Being a preteen in 2001 was a strange experience. I acutely remember watching the events of September 11th happen live on a television while in 7th grade civics class. Even as a kid I knew the climate of the grown-up world was shaken in many ways and could feel the stress. I couldn’t escape into the usual social activities of kids my age because I was chronically bullied for lack of athletic ability and being odd in general. Therefore, having no friends.
Conveniently for me, this was right around the time when channels for internet communication were increasing. I was then introduced to The Palace Chat via Neopets. On the Palace I could be whoever I wanted to. I could create an avatar (aka pixel doll) that looked how I wanted to look, and I could display the confidence that I lacked in real life. I cycled through a few different styles of dolls until I ended up with some sort of Good Charlotte tier MTV punk style and settled in with the other Palace users that had a similar style. This is where I met Jen. Jen loved the color green and Bowling for Soup.
Many of the girls in my Palace friend group were not particularly welcoming and the only way I got in was by having cool avatars to trade, being good at edits and liking the same music. Jen was always kind, helpful and we quickly became friends. This was around the time The Palace was fading out for our group. There weren’t as many people interested in having a server curated to the style we subscribed to and much of the Palace was starting to be overrun by skeevy adults and correlated servers. Jen and I continued to remain friends on AIM, played Neopets together and eventually started playing an MMORPG called Dark Ages (this was pre-Warcraft era). I also confirmed that Jen was actually a girl and not a middle-aged man when we chatted on web cam and later when she added me on myspace.
I played Dark Ages with her for about a year until I got frustrated and quit. Jen was significantly better at the game than I was and made every effort to help me even if it slowed her down. When I was thinking about writing this entry, I realized Jen was better than I was at every hobby we shared. However, she never made me feel like that. She always wanted to help me be better. I continued talking to Jen until about sophomore year of high school, she was a couple years older than me, so our communication tapered when she went off to college.
I wish I could find Jen but unfortunately, I deleted my myspace over 10 years ago, I cannot remember her last name or even the exact state she lived in. She used some iteration of the username GreenQueen or GreenQueenJen with numbers or Xs at the end. So Jen, if you ever see this please know that I appreciate you for being my friend at a rough time in my life and I would love to hear from you.