Seeing all the uproar here about the upcoming changes once again makes me realise how much this place means to everyone. This community has existed for years, a thing few messageboards can say about themselves. There are people here who have been posting for years, even since the beginning, and there are even less messageboards who can say that.
These boards are so much more than any other web forum I have ever seen. Very cheesy to say this, perhaps, but we are a Fellowship. We can have disagreements, but they are mostly solved quickly and diplomatically. We share each other's good days and bad days, the deepest stirrings of our souls we lay bare to one another in our poetry and stories. We laugh and cry together.
Yaralindi once said to me (sorry for quoting you, Yar): 'this is what I love about this place, everything, even disagreeing, is done in friendship and respect. Tolkien would be proud.'
We are more than just a web community. We are a family.
I don't know about you guys, but I have been changed by these Boards. Two years ago I joined because I wanted to read other people's opinions on themes in LOTR. I did not post for myself, because I was ashamed of my clumsy English. When I finally gathered the courage to de-lurk in early 2003, I found myself being embraced into the family (LithyQ who was no mod yet, was the first ever to give me an online hug, even though it took me a week before I could figure that out). I posted my very first poem in February, and in April my very first Inkling. A lot has happened since then. :-)
Also I remember that when I heard about the Gathering in Toronto, where so many Board people would be, I really wanted to go, but thought I would never because that meant I would have to travel to the other side of the world, on my own. My parents would never allow it, and anyway that was just crazy, going all the way there to meet my online friends.
Last December I saw ROTK on Opening night, in an auditorium packed with Ringer friends, at the Canada Tolkien Gathering, and it was the best night of my life.
The people here have become more than just online friends. Whenever Agape posts something, I smile because I see her face. When Varda throws in one of her stirring musings, I can hear her voice speaking in my head. I see Hobbitlove's smile when I read her name. Indis, Agi, Rosie, RosieC, Lizmybit, Tori, Calafalas, Mrs Frodo, Mel, Lyria, Icarus, FredO... I see past the letters and pixels, and past cyberspace, and look into lovely and friendly faces. This summer I'm going to spend with Indis, Elentari and Varda. I'm going on mini-vacations with RosieCotton, Varda, and Agi. These are no things you do with someone you just know 'from the Internet'.
If ever my house would be on fire, I would be hopelessly lost. Too many treasures there that cannot be replaced. My Frodo-pillow and Merry-teddybear which Agi gave me, which I always cuddle whenever I'm sad and can't sleep, my Merry, Frodo and Sam in armour from Lith, which stand at the bottom of my screen as I write my Inklings, my mini-Gandalf bust and TTT litho's that Prim sent me, my coin collection that Lyria gave me, my 'Tale of Ancalimë' book by Mel, even my Toronto travel guide from Calafalas and the stones I've found with Varda on our little vacation. All these things are so precious to me.
I just wish I had someone here in the RW with whom I could talk, who would understand my distress about these upcoming changes. Because, in whatever way you look at it, changes always mean loss. We the 'old guard' will always feel something missing.
I just desperately hope that it won't be each other.
I stand by what I wrote yesterday in that clumsy poem of mine: it's not the house that makes it a home, it's the people, and the furniture, and the memories.