“Our dreams are a second life.” ~Gerard de Nerval
By Keeva Moore-Rae. Read Part I.
Did you ever hear that old Taoist story about the farmer whose horse ran away? Do you remember how every mishap in the story carried the seed for extraordinary luck, and how every lucky break the farmer caught turned itself into another unfortunate event? I’ve been reminded of it for a long time now.
About two years ago I created an avatar to explore the dark side of Second Life– the things you’d really not tell in “real” life. Yes, pole dancing, escorting, dominance and submission; all the really ugly things I could never experience in RL. And I never wanted to experience them in RL either, but I was compelled to look into that abyss. And so I created an avatar that few knew about, a pale Irish lass by the name of Keeva, as opposed to my vaguely Latina main avatar, Flor.
But I ran into trouble with my clandestine alt, Keeva, almost right away. I had no clear idea of who she was and so she became a blank sheet of white paper, for everyone to draw their fantasies on. What does a sexual submissive look like? And a high class escort– what would such a woman look like? Lots of people had things to add, things to change, some fantasy to project onto this empty screen. And because coming out as transsexual with my escort avatar was of course unthinkable, I also had a secret to protect. In RL they call it “passing”, meaning getting by without arousing suspicion. Keeva had to pass from the moment she was born. And so I had created a situation where I had no identity of my own, but was instead a fragile thing built out of half truths, quick reactions, and a maze of mirrors to catch the curious in. Unhealthy you say? Maybe, I say, just like the farmer in the story.
At some point it became too much to maintain. My main avatar had troubles, and I had no head for escorting and all that my darker side entailed. So I (Keeva) quit the escort club and holed up in a Linden home, thinking. Looking back, I felt I had invited people to walk all over me, like I wasn’t anyone important, or anyone at all. So what could I do?
I had a radical idea. Since Keeva was still an empty canvas in my mind, I could project my own ideas on it for a change. But did I have any of those? By then I had started my RL gender transition; I was wondering what I would become. I tried to visualize. And then I started remaking Keeva. I worked on a shape that would resemble what I hoped for in RL. It would have all the telltale clues that set transsexual women apart from biological ones. Keeva would have broad shoulders, narrow hips, large and very pronounced facial features, no hourglass shape, and large hands. Large feet would have completed the picture, but that doesn’t work so well. You get problems with your shoes, but that’s Second Life for you. It took me two days, and then I had it. Keeva had an identity all her own– in fact she was something very close to how I felt about myself in RL. Oh, and she was and still is beautiful! Wonderful you say? Maybe, I say, just like the farmer in the story.
Of course. once set in your ways of virtual sin you don’t tend to reform that easy. And so I (Keeva) now had a formidable sense of self, and I had, just like Flor, come out on her SL profile. So equipped, I entered a D/s roleplay sim as a highly skilled submissive, thinking of myself as a mix of courtesan and geisha with a big submissive twist. Yeah, right. You are surrounded by men with urgent needs. Their refinement went so far as to wear a suit, but that’s it. No courtship, no refinement. You wait to get whipped, get fucked, get left behind, and you repeat. Not the most uplifting experience, even if it happens on a beautiful sim.
And so I slowly faded away into privacy, returning to my wicked ways only occasionally. Not because I was a better person, but because I was just tired. And then something happened to my cherished main avatar, Flor. My worst nightmare in fact. She got hacked– someone got into my account and stole a good sum of my RL money. I was shocked, I was scared, I wondered if I would leave SL. Oh my god you say, how horrible! And I say maybe, just like the farmer in the story.
Now I had a decision to make. I had a small army of alts, but my main account was down for the count; in fact I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get her back at all (I eventually did get her back, along with the stolen money). So I felt I had to declare a new main avatar. And the decision was obvious: It would be Keeva because of her resemblance to the RL me.
Suddenly, the boundary between my real and virtual lives was dissolving. With my coming out months before, I had stopped tightly guarding my RL information. And now, some friends had my phone number, others knew my RL name, or my Skype name. Some knew biographical details, and one of my transsexual sisters met me in person.
Just as my virtual life slowly approached my real one, so my real life slowly approached my virtual one. The hormones had their effect, changing my body and my face; lasers and electrolysis killed off most of my facial hair. I set a date for my surgery, and started living as a woman in RL. And I looked to Keeva and the way in which she had handled sticky situations for inspiration. As my gender transition neared completion, it felt like I was turning into my avatar– or as if my avatar had walked out of SL and off the screen and started living in RL. And now, with the RL gender transition complete, I realize there is no divide anymore.
Almost exactly four years ago, I did the unavoidable, the unthinkable: I created a female avatar and lived as a woman in a virtual world. This experience tore up my life. I had two lives that were in open contradiction to each other. Man in RL, woman in SL, and something resembling the great wall of China between them. But in the end, imagination has prevailed and proven stronger than the “realities” of RL. The great wall between RL and SL has fallen.
I keep no more secrets, I have arrived. So you might say you’re happy for me, and I can’t keep up my Taoist poker face anymore. So finally, unlike the farmer in the story, I say “HELL YEAH!”
Go to Breaking My Silence (Part I).
SL photographs by Cat Boccaccio.