“So, what have you been up to, Danko? You seemed to have disappeared,” said a friend who caught me in one of my rare – of late – ventures out into public view. “Yes, I know. It’s quite a long story. But it’s all good, as they say. Just a bit sudden and out of character to some,” I replied uneasily. “I’ll say,” came the response.

It is not out of character actually but I understand it might appear that way. I guess the best way to explain it – and the quickest – is to say I am deeply involved in a writing project. I have had to curtail some other activities – as important as they were to me – in order to give this project the proper attention. This project could easily consume me…if there weren’t additional ventures keeping me busy as well. And if I weren’t on guard against being consumed by a project.

Add to that, a major change in the world we call RL – a wonderful change for me – which has had an unexpected effect in this place we (amusingly) refer to as the virtual world. In RL, I have stepped out of the spotlight – something I have yearned to do for some time – much to the surprise of those in the gallery. I had looked forward to this period as I assumed it would afford me the opportunity to spend more time on my on-going actitives in this world.

But the gallery put up such a stink about it that I literally had to fight my way to the exits. While this might amount to more grist for the ego for some, it was not what I needed. If I were that way, I would not have left the spotlight in the first place.

What I did not expect was that the desire to leave the stage in that first world would carry over to the second. But it did.

So I retreated.

Titles, responsibilities, land and probably some other things have been shed. All this did not happen immediately as I did not quite realize what was going on, what it was that I wanted. But once I did, I took action. I had to.

But then I found myself in a place called, “Now What?”

I didn’t have the answer. But I needed a place to be while I looked for it. The only thing I knew for sure was that I would write my way through it. And I needed a place to do that.

When I began this journal, I wrote about needing to find “my place” when I was going through an earlier life change in this world. I found my place in Winterfell. It has been the one constant in an ever-evolving life. And this time, though I wasn’t sure what would be next for me, I did know that Winterfell would be a part of it.

It was the Seneschelf who guided me to my next stop here. As I handed her the keys to Winterfell Evergreen, I told her, “Let me know the next time a small spot opens up in the north.”

She knew how I loved the north of Winterfell. Even though my first home here was in Laudanum, as was my pub and personal office, and my official office was in Absinthe, and my “character” and “way” was Victorian and Steampunk…even though all of these things tied me to the south of Winterfell…it was in the north I have always found the peace I wanted, needed. It was where I went to write or to sit by the fire alone with my thoughts and my music. When I was in my retreats in Ravens Reach and later Ebonshire, few were those who were invited to visit; rare were such occurrences.

“Why don’t you think about moving into one of the cottages in the Riverside colony in Ebonshire?” Lady Twilight offered. Then she reminded me, I was the one who had said she should make a special appeal to writers and artists to live there. She did not try to convince me, it was an offer of help. I told her I would think about it.

Later that evening, I found myself in Ebonshire, walking about Riverside. “How much do these cottages go for?” I asked in a message. I moved in that weekend.

So I have not disappeared. Yes, I have retreated, withdrawn from the centers of activity. But I am still here. I am here more than I am anywhere else. I am here, next door to the parcel where my old cottage was, alone, with my thoughts, my music. I am writing up a storm! I am mapping out other projects. I do travel to another world, a second virtual home for me now, as I have made time to return to exploring. I explore here and there, and other wheres and whens. And then I come back to Ebonshire to write it all down. And to just chill.

Some others have left Winterfell recently to find their way to what was next for them. I have not. Winterfell is the way to what is next for me. And here I will stay. No matter where my travels or my writing or my life journey take me.

This is my place. Winterfell is home.