It had been a long time since I had been able to visit Second Life, more than a month! I had completely missed Cica’s exhibit called Burning (time is the fire in which we all burn), and I was determined not to miss her next one. I had an engagement to be at Sophia’s and Amanda’s wedding at Elysium that very day, and I still had to go shopping for a dress, but when I logged on and saw that Cica had a new exhibit called “Fade Away,” I knew I could not pass it up. I would have to rush a little bit to find a dress and get ready, but I did not want to miss this build. Real Life work, struggles, joys, and commitments had been so pressing, I had not even had the time to change my SL outfit in over a month, so I teleported on over in my simple black shirt and leggings and no other adornments other than my red kitty shoes and the dragonfly wings which my SL daughter Amanda had given me.
With the familiar whoosh of teleportation, I landed at Cica’s new build. At first it seemed similar to something I had seen before. Cica had done a groundbreaking exhibit called “Black and White World” long before I had ever joined Second Life. I had never had the chance to visit, but I had been lucky to visit a subsequent black and white world of hers in Dreamers which had some similar elements. There were graceful undulating flowers, and a simple boxed house of sketched straight lines. A stick-figure boy offered a flower plaintively to a shy Stick-figure girl. The lines were clear, bold, black, and set against a ground and sky of pure white. I sensed a certainty of place and being.
“Fade Away” turned out to share, however, only the lack of color with Cica’s earlier black and white worlds. My black outfit blended in, but my red shoes were a blazing intrusion. Instead of a blazing white sky, here I was surrounded by a particulate heaviness. Cica often gives us dilapidated (bombed out?) buildings open to both air and exploration and this was also the case here. These buildings had a recently lived in and hurriedly abandoned feel to them. Televisions and other vestiges of life lay broken and strewn about, mingling into the gray dust of the floor. Nature offered no solace. The nearly bare trees screamed with hungry black eyes and ghoulish open mouths. They looked as if they were chasing me – grasping with upstretched limbs that tilted strangely between ground and sky. There was no sure footing, there were no clear lines, and the sharp black and whites of her prior colorless world had faded to a surrounding gray.
There were inhabitants. Giant sloping figures shuffled with a fixed eyeless gaze at the ground or the mid-horizon. As I got closer to these people, I nervously noticed that I could see the buildings and the trees and the other people through their legs and bodies. They were translucent, but had not yet abandoned the excrudescence of their slipping lives. They were fading away.
A remembrance of Fade Away can be found at the following link:
Other than my red shoes, the only other bit of color in this place was a large pole that emitted what my sometime faulty memory recalls to be an alternating red and blue pulse of light coupled with a quiet background electrical hum. I felt drawn to walk into this pole, but was restrained by a certain disquiet. I had the strange feeling that if I entered it, I would also begin to fade and meld with the inhabitants of this realm into the insubstantial air. Now that would have been a lovely and slightly terrifying bit of scripting magic, but I had a sense that if anyone could pull that off, Cica – a skilled builder of machinama- might be able to do so. I pictured myself standing at my SL daughters’ wedding in only a few hours in my gorgeous new dress, happy for their union, and fading-fading-fading away. I really thought that might be possible (I still have a certain amount of residual noobie paranoia). I checked the land and saw that “no damage” was checked, but still had my doubts. I continued to feel drawn, nevertheless, toward this strange light. I did a few dance steps to nervously twirl my dragonfly wings, reflected wryly about a mosquito’s thought process as it approaches a glowing bug zapper, and walked straight ahead into the lone spot of color. As I entered the pole, it lost it’s colorful pulse, assuming the monochrome of its surroundings, and I did not appear to change at all. I walked slowly around the sim for a few minutes, making only a cursory examination since I planned on returning later. Soon I was joining in Sophia’s and Amanda’s festivities, giving them well wishes, hugs and heartfelt reflections. The joyful dances, tears, and laughter were actually more vivid and alive for me because of what I had just experienced at Fade Away. I felt like I had dared something in those quiet steps even though they appeared to have had no outward consequence. I am sad to say that I never made it back to Fade Away before it closed. I am sure this was a deeply personal work by Cica, and I can only speculate on its meanings and symbolism for her. But I can know for sure that being there, even just once, changed me. She drew me in. I haven’t disappeared yet, I am still here, with no discernible outward metamorphosis. But something was different after I had visited this place. I am still not sure if I experienced something lost or something gained, but something somewhere inside me had changed.
Dream of Lona (Violence Advisory)
Man-self: I dreamed I was in the house I lived in when I was five years old, but I was all grown up, a mature and capable man. The front doorbell rang and I answered it to find a beautiful woman on the doorstep, wispy brown hair and dark laughing eyes. She was wearing a black leather jacket and jeans. I recognized myself there.
Woman-self: “I am coming in,” I said… and moved to walk across the threshold.
Man-self: “You can’t,” I said crisply, and a slow anger rose in my chest. “You can’t come in, my wife and my family are here, you can’t come in.”
Woman-self: “You still don’t get it,” I said, “I am coming in.” I pushed forcefully to open the door my other self had started to close. I was then grabbed by the wrist with his surprisingly iron grasp, but I pushed back strongly putting my foot in the door and pushing my other self backwards a few steps.
Man-self: Now I felt enraged and was shouting. “You can’t come in! Get out of here!” I lashed violently at me with my fists and watched my face recoil under the force.
Woman-self: In response I just lifted my face and gazed back at myself in surprised pain, but I pushed forward again, this time silently. I was both angry and terrified. I was determined to come in, even if it were to drive away all that I loved, my wife, my parents, my kids.
Man-self: I unloaded. My fists hit my stomach, and face. I grabbed my other self by the wrist and twirled her backward off of the porch. A bright red stream of blood blazed like an intrusion on my eyes against a stark white face. I watched mascara bleed downward as tears flowed.
Woman-self: Now I was on the ground crouched helplessly in a protective turtle shell position..,
Man-self: …but I did not stop.
Woman-self: Blows fell down like torrents on my back and on my shoulders.
Man-self: I started to feel a terrifying victory rise up in me, but each blow surprised and shocked me. I had never hit a girl in my life, and had never been in any fistfight since some ill advised misadventures when I was 12. I felt an ugly doom rise out from the area of my stomach, this is not who I was, I didn’t hit people I healed people. “You can’t come in!” I shouted. I stopped with the fists, but kicked my victim soundly in the gut. As I did so, my female self floated strangely upward and gazed back at me silent and defeated with sloping shoulders. I clapped my hands downward on those shoulders, pushed the wrist into the small of the back, and marched violently, both of us now sobbing, to the curb where a police car waited.
Woman-self: Somehow I was now handcuffed. My other self just watched as I lifted bound hands to my face to try to staunch the bleeding.
Man-self: I pushed my captive now gently down to direct her into the police car, and now just whispered, “You can’t come in.”
The door closed and I watched the patrol car turn on its blue and red pulses of light and drive away leaving me alone.
Suddenly I was no longer in the yard, as the dream shifted to the bedroom of the first house my wife and I had bought. My wife stood there smiling at me, and warmly embraced me tightly and comfortably as the warmth of her skin flowed vividly through me. It felt so good to be in her arms. All of the clouds of worry that had darkened our marriage since I had come out to her were now gone from her eyes as she leaned comfortably against me. The warmth of her arms drew me in, but the ugliness of my recent violence lay like a heavy doom on my heart and lingered there as I awakened. I felt terrified at the brutality of what I had done in the dream. I had lost something real and the sweet relaxation I had felt with my wife as I awakened had faded into the insubstantial air. Something somewhere inside me had changed.
Dream of Laura Jane Grace (Language Advisory)
I had realized that I did not want to be ashamed. I did not feel any anger that my wife was so happy in the dream after I had driven my real self away. I can’t blame my wife about how I feel. She has been kind and generous and patient with me and this has all been so difficult for her. Neither of us had signed up for the crazy purple (figurative) bruises that my transgender reality has inflicted on our lives. When we married I did not purposefully mislead her, I was rather expertly misleading myself at the time. I often do wish I had been more aware of who I was when I had met her so that I could have saved her all of this stupid pain. But that means I would have missed out on being with her and the world would not have seen our beautiful children.
Playing “what if” is more like a war than a game and it never has a winner. Because I don’t want to lose the glorious blessings of wife, kids and covenants, I am still not going to undergo an outward social transition – that decision had not changed after my awful dream.
What had changed for the better that night is that now I was angry merely at myself for my violent intrinsic transphobia instead of being angry at myself for actually being who I am. I now know in my deepest heart that I am not going to be ashamed about being a transgender woman. I have the heart and Spirit of a woman in there and I am just simply going to embrace it.. All of my whole damn world might push back against me becoming who I really am, but I have resolved now that I, MY VERY SELF, am not going to tear myself apart. I don’t want to be the type of person who hates herself, because all in all, I really am a pretty great person and daughter of God (even though it appears I am destined to spend my mortal years play-acting the role of a son). Oh well, if that’s the way you want it Lord, you got it. The words of the great warrior-punk musician Laura Jane Grace and the band Against Me! perfectly reflect how I felt in the days after I had awakened from this dream. The language is strong and profane, but it brings tears to my eyes, and there seems no other way to quite say it…
I don’t ever want to talk that way again,
I don’t want to know people like that anymore.
As if there was an obligation,
As if I owed you something.
Black me out!
I want to piss on the walls of your house,
I want to chop those brass rings off your fat f***ing fingers.
As if you were a kingmaker.
Black me out.
I don’t want to see the world that way anymore,
I don’t want to feel that weak and insecure,
As if you were my f***ing pimp,
As if I were your f***ing whore.
Black me out
I want to piss on the walls of your house,
I want to chop those brass rings off your fat f***ing fingers.
As if you were a kingmaker.
As if, As if, As if!
Black me out…
I am a little different. I am not hearing this song primarily to aim it at the world around me, I am singing it to myself. No more self inflicted brass knuckle poundings on my heart. NO MORE! Before you can really love others, you first have to love yourself (is that really true? I think it is). But sometimes I feel like there are no others.., that there is no one else in this world who can see or feel or know what it is to be me as a real human being. If they knew who I am, what would they see? Would it be like in another song from Laura Jane: “All they see is a faggot, they hold their breath not to catch the sick…” It may occur someday that I will be the only one of lasting importance in my life who knows and cares how it is in here in my woman’s heart. (Well, Ok God, okay, if that is how you want it… ok). But if that were the case, how even much more important it is then to love, accept, and embrace who I am. I want to black out the violent intrinsic transphobe. I want to let the beautiful person I really am be able to look herself in the mirror and smile and feel alive and not have to fade away.
For the full song “Black me out” click the following link:
Postscript: I just might be an idiot. I have come across a lovely blog on Fade Away that mentions that Cica did have a trap in there that would make your avatar fade away for a short period. The pole I suspected to be a trap was not a trap, but I was right in suspecting her of such capability and verve. I am sad that I was not able to get back in time to experience the full force of this powerful work. For a link to that blogpost:
Sigh… Lesson learned but still not operationalized. 😉
Addendum #2. 7-8-2019.
I have changed since I wrote this. I need to be in the world. I need to live. I need to more fully be who I am, physically, emotionally, socially. I will not fade away. An updated version of the “what if game” might be found in my post entitled I Am Worried about Jessica.
All rights reserved for text to Lona Gynt, July 2017. Except (obviously) the excerpts from the Against Me! songs – no infringement is intended.