A few people have been asking me about my on/off online friend, Sachiko. Whether I've heard from her, or tried to contact her to find out if she's all right. The answer to both questions is no, and I'm getting a few funny looks over it. So that people don't think I'm some sort of heartless bastard, I think I should set the record straight.
I met Sachi in 2003 while playing Final Fantasy XI. We hung out in game enough that we ended up exchanging emails, and over time that moved to talking to each other using various methods of voice communication. I've known her ever since, but our friendship consisted mostly of poking fun at each other and talking about video games. I know next to nothing about her except that she's obsessed with video games - Final Fantasy in particular - and that she lives in Tokyo (no, I don't know what part), so it's likely that she's safe, though almost certainly not unaffected. I remember that she has a brother and that her dad owns some sort of business, but that's really about it. I don't even know her family name. Heck, for all I know, Sachiko isn't even her real name.
She was always fun to talk to when she was around, but that was mostly when she didn't have a boyfriend. Though it took me a few years to realize why she'd go off the radar for long periods of time, I finally put it together that these were the times she was dating someone. When she'd break up with them, she'd suddenly show up again, and I'd hear from her multiple times per day for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Then, she'd drop out of sight again. She never talked about her relationships when she was around, she just wanted to flirt, smack talk and discuss games and movies, but after a few years of this, it was pretty obvious what was going on. I don't think there was any malicious intent on her part here. She just wanted attention and I think she thought it was amusing to have a foreign guy to cut up with online. I knew it was harmless and at first it didn't really bother me, but eventually I just felt a bit like I was being used and got tired of it. It's one thing to want to unwind with a friend when you've had a romantic falling out. It's another thing to pretend that friend doesn't exist and go completely invisible the moment you're getting your attention fix somewhere else. The next time she showed up, I told her as politely as I could how I felt, and I haven't heard from her since. That was maybe a year ago. I haven't been keeping track so I'm not really sure.
Luckily, I'd never developed any kind of serious crush on her (I'm honestly not sure why I didn't, but I'm VERY glad of it) or become otherwise attached to her as a good friend, so it wasn't especially hard to cut ties. Likewise, I know she never felt anything special for me, so it probably wasn't hard for her to just drop me when I told her I didn't want to play along anymore.
In short, we knew each other for a long time but we were never anything more than very casual acquaintances who amused each other with large amounts of inane conversation and a very small amount of online gaming (she was extremely hard to pull away from Final Fantasy XI). During something as serious as what's happened in Japan, I'm not one of the people she's going to want to hear from. She's probably got enough going on now without being bothered by calls from a sometimes internet gaming friend in a distant land who she only even knows as a voice and a handful of photos. I don't think we ever ONCE discussed anything even remotely serious. I do hope she and her family are all right and I've prayed for her a few times since all of this started, but I'm not going to try to call her (not that I'd even know where to start if I wanted to). I doubt getting up with me has even crossed her mind, and there's really no reason it should. I do hope I hear something at some point, but I have to accept that it may not happen and if it doesn't, I don't feel it's right for me to pursue it. I only knew her online, I don't know any of her family, and we just weren't that close. That might sound a bit mean, but really I do hope she's okay and I only wish her the best. It just wouldn't serve any useful purpose, for me or for her, to tear myself up with worry for someone I didn't know very well, when it's quite likely that I may never even find out anything.