Bunny Rabbit (that's what I call Song Clanger) has a term for it -- Vanishing Avatar Syndrome. He said it's "a common affliction." He should know; he has gone through many romances in SL.

He surmises that people disappear when the affair gets too "real" and it "becomes too much for people and, rather than confront, they just fade away." For whatever reason. Too much emotion, complications of taking it out of SL, existing real life relationships.

"SL is life times 500," the bunny explains. "Everything is amped up. Expectations through the roof."

I understood. Somehow, we expect more, precisely because it is a fantasy. We're used to being in control of our own fantasies; we can have anything we want in our fantasies. But we forget that, just like real life, this shared fantasy has its own limitations because the people who build it and participate in it are only human. Humans with their own limitations, with their own expectations, with their own fantasies.

When someone in our Second Life doesn't follow the script of our own fantasy, we panic. The panic manifests in different ways for different people. For me, it's in hiding my identity from a man I learned to love so much that I toyed with the idea of being with him in real life. Perhaps, for January lover, it's in pulling back, distancing himself, fading away.

I told Bunny Rabbit that I wished I had this talk with him months ago. He asks, "Why? How would anything be different? Nobody listens!" :-D

Well, I suppose he's right. I am a stubborn one.

October chill

These past few days have been a blast in the past. January lover reminds me of September lover in his absence. November pings me to renew the friendship, which, I think, is very sweet but I am cautious. And October IMs me out of the blue just to say my blog has gotten dull.

It is October's comment that stimulates my gray cells.

This is the second time he had insulted me after we broke up. And the first time was about something I wrote in this blog too. I don't understand why he tortures himself by continuing to read my blog. It takes effort to bring up my blog and to read it. It takes effort to log into SL and send me an IM about how dull my blog has gotten. Is my blog so potent that it has become addictive?

My blog recollects my life in SL. If my blog has become dull, is he implying that my Second Life has become dull? They say that we see the world through the filter of our own experiences and that we hate in other people what we hate most about ourselves. Could it be that his comment reflects more about his own life than it does mine?

I once heard someone say that constructive criticism is a gift, but I can't really categorize this comment as constructive. But I am grateful that he has given my brain something to chew on. After all, I needed something to perk up my dull life. ;-)

(Yes, I know, I should just mute him.)

Serendipity in SL

I met Martin at Old Salt's Pub last November. I hadn't seen him again until today at a live performance in Menorca. While I was chatting with him, Rokke joined me at the table I was sitting at and said hi. So I was juggling two IMs and checking out Rokke's profile at the same time.

Well, it turned out that Rokke is an Italian musician. And, as I asked him about it, Martin mentioned in the other IM window that his friend Nyna, who owns the Dragon Moon, is looking for good musicians who might be interested in performing there and he's helping her do that.

Well, to make a long story short, I created a conference and introduced the two of them. And, by the end of the conversation, Martin had forwarded Rokke's name to Nyna.

How's that for synchronicity?

Charlie's clueless angel

Squeak was bored.

So he pinged me to join him for an adventure. Reluctantly, I returned the Hawaiian skirt I was working on back into my inventory. I must admit I was a bit curious about this adventure.

So, he tp'd me and we rode on his helicopter -- him sitting in the lone seat inside, me sitting atop the rotor with the blades chopping my legs off below my knees. I had no idea where we were going. Then, Squeak started talking gibberish...

Squeak: *radio talks*
Squeak: "kachiiiiizssshshhshhhhhhhh"
Opal: Huh? Was that a sneeze?
Squeak: "any----- kashiiiiishaaaahhhhhashiiish------body there?!"
Squeak sees an oil rig up ahead that the signal is coming from.

Meanwhile, I tried to sit on the tail, since the idea of losing my legs kinda bothered me. But the copter wouldn't let me.

So, we landed on the oil rig, which I've visited a long time ago during my first month in SL, when I picked up a freebie tako off of a buoy nearby. The buoy is unfortunately no longer there.

Squeak: kk theres an oil rig
Squeak: where the signal is coming from
Opal: What signal?
Squeak: history.....

I was still clueless.

Squeak: "kachiiiiizssshshhshhhhhhhh"
Squeak: this is where the signal was coming from
Opal: What signal is it?
Squeak: ((distress signal))
Opal: So, how do you get the distress signal?
Squeak: i made it up....

That's when it dawned on me that we were roleplaying. But Squeak kinda neglected to tell me that at the start. He finally said, "it's a mystery RP, now try your best to come up with some good stuff." Geez, I had to be creative on demand too.

He gave me a gun and told me to go into mouselook, but mouselook made me dizzy. (I said "dizzy", not "ditzy".) So we explored the oil rig platform. We found an office in the lower deck. It had a map on the wall with blinking lights, a red one and a green one. And we couldn't figure out what it was for, but the map looked like the northern half of the mainland.

Meanwhile, there were whispers from SLRR Control East with strange names and numbers, followed by seconds. Then I saw the name of a sim that I had been to before. Aha! It's the railroad and the whispers are the location of the train. I solved the mystery!

But, apparently, that wasn't the mystery we were trying to solve.... :-\

Squeak: hm this must be the room where the signal was sent
Opal: Well, there's this old-fashioned radio.
Squeak: over here
Opal: That's a server rack!
Squeak: we are RPing...
Squeak: lets just say its a radio

I'm pretty sure Squeak was getting frustrated with me at this point. :-D Then we moved on to a different room and found a place where some boxes landed.

Squeak: i wonder what are in these boxes....
Squeak looks inside
Opal: Can't see.
Opal: Oooh, they're coming out of that chute.
Squeak: opal cmon we are RPing
Squeak: try to go along with the story
Squeak: lol
Opal: I am!
Opal: I'm solving the mystery!

Well, I finally got the hang of it and came up with a good story.

Squeak: !!!
Squeak finds metal pieces in one of the boxes
Squeak finds some type of container that says....
Opal: You think they're smuggled goods?
Opal: Yup, smuggled uranium.
Opal: There's a cartel that's responsible for all uranium smuggled in this part of the world.
Opal: One of our agents lost his cover and was assassinated by the cartel.
Opal: He was undercover in the operation.
Squeak: hm
Opal: Maybe the signal came from the second agent.
Squeak: there are radioactive waves in the area
Opal: She's still undercover inside the cartel.
Squeak: looks like more are coming

Opal: We have to go then.
Opal: Before we start glowing in the dark.
Opal: Am going outside to see where it's coming from.
Squeak: we need to find where the cartel is, there has to be something here

Well, after looking around some more, Squeak said we had all the info we needed, but the chopper exploded and I couldn't rez my tako, so we had to walk underwater back to land. (For some reason, Squeak didn't think we should be flying.) But before we got to the shore, Squeak disappeared.... Reality interrupted.

So, the mystery remains unsolved. But, at least, I finally got a clue. Figuratively speaking.

Look What Love Has Done

Where once each breath was just a sigh of aching emptiness;
Where once I hardly felt the beating in my chest.
Now each breath feels like a precious kiss of life;
Now inside me beat the wings of a thousand butterflies.

Look what love has done to me;
Look what love has done.
This must be how it's meant to be.
Look what love has done.
And my heart is dancing through each day;
My soul is running free.
Look what love has done to me.*

* Jaci Velasquez (1998) Written by Rob Mathes, Stephanie Lewis

Is it possible to virtually love someone so much that it spills out into RL? Nothing has changed and yet there's a subtle difference in the world. The sun is brighter, the air is clearer, everything looks crisper, colors are more intense, music is sweeter. This affair has had an incredible effect irl that even my family and my friends noticed a difference in me.

Everything goes so well. There's wanting to preserve what we have for as long as we can. And there's wanting more, yearning more. So we inch closer and closer to the line that separates SL from RL.

(Although, my friend Anna disagrees. She says that I'm not *inching closer* to the line. She claims that, in fact, I've drawn a line and already crossed it, then drawn another line, crossed that, drawn yet another line, .... It sucks when your friends tell it like it is and you know they're right.)

My fear is that, if we cross over to real life and the veil is lifted, then the spell breaks, the innocence is lost, and the fantasy fades. Going into RL is a great risk -- double or nothing. Either you get a great romance in both SL and RL, or you lose what you already have.

And the odds are against you. Many have told me of stories of people who took SL relationships out irl. The "happily ever after" never happens outside fairy tales. And SL is a fairy tale.

On the other hand, how long can I live locked up in an emotional tower? January lover and I have so much in common and we are so often in sync that it feels like I'm interacting with my own reflection. The odds of me meeting someone like him again are miniscule. If we keep it platonic, will we always wonder "what if ...?"

Maybe the trick is to figure out which odds are better -- making an SL affair work irl or finding someone like him irl. And then maybe I should take December's lesson: jump in, take the risk, and carpe diem. Then, at the very least, I could say that I met life head-on, that I chose to truly live, instead of simply allowing life to happen.

On the other hand, ...

Should auld lovers be forgot?

I told him that all he had to do to be my January lover was to kiss me at midnight on New Year's Eve. Heck, I even had the mistletoe! All he had to do was show up!

The funny thing was that, during our first week together, I had a premonition that December lover would disappear into oblivion, just like September lover did.

So, there I was on New Year's Eve at the Blue Note, where we agreed to meet. And I waited. Up til the countdown started, down to the moment the clock struck midnight. December lover was nowhere in sight. My evening gown would have turned back into rags and my teleporter would have turned back into a pumpkin, had it not been for a knight in shining armor -- er, in a spiffy tux -- whom I had just met and who, upon realizing I've been stood up, rescued me with a "/kiss Opal".

Before I even met December lover, I promised myself that the man who kisses me at midnight on New Year's Eve would be my January lover. When I told my knight of that promise, he was pleasantly surprised and said he was honored. How sweet is that?

I guess this is a new record for me -- taking on a new lover soon after I met him. If SL was fast for me in the past, it'd just gone even faster in the new year. But it couldn't be helped. If I can't keep a promise to myself, how can I keep a promise to anyone else?

The fifth lover in the fifth month. I guess I haven't broken the curse yet.