Wednesday, June 6, 2012

always one step rewind

I have changed, I have changed
just like you, just like you

(from the loss album; walking through tall grass at Enscharys)

So, long distance relationships...They can be something of a high-wire act. While direct physical contact isn't always present, emotional contact is, and the emotional impact can be huge. There can be an incredibly layered intimacy to every word and thought exchanged.

for how long, for how long
must I wait?
I know there's something wrong

(from the loss album; balancing the ghost spires at Enscharys)

With this comes increased vulnerability, and a greater-than-average inclination towards misinterpretation. This is lessened by speaking (phone, Skype, in person) over texting, but not completely, because what even the spoken word lacks is body language and facial expressions. (And before anyone points it out--yes, I know, we live in a world of webcams, but that's not a perfect solution, either.)

your concrete heart isn't beating
and I've tried to
make it come alive

(from the loss album; bound in the burning tree at Enscharys)

Of course, what no one tells us until we're in a relationship--in person or online--is that even living day to day with a partner cannot remove all conflict, arguments or misinterpretation. Add in the factor of the loved one being so far away, and that in itself can give rise to fears, anxieties, doubts...anxious thoughts and worries that we might not ever consider for a closer partner.

no shadows, just further lights
now I'm here to rescue you...

(from the loss album; contemplation at Redemption Hill)

Push all that aside, how'ver. Those are all valid points, but what about when things go wrong? And actually, this one applies to all relationships, not just for those of us in love long-distance: these are complications that can occur for friends, acquaintances, even business partners. If we're not on the contact list when someone takes ill, or is severely injured, we may never know what--if anything--happened.

oh, I'm still alive
I'm still alive
I cannot apologize, no

(from the loss album; peering through the window in Redemption Hill)

And through the mirror darkly, we try to ascertain if the shapes we see in the distance are the distant reflections of our beloved, or our own uncertainty and doubt peering back. And sometimes, it's really, really hard to tell.

so silent, no violence
but inside my head, so loud and clear

(from the loss album; this fish at Wunderbar Haunted Mansion's seen better days)

So, how do we cope in such situations? As hours turn into days, days into weeks--if we're very unlucky, weeks into months or years...How do we divide signal from noise, in those instances? What can we do to regain our faith? How long are we willing to wait to hear word from those we haven't heard from?

you're screaming, you're screaming
covered up with a smile
I've learned to fear

(from the loss album; dancing in the haunted ballroom at Wunderbar Haunted Mansion)

There are some tried and true tips. Not all of them may work.
  • Call them. Do you have their number? Then make a brief call. If they answer, problem solved. If not...well, it sounds very callous, but you're no worse off than you were before.
  • Write them. Do you have their email address? Do you have their physical address? You might want to try those, or alternate means of contact--keeping in mind the parameters of your relationship. (This is where words like "discreet" become irritating--if no one else in their lives know you exist? Your attempt to make contact just got harder.)
  • Talk to their friends. This one's always going to be last on the list, primarily because that involves other people in your search for reconnection--people who, let's be honest, may not know you exist either. But barring other options, it's something to consider, thin thread of hope that it might be.
just sunshine and blue sky
is this all we get?
(is this all we get?)
for living here?

(from the loss album; listening to the violinist at Delicatessen)

On a personal note, that last step is where I'm at. Made even more cumbersome because I doubt my beloved's friends do know about me.'s a delicate balancing act, currently. How much information is too much? And to make matters more complicated, I have a vanishingly few friends to ask. Because in my particular case, I'm also trusting their discretion as well as mine. That doubles the anxiety level.

come fire, come fire
let it burn
and love come racing through

(from the loss album; within the gears in the Clockwork Kingdom)

I think it's going to be a few more months before I talk to anyone...but I admit, the temptation is nearly palpable. Still, knowing I could reach out (and potentially damage the trust this beloved has in me) versus not being able to reach out at all? It's a stark comfort, to be sure, but oddly comforting all the same.

Still, all that aside, it's an odd place for me to be in. I walked into Second Life with years of open relationships behind me. Immediately I fell in love with several individuals for whom privacy was paramount. I made mistakes. I didn't keep all confidences as closely as I should have, because--even with over a decade spent online--I'd never fallen for anyone whose partners didn't know about me. (This is how odd it was for me: a while back, I was involved with someone who lived near Berkeley, and he wanted to see me. I spent a joyous week with him, and his lady wife, and I met both her significant other, and two more of his sigs...and yes, this felt absolutely normal to me. It still does.)

oh, I'm still alive
I'm still alive
I cannot apologize, no

(from the loss album; spinning gears under Jubilee flags at Clockwork Kingdom)

And above all else, I have to take responsibility for my choices in this. I cannot attempt any solution blind, for the fear it will harm something that has been, up to now, a good and sustaining and wondrous thing. This is worry, yes. This is anxiety, yes. But as much as I admit to feeling those things, I cannot allow myself to be guided solely by these feelings. I must take responsibility for my actions, and accept what each day brings me, in the hopes that one day, it will bring this absent beloved back to me.

I've learned to lose
I've learned to win
I've turned my face against the wind

(from the loss album; Matrix rain in shallow water at Trinity's Dream)

I suppose the trick is, how loyal are we when we make our agreements, take our vows? When we promise what we promise to these loves so far away? I have never been the sort to flounce off after a week's inattention; it's not in me, I just can't imagine it. Nor am I thinking that this particular love is "cheating" in any sense--since, after all, I'm in a polyamorous open marriage RL, and I'm generally the same in SL, it wouldn't occur to me to restrict someone else to bonds I don't have.

I will move fast
I will move slow
take me where I have to go

(from the loss album; sitting under the rotunda at Omega Point)

Honestly, I'm more worried. Was there an accident? Did my love get injured? Did something more dire happened? I'm worrying over those possibilities, over pondering if the love we share itself has changed; mainly because this love is also not the type to hit a snag and simply flounce off in a lavender fog of drama.

oh, I'm still alive
I'm still alive
I cannot apologize, no

(from the loss album; musing on the sunset at Risk City

Ultimately, we make our own choices, we rise or fall by the strength of them. I'm not falling yet. There's time. There's hope. There's faith. But it's been three months now with no word. I fear my arms tire of reaching across the distance, and hearing nothing but the echoes of my heartbeat in return.

(Song is Lisa Miskovsky's "Still Alive", from EA's "Mirror's Edge" game. Just for fun, here's the Minecraft version of the trailer. Outfit worn on this long, strange journey today was mostly the Kami jacket from Cup of Crown [catch them soon, they're closing!] and the cage dress skirt from Stringer Mausoleum--honestly, no idea if it's available any more.)

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