You might have noticed that the Second Life avatar I’m using for photos has changed. With my SL partner Jakob offline and in the hospital, it’s uncomfortable to use the avatars that feel like “me” — my 9 year old alt and my 4 year old main Kay avatar. They feel too vulnerable. It’s unbearably sad to spend time in the virtual house that we share. I’ve managed to attend the weekly chat salon at Basilique, where my mind is engaged and distracted, but that’s about the limit of what I can do.
Now, I use an alt that I created a couple years ago but never really took out of the box, so to speak. She might as well wear a placard that says, à la Fight Club, “I am Kay’s inner rage.” Right now she’s a cyborg with an artificial leg and eye, other times she’s punk. She always has a vicious scar across one cheek. She has an arsenal of weaponry and tools of mischief. It gave me great delight last week when she was changing clothes in a room at a public sandbox, two people crowded her, and I deployed a fog machine and released wandering elephants and tigers until they moved. She doesn’t talk to anyone more than replying to an initial greeting, sometimes. She embodies my feeling of helplessness and sadness as well as the part of me that wants to blow shit up. The part of me that surges, narrow-eyed and fangs glistening, whenever I listen to “Want” by Recoil.
Walking around in this avatar helps me handle the frustration that I have no other place to release. It’s not fun and I don’t sign on daily, but it gives me a safe space to be angry and aggressively anti-social and unpleasant. I can’t carry those feelings with me every hour of the day and I need to work through them. This suits my personality more than seeking a support group and it spares my husband hours of my sulking or mourning.
Yesterday, Jakob had radiation therapy for the metastasized tumor in his brain. I have no idea what the doctors are telling him about what’s next, but let’s hope that the side effects don’t diminish his quality of life too badly. My planned trip to visit him, already booked, is in sixteen weeks.