www.whyville.net Oct 1, 2020 Weekly Issue

Veteran Times Writer

An Excavation

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If you are reading this, you are probably like me: Whyville was a huge part of your life, an integral part of your development and a source of much entertainment when you were young. After years of logging in every few months to see if the site still existed, you noticed something new. Signs of life, so to speak. Avatars, both new and old, began filling the once-barren corners of Beach South, Sunroof, and other former hotspots. People were actually posting in the BBS and, best of all, City Workers were active and reviving the site for the next generation. Naturally, you became a bit excited. Whether you were an avid designer, trading post aficionado, BBS super-poster, or dedicated Times Writer (like myself), you were happy to see Whyville was making a comeback. After blowing a thick layer of dust off my stack of clams and pulling the cobwebs from the corners of my WhyHouse, I started rereading my old Times articles.

I have to ask: is there anything more cringeworthy than looking at our past writings, art, or other sources of pre-pubescent self-expression? I half-laughed and half-groaned at some of the creative writing I once felt were true masterpieces. How could there be so much drama and angst in such a young person? I scanned through the combination of heartfelt poetry and goofy miscellaneous pieces (Magic Calculator Trick, anyone?) And I realized why this newspaper means a lot to me. It is like a time capsule and a diary twisted into one. It is the part of me I wanted the online world to see and reminds me how far I have come as a writer and a person.

Life is busy, but I wanted to make an effort to reread all my past works and reflect on them. Not sure where to start, I decided to go back to 2010 to see what the Times was like ten years ago to the date (which brought me to the September 5, 2010 edition.)

I was an archaeologist at an excavation site, unburying a wealth of old writings on topics long-since forgotten. Seeing the familiar usernames of my fellow writers gave me a strange feeling of homesickness. I had not thought about these writers in years. I wondered what they were up to, where their lives had taken them. Did they remember the Times as fondly as I did? Would they come back upon seeing the Times was revived?

As I peered through the September 5, 2010 edition, I noticed one of my old articles Dear Sierra. Reading it sent me on a journey of bittersweet flashbacks. My heart filled as I noted a reference to my cat, who passed away six years ago. I mentioned my baby brother, who is now a teenager. As I read the piece, I realized there is more information to provide in this story: an update no one was asking for.

To backtrack a bit, the article can largely be summed up as me reminiscing about one of my closest friends in elementary school who unexpectedly moved away. This was before young kids had cell phones, and neither of us used any form of social networking. For the next decade after she moved away, I googled her frequently, in hopes of finding a way to reach out to her. Finally, in 2019, I logged back into Facebook after a long hiatus and noticed a months-old friend request. It was her! I could not believe that after all these years she remembered me too. We began messaging back and forth, catching each other up on what had happened since we had last spoken. As it turns out, her move was due to a bitter custody arrangement between her parents and was very unexpected on her end as well. Fortunately, she said she ended up being much happier living with her father in her new city and the move was one of the best things that could have happened for her. I updated her on how some of our old friends were doing, and we marveled at how time flies. She was a mother now, savoring every moment she had with her son while he was young as she put herself through night school. I was married now and living on the other side of the country. We had a great exchange for a few days but have not had a conversation since.

Truthfully, that is the beauty of old friendships. We were able to pick up where we left off but realized that our lives had gone in different directions. We were happy to reminisce and then carry on with the closure of knowing what happened to one another.

A similar dynamic seems prevalent on Whyville. As we catch up with our old friends, it is easy to wonder how we ever went inactive in the first place and left our Why-lives behind, and that is the beauty of coming back online periodically and seeing old faces. At some point, we grew up and did not need Whyville as much as we once did. But, as evidenced by you reading this article, there was always a tiny part of us that never wanted to fully let go of something that brought us so much joy as kids. Now, we do not necessarily have to, and can reunite with our old childhood friends.

No one is quite sure what the dynamic of Whyville will be once the next generation begins playing and the older generation pops in here-and-there. However, one thing is for sure: there will be no shortage of reminiscing and reconnecting as Whyville embarks on the next chapter of its legacy.

I do not know how often I will write or even who the audience of this newspaper will predominantly be. Pre-teens looking for advice and stories? Older citizens wanting to reminisce? However, I can safely say that by writing this one article, I am reminded of how much joy free-flowing writing such as this can bring. Let me know in a y-mail or BBS post if there is anything particular you want to see next. Should I keep digging through previous Times editions and provide updates to old articles? Should I interview Oldbies to see where their lives have taken them? It does not matter to me. But I am having fun. So I hope the new Times can hang around for a little while...


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