What is this place?

Ever had one of those panicky, middle-of-the-night awakenings? The sort where, for no apparent reason, you’re suddenly wide-awake, sat bolt upright in bed and have absolutely no idea where you are.

It’s something that rarely happens to me, so when it does, it’s all the more perplexing. Recently, i woke at around 4.00am, without a clue where i was; i didn’t recognise any of the familiar things in my room and it was a good few moments before i realised that i was at home in my own bed, just the same as always, and that i hadn’t been unceremoniously abducted by aliens during the night.

It brought to mind the many occasions that sl decides us to dump us into a completely alien landscape that resolutely refuses to resolve itself into anything recognisable, until you’ve become utterly confused. Many a time, i’ve TP’d somewhere, only to arrive in a grey and obfusticating place, filled with flat sheets of grey, jammed together at crazy angles and bulbous spheroids, again as grey as a wet afternoon in Knott End. (Which, i’m reliably informed, is the last place that God created before knocking off for the weekend – presumably constructed from all the leftover scraps he didn’t want to chuck in the bin, after creating all the good stuff).

The trouble with landing in such a place isn’t so much that nothing we see resembles anything remotely recognisable – the problem is vanity. It’s vanity that insists that we don’t allow ourselves to look stupid – so, rather than do the sensible thing and stand stock-still until the blobs become trees and the flat expanses of grey reveal themselves as buildings, we strike out in faux confidence, only to find that the objects we thought were phantom are completely solid and the things we avoided walking into so studiously are mere wisps of nothingness. Eventually, having become inextricably stuck and unable to work out any sort of escape, the world around us begins to rez; to reveal us wedged in a corner, whilst everyone else watches us, sniggering to themselves over our predicament.

Just as annoying are the places that we arrive at, only to find them completely missing. Faced with a flat, green plain our first thought is, “Dammit! Another Sim vanished off the Grid”, but further inspection reveals that we’re exactly where we planned to be – it’s just that nothing has had the graciousness to show itself yet. In the distance, we see a lone dancer or shopper in the classic ‘editing my outfit’ pose – somewhere out there we know there’s a substantial building, but where the heck is it? We find out soon enough, when we walk into an invisible wall, in fact, no matter which direction we try, there appear to be walls blocking our path – we seriously begin to wonder whether the landing zone is at the bottom of a well! Slowly, as we fumble our way around blindly, bits and pieces of the world around us start to appear – although not necessarily in the order that we’d prefer them too – displays of merchandise appear before the walls they are attached to come into being; ceilings gradually form, but no floors and, rather embarrassingly, when our immediate environment decides to make an appearance, we discover that we’ve been stumbling around the window display for the last ten minutes, much to the amusement of other shoppers.

Can you imagine what it would be like if the real world followed the perverse rules of sl – most of us would never leave the house for fear of being run over by invisible cars and breaking limbs from trying to walk on non-existent floors. There’s not a lot we can do about it, of course, although perhaps a great big fluffy mattress at every landing zone, that we could lounge nonchalantly on until the world catches up with us might be helpful – at least you’d be comfortable in the knowledge that you could just lie back and take things easy, without looking a total fool. Coming to think of it, with some of the inordinately long rez times, you could even take a quick nap… although there’s always the risk you might wake up, not having a clue where you are!

s. x

It’s a void that I can’t fill
An empty space I can’t replace
With anything at all
Air Traffic – Empty Space 

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