I was born and raised on Phobos, and was just finishing up middle school when the Fall happened. To this day, I still remember seeing all those refugee ships passing by, a few of them landing and disgorging loads of hungry, dirty and impoverished folks. I will never forget how I met my first boyfriend: I was volunteering to to help take refugee children on walks around the inside of Phobos, helping them to get to know the area. He, a fall evacuee himself, started volunteering too, and we found ourselves head over heels in love. I was so naive then, thinking that we would get married, buy a thousand square feet of floor space, get a pet octopus, take cruises amongst the stars. When I found out he was seeing four other girls at the same time, oftentimes only interacting with them through virtual reality, I think I must have broken about 23 different objects before some people grabbed me and held me down.
Advanced school was pretty rough-going. It was an endless rat-race of buying the latest clothes, discovering they were out-of-fashion, buying more clothes, trying to figure out the latest slang, competing for the attention of the brightest and best-coordinated boys, trying not to fall asleep while doing water purification system design homework, passing messages in fusion reactor design class. The longest relationship I had lasted about six months. I don't want to reveal his name here, as I am not that cruel, but I think I was only able to keep him that long because of how spineless and inept he was. Don't get me wrong, he was intelligent, and the star player of the cylindrical-hockey team, but there was always something missing from him. Every time I wanted to talk about our future together, or tried to define the relationship, he just laughed it off and talked about the latest XP star to hit the mesh, or some funny things he had read on other peoples' profiles an hour ago. He would also always try to perform moves that he learned from pornographic XP, which did not enamor me or make me feel excited at all. I decided to break it off after six months, and he cried and squealed like a baby. I was having a hard time feeling any pity for him after seeing that.
Getting my B.S. in Habitat Design was not much easier. I took up the hobbies of painting and violin to cope with the sheer isolation that I felt. All of my classmates were spending most of their free time pretending to be vampires in VR, or talking about the hottest and latest XP. I gave up on trying to follow along with them, it was just too much for me. Things starting changing when, one day, while practicing violin in a park, the man who would become my husband approached me and told me how beautiful my style was. I remember how I stood up, tried to walk forward a bit, and tripped and fell flat on my face - but he helped me up. We talked about just about everything - philosophy, politics, art, religion, and even habitat design. He was a young ambitious businessman living in the Jovian Republic, visiting Mars and its surrounding habitats to close a few deals. When I showed him some images of my paintings, he insisted on seeing them in person, as that was the only true way to appreciate art. That night, he treated me to the first cooked meal I had ever had in my whole life - whole-wheat spaghetti with tomato sauce, chopped grilled garlic bits, fresh-ground black pepper, beef meatballs, and soy-bean sprouts. He even had a few scented candles made from real wax.
Alas, he had to return home the next day, but we kept in touch up until the day I graduated. I spent all the money I had saved up from my internships with various hypercorporations in order to move to the Jovian Republic and be with him forever. All the propaganda about how the Jovian Republic is oppressive is quite false - I had a fairly easy time getting a full-time job as a habitat engineer and got a starting salary double that of typical hypercorp rates. My husband and I are now happily married with two daughters and a third on the way, and we are part of a tight-knit community of dedicated families who we can trust with our lives. My name is Lex and I am a citizen of the Jovian Republic.