The Eden into which I was reborn cannot be walked through on feet of flesh and bone.
Some will sneer and roll their eyes when I say that I live in a virtual world, but I’m hardly delusional. I also live in an ordinary city in the American Midwest, where I teach and shop and do my laundry. I am fully alive in both worlds. I’m not crazy or socially unmoored–I’m simply human, a social creature driven by collective imagination.
People can be so suspicious of uncharted virtual territories. “Here be monsters,” read their mental maps, and they warn of predators and deceivers, geeks and nutcases. When I was courting there, wandering dassie trails through fae landscapes, hand in hand with the woman who would eventually cross the border between worlds to become my spouse in the cold Midwest, people constantly warned me off. “That’s not a real place,” they hissed; “that can’t be real love.”
My heart dwelled in Second Life.
It’s very human. As soon as the media were invented, we poured our love into them and through them. Think of the poet Ovid. For the last nine years of his life, he was separated from his wife by banishment, but their love lived on in the letters they exchanged. Ovid also wrote his Metamorphoses, tales of lives and bodies transformed that themselves transformed our ideas about our human nature. Love. Creativity. Transmutation.
Virtual worlds expand the possibilities flat text has long offered. Our physical bodies may be separated but we meet there, soul to soul. We commune in spaces built from our own imaginations. We form our own bodies, undergo our own metamorphoses, and are transformed.
I built my love a garden out of pixels and what creativity I have to muster, and I tell you: I live there. I live in the Midwestern kitchen where we cook dinner together as well, but my heart is never more alive than when we dance together, weightless in the virtual skies.