A few weeks ago a friend of mine passed away suddenly.
It’s strange when you meet someone online. They have this timeless almost ethereal quality in your mind because you don’t ever expect to meet them in person. And then you do.
I met Matt online over ten years ago while killing zombies. I was running 5 server instances of the game Left 4 Dead on a linux box in my basement. Before joining one of those games, we were randomly grouped together. He quickly became a reliable teammate and we got to know each other while putting down hordes of the undead. We both could rely upeon the other to join each other’s games when there was an opening. When greeting me online he would consistently respond with “herro”. The greeting never waivered and eventually I started doing it too. It was a dumb quirk that ended up sticking.
I learned several things about Matt. He was a government worker who lived in Virginia and had a technical background. He was five years my senior and had a sense of humor that jived with my own. We had opposing political beliefs and would clash over several topics.
Although separated by several hundred miles, we managed to catch up with eachother three times in real life. The first was at a LAN party that I hosted one weekend. My roommate and I invited several guys down to stay at our apartment while we all overloaded some power outlets and played some games together. When Matt arrived to that event with his PC, he had brought his 18+ inch CRT monitor. As we both did our best to haul this gargantuan monitor up the flight of stairs to my aparment he was explaining to me how the refresh rate on the CRT made it all worth it. I didn’t understand display hardware particularly well at the time so this confounded me. Many zombies were slain by those in attendance. To complement the theme we also all went to see Zombieland. Great weekend overall.
The second time we met was when I was driving home from vacation in North Carolina. It was a long drive home and I would have welcomed a pit stop along the way. We got in contact and I stopped off at his house for a while. He was trying to overclock a new processor. I watched as he ran several diagnostics on a $400 processor that he had cranked up to some irresponsible level, then make some changes, test it, repeat. Even though I had a technical background I still marvelled at how he knew how to do all these things that I considered foreign at the time.
The last time I saw him was at his wedding when I came down to D.C. with my wife and friend to attend the reception. In an interesting setting, we met some interesting people. It was a blur, like all weddings are, so we didn’t get a lot of face time.
I would have seen him a fourth time at my wedding, but unfortunately he couldn’t make it work.
We weren’t close by any degree, but he definitely had an effect on my life. To keep his memory I can continue to carry some of those learned quirks and idiosyncracies that rubbed off on me. I’ll continue the tedium of overclocking my processors in his honor. And I’ll try to curtail the zombie population.
Good night, baffula, you goddamned sweet prince. May your Steam page stand in all its glory and inspire the next generation of nerds. We’ll miss you buddy.