It’s been a year since my old hangout, the STA, faded away from Second Life. But it is still remembered.
My story there began at Luskwood, my first hangout, in August 2007. It was just weeks after by long newbie period could be called over. One day there, I met a lively lady named Kara. She and I became friends, and looked forward to seeing one another. A few days later, she invited me to TP over where she was. So I did, and found myself in a circle of cafe tables & chairs, with two guys with her. She introduced them as Blarion and Keli. She called the place the STA.
Little did I know how big a part of our experience in SL this little place would be.
The STA area, short for Student Travel Association, was bought by the agency for the purpose of attracting people to their website to purchase travel tickets. It was made up of two sims. the east one held the main STA building. It was like that of a fancy travel agency, showing pictures advertising the benefits and joys of traveling abroad. The west one, Orientation Island, was the one my friends and I usually hung around.
The STA was run by two people. GlobetrekkerBob Lane was the official manager of the sim. But a great deal of the work was done by assistant manager Euranna Rossini, or Anna as we called her. We would occasionally run across them near the walkway, where they would talk about an unusual happening, or perhaps a story. GlobetrekkerBob for instance had done quite a bit of world traveling earlier in his life, and would occasionally tell a story from those days. At parties, Anna would always show up. Bob usually did.
They didn’t run things by themselves. They had the help of a small number of volunteers, such as Aellyn, August, Stormshadow, Gemini, Maccy, Sparklin Indigo, Ivana, Rashed, and others. My friends also helped a little, myself offering help to newcomers, so Bob considered us members of the STA group as well, though with no set hours. Blarion also became the DJ for the Monday night parties, with Keli as host. Blarion also got the use of one dorm, even though he wasn’t really a newcomer. Otis was another DJ with a rougher style.
The STA had a partnership with Sean Voss and Landmark Island. The organizer of the Second Life Tour Group had a link to the STA, and would send them notices about his tours. A number of people, myself included, belonged in both groups.
So we hung around there, getting used to the occasional nude newbie, “Ray Stevens music anyone?” I would dryly comment sometimes. Sometimes we would run into a new friend. Sometimes there would be a crazy situation, such as a completely random shapeshifter. Kara changed from a catgirl to a huskygirl a few weeks after I first came across the STA, Blair switched to a wolf avie. Keli was always a Kitsune at Orientation island. Four others joined Kara’s band of friends, three men and a lady. The guys, two huskyboys and a blue raccoon, were Schism and two whom wished to be anonymous. The second huskygirl was Kara’s roommate Kana, whom had a greater mischievous streak than Kara.
Then I got my job at the newspaper, and the place became a favorite spot to take pictures for cartoons. My friends also gave me a few ideas for articles.
The high point of the STA was the “Wandering Art” Show. For three days, the dorms and sandbox gave way to picture art displays in the notrh, and sculpture in the south, with over thirty artists represented. This got the place some publicity, and the costume party was like being able to have some leftover Halloween fun. And in Christmas and New Year’s, the fun continued. At one point, Bob mentioned the Discovery Channel was interested in the sim, but I never did see the place on TV.
Then on January 25, 2008 came something no one expected. I logged on to get a message from Bob that the STA was gone. The company had decided the sim was not getting them an increase in sales, and so they pulled the plug. Those online at the time gathered for a few hours after the last-minute warning, and then the sim vanished. By the time I logged on, they had gathered at a friends beach, talking about what had happened, and about the sim. We were still in disbelief over it, and no one knew for sure what they were going to do next. Bob told a few stories, and stated he was going to take a few days off from Second Life before deciding his next move.
Others expressed their sadness at the STA’s passing. The Shade dance club made plans for a newcomer orientation place on their land. Sean Voss invited us to use his Landmark Island as a hangout, and of course his weekly tours continued. But instead we went in different directions. I followed Kara and friends to hanging out at a sandbox with a “treehouse” building. But a few weeks after the STA closing, Kara told everyone goodbye, saying she was going on a long hiatus. And with her gone, it just wasn’t the same happy little group it once was, and we met less and less. Blarion DJed for a while, but gave it up to concentrate on college.
I never did see Bob again. Anna told me he had come back online once, but mentioned nothing about future plans. Sparklin Indigo soon created a club, Sparks Ignite. It did good for some months, but real life stepped in, and she had to abandon it. Otis found other places to DJ. Euranna Rossini was the most successful, starting up a virtual flower shop: Gairdin na Sidhe. One can still go there to get flowers.
Many old friends from the STA I seldom ran into any more, or never saw again. Then when some friends talked about having a rezzday party for Blarion in June 2008, so many people from the STA were invited, it turned out to be much like a reunion. Some like Otis I hadn’t seen since the STA closed, and would not see again for a while. It was a happy time, and even though the location was different, it felt a little like the old STA had come back for a little while.
A year later, we’ve more or less gone our own ways, some of us keeping occasional tabs with one another. But we’ve never forgotten our old home in Second Life. It may be gone, but the memories of good times and friendships remain.