Part 3: Stuck in a void - Age 13 - 17

    I enjoyed the rest of the summer as best as I could. On the first Planet Cyber session after being back

from vacation, I met up with John Jo. They had the new Warcraft 3 expansion available to play, and the

two of us tried it out. 

     I had a sleepover with Charlie and Elijah, and they introduced me to their friend Julian Ritz-Barr. Julian

went to Topanga Elementary with us, though he was two grades lower, so I never knew him beforehand.

I thought he was very cool, but a bit stupid. We competed with each other at Planet Cyber. I continued

to see him with Charlie and Elijah a few more times after that.      

     Coincidentally, Julian’s parents were friends with Rob Lemelson, and I didn’t know this at the time. A

few years down the line, I would cross paths with Julian again at one of the Lemelson’s parties, where I

would spitefully envy him for being so confident with everyone.


     When the summer ended, I cried a little. It was such a great summer. I went on a vacation, I saw lots

of friends, played lots of games, and enjoyed life to its fullest. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that

this was the last good summer in my life, but I still cried… as I always do after a joyful experience comes

to an end.


     Eighth Grade began on a very mellow note. For the first couple of months, I continued on with the life

I’ve been living, and things seemed ok. The main people I hung out with at school were Alfred Graham,

Gavin Dowd, and Brice Miller. Alfred was just getting good at skateboarding, and he was starting to

become popular with the skateboarders. He once brought his skateboard to school and landed a kickflip,

the move I was never able to master in the past. I was secretly jealous, even though I insisted to

everyone that I was no longer interested in skateboarding.

     I started to take more notice of the kids in lower grades, specifically the Seventh Graders. There was

one who came in from Topanga Elementary, the older brother of one of Georgia’s friends. His name was

Neil Davis. I observed the popular kids of Seventh Grade... In a way they visually mimicked the popular

kids of my own grade. They were all the same, though the Seventh Graders seemed a lot meaner. I

noticed that Neil Davis was starting to be friends with them, even with the pretty girls. I would gradually

develop a great envy towards him. Another one was Lucky Radley, the black kid I played with in father’s

neighborhood. He transferred to Pinecrest during that very year, and he immediately became popular

with the pretty girls of his grade. I hated him for it.

     Things were getting more intense every year we grew older, and I didn’t want to grow up. I wanted to

live the life I was comfortable with. I wanted to live in a world of fairness, and I tried not to accept that it

would soon come to an end.


     The games I enjoyed playing at Planet Cyber were too powerful to run on my mother’s computer, so

Planet Cyber was the only place I could play them. That was until I asked my father to buy me Warcraft 3

to install on his powerful laptop. I got the Frozen Throne expansion to go with it, and once it was

installed I was able to play it on his laptop whenever he allowed me to. I thought it was really cool to

actually play an online game from my own home. Father’s house became a lot more fun after this,

though I hated it when Soumaya set limits on my playtime. 

     When father invited the Bubenheims over, Alex sometimes brought his friends Gary and Antje Twinn.

They had a son named Vincent, who was the same age as my sister and a good friend of Lukas. Vincent

was a kind-hearted and sweet little boy who was a bit overweight. I showed him Warcraft 3 on my

father’s computer. He was very interested in the game, and he would watch me for hours. He really

looked up to me. We got along well.

     One day, I was looking up things on the internet about Warcraft 3. That is when I found out about a

new, revolutionary Warcraft game coming out, called World of Warcraft. I didn’t think much of it at the

time, ignorant of the effect it would have on me in my later life.


     Gradually, my friendship with John Jo, Charlie, and Elijah started to wane. They no longer came over

as a group anymore. Our usual Friday sleepovers stopped happening, as they got more busy with other

things. John Jo and Charlie slowly started to get bored of Planet Cyber, which caused them to lose their

interest in coming over every week. I continued to see them individually; sometimes I would see Charlie

and Elijah together, sometimes just Elijah, and sometimes just John Jo.

     Due to them coming over less often, I began to walk to Planet Cyber alone. I never did this before,

because my friends came over so much and we would go together. I would usually play Diablo 2 or

Warcraft 3 there. For a time, I did this as a routine without getting bored. Sometimes I would meet John

Jo there and we would have intense Warcraft 3 competitions with each other.

     After a few more weeks into autumn, I began to get a bit depressed over the fact that the good times

I had with my main group of friends was fading away. I started to walk to Planet Cyber alone just to

reminisce such times. Sometimes I would stay there for hours into the night. I never thought I would get

bored of the highly entertaining games there, but after playing them so much on my own, I was

surprised that I was getting a bit bored. Good times always come to an end, and I always had a hard

time accepting this fact.


     One time while I was alone at Planet Cyber, I saw an older teenager watching pornography. I saw in

detail a video of a man having sex with a hot girl. The video showed him stick his penis inside a girl’s

vagina. I didn’t know anything about sex at the time. I barely even knew what sex was. I was slowly

starting to develop sexual feelings for hot girls, but I didn’t know what to do with them. To see this video

really traumatized me. I had no idea what I was seeing… I couldn’t imagine human beings doing such

things with each other. The sight was shocking, traumatizing, and arousing. All of these feelings mixed

together took a great toll on me. I walked home and cried by myself for a bit. I felt too guilty about what

I saw to talk to my parents about it. I was quite shaken for a few days.

     This was among the very first glimpses I had of sex. Finding out about sex is one of the things that

truly destroyed my entire life. Sex… the very word fills me with hate. Once I hit puberty, I would always

want it, like any other boy. I would always hunger for it, I would always covet it, I would always fantasize

about it. But I would never get it. Not getting any sex is what will shape the very foundation of my

miserable youth. This was a very dark day. 

     Soon enough, I would inevitably find out about what sex was, whether I saw that foul video or not.

Boys at my school started talking about it. Connor Hanrahan and his friend Jordan Carlton one day told

me exactly what happens when a man and a woman have sex. Finding out about sex was just the

beginning of my horrific downfall.


     My father and mother arranged to change our routine back to one-week, one-week. Father wanted

to spend more time with us, and it was agreed that this would be the way. I was angry about this,

because I felt satisfied with the way things were. If it went back to one-week, one-week, I would have to

spend time at father’s even if father wasn’t there, and I hated that. I didn’t see how it enabled father to

spend more time with us, because he was always going away for work anyway. But alas, I had no choice

in the matter, and the arrangement was set. This is how it would remain from that point on... My living

arrangement wouldn’t change again until I turn 18 and Soumaya kicks me out.


     When Christmas came, I told father that I would like a new computer game. Father took me out

shopping for my new present. We first went to Comp USA on Victory Boulevard, but they didn’t have a

large selection of games. I was on the verge of just choosing to buy Diablo 2, a game I had already spent

hours on at Planet Cyber. But then, I decided that since Best Buy was just across the street, we should go

and have a look at the games there. 

     At Best Buy, I saw the game World of Warcraft. It had just come out a few weeks ago. I picked up the

box and looked at it for a few minutes. The game looked amazing and alluring, so I decided to choose

World of Warcraft as my Christmas present. I spent more time looking it over and reading about it on

the way home. 

     The only computer I could play World of Warcraft on was father’s laptop, but father was always using

his laptop for work. I had to wait a long time to get a chance to play it. After reading the game manual, I

got extremely excited to play it. It was a whole new type of game for me, an MMORPG that would

enable me to make my own character in a huge online fantasy world, and it was a world I was already

familiar with through playing Warcraft 3. This game was a hundred times bigger than any game I’ve

played in the past. The more I read about the game, the more anticipated I became. 

     After almost a month went by after getting World of Warcraft, I was finally able to play it. I made a

WoW account with my father, and then I created my first character, a night elf druid. It really blew my

mind. My first experience with WoW was like stepping into another world of excitement and adventure.

It was a video game world, but they made it so realistic that it was like living another life, a more exciting

life. My life was getting more and more depressing at that point, and WoW would fill in the void. It felt

refreshing and relieving. I was only able to play it for a few hours for my first session. It was all I would

think about when I wasn’t able to play it.


     Mother didn’t have a good enough computer to run World of Warcraft, so I felt a bit frustrated

because of that. I thought of how awesome it would be if Planet Cyber had the game, but I doubted that

it did. One afternoon, I walked to Planet Cyber with my WoW disks and asked them if they can install my

disks onto one of their computers. The owner told me the game was already being installed, and I was

thrilled to hear those words. It wasn’t ready yet, however, and I had to wait. I kept going back to Planet

Cyber every day to wait for it, and played other games there while they were still processing it. It was a

fun wait, and I knew I will eventually be able to play it. Finally, after spending three days at Planet Cyber

waiting, it was ready. I loaded the game and logged onto my account. I was completely ecstatic. I spent

all of my free time in the next few days playing it. The owner of Planet Cyber came to know me because

of this series of events, and he named me his best customer.


     I invited Charlie over, and he came with Stephen, an old friend from Topanga Elementary whom I

hadn’t seen for a while. I found out that they both had their own WoW accounts, and we went to Planet

Cyber to play it together. I made a new character on their server just to play with them, though I would

eventually discard this character.

     I saw Charlie only a few more times after that. Elijah was busy with some life problems and stopped

coming over. John Jo simply vanished from my life at this point, for no particular reason. I can’t recall the

exact last time I saw him, but it was around this period.


     My mother decided to move to an apartment in Woodland Hills. I reacted indignantly. An apartment!

I had never lived in an apartment before, and I always thought of apartments as being poor and low-

class. I would be embarrassed to admit it to anyone. 

     The apartment building was called the Renaissance Apartments, near the Warner Center area of

Woodland Hills. We moved into a two bedroom apartment. Mother knew I was too old to share a room

with my sister, so she gave me the second bedroom, and she and my sister shared the master bedroom.

     Leaving the blue house on Glade Avenue was hard. I had so many good times with my friends there.

And to move out of it at the very time that I stopped seeing those friends… it was quite emotional. I

cried on our last day there.

     My mother’s new apartment was not walking distance from Planet Cyber, and I was a bit

embarrassed to show that I lived in an apartment, so I stopped seeing any friends. Elijah was the last

person in the group who I saw. I was at Planet Cyber and he tapped me on the shoulder. It was a

random meeting. The two of us talked for a bit about the new Halo 2 game, and I showed him my WoW

character. That was the last time I saw him.

     Eventually, I lost all contact with Charlie, John Jo, and Elijah. The friends I had such a good times with

for the last two years were no longer my friends. They were lost to me. I also stopped seeing Philip and

Jeffrey… they simply just forgot about me, I assumed. The only friend who remained to me was James


     The upside of moving to the apartment was that my mother acquired high speed internet. I was able

to play World of Warcraft on her computer, along with Halo 2 on Xbox Live. 

     This was the point when my social life ended completely. I would never have a satisfying social life

ever again. It was the beginning of a very lonely period of my life, in which my only social interactions

would be online through video games, with the sole exception being my friendship with James. The

ability to play video games with people online temporarily filled in the social void. I got caught up in it,

and I was too young and naïve to realize the severity of how far I had fallen. I was too scared to accept

it. This loss of a social life, coupled with the advent of puberty, caused me to die a little inside. It was too

much for me to handle, and I stopped caring about my life and my future. I even stopped caring about

what people thought of me. I hid myself away in the online World of Warcraft, a place where I felt

comfortable and secure.

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