another lover. But she started following me in Flickr and commenting on my images there. Then she found me in another social media and connected with me, revealing her RL identity.
When we met up in Barcelona, we spent the afternoon at a children's park, going on the rides and shooting photos and talking and talking and talking until it was very late. It was amazingly easy to talk to her. In the end, I admitted my old jealousy and the reason for it. It was something I would not wish to hide when building a friendship. But I regretted it a little when she started feeling sad and nostalgic as our conversation flowed into past loves and betrayals.
Third, the sights. Not all the sights but specifically La Rambla, the Columbus monument, and the Plaza Reial, which were replicated in the Barcelona del Oeste sim before it was renovated. And also the Mezquita mosque in the Al Andalus Generalife sim before it disappeared.
I knew that the plaza in the old Barcelona del Oeste was based on a real-life plaza. It was a special place for me because of all the memories I have in that plaza -- conversations and dances with lovers and friends. I wanted to find it in the RL Barcelona, but I didn't realize that there were a gazillion plazas all over Barcelona. And then, when the Captain led me to an alley to head back to my hotel, we passed through the Plaza Reial, and I realized that it was THE plaza. I was amazed and awed.
I walked the La Rambla a few times since my first day in Barcelona and I even took pictures of the Columbus monument, but it was a few days later when I realized that it was also part of the Barcelona del Oeste sim.
When I found out that the Mezquita is in Cordoba, which is near Seville, I made sure to go and visit it as well. When I first saw the replica in SL, it already made my heart beat faster. It was that awe-inspiring. When I first saw the real thing, my jaw literally dropped.
Of course, I learned that the replicas were not accurate. They were simplified versions of the real thing. Probably because of the prim allowances. The SL version of La Rambla was shorter, the monument was not exact, the plaza is a lot smaller, and the Mezquita replica was probably based on the way the real Mezquita was before the expansions and before the cathedral was built inside it.
So there. I've "exported" people and places from SL to my RL, and it was a wonderful experience. I've met SL people in RL before, but this is the first time I've encountered SL places in RL. The people and the places now have a deeper meaning to me and I have a stronger connection with them.
I'll not look at SL the same way again.