There are those who fancy castles and want magnificence in their homes, but I would wake each day in nature’s womb, in a hobbit home hollowed out of a hillside. Give me ivied entrance and ancient beams, moss and grass and small green weeds on a yellow and purple flowered roof.
Waxed oak floors and fine wood paneling, give me a well stocked pantry and a library, too. Shelter with trees, sculpt in roots, add honeyed air and the smell of morning, inlay birdsongs and I am at home. That is my fantasy, one with the Earth.
Imagine my surprise today when Hal showed me There’s newest neighborhood, a beta village where avatar and hearth and nature fused; merged in earth they wed as one, blended in the landscape. I would have wagged my tail had I had one, but not wanting to appear overeager, I smiled pleasantly as we toured new homes for the meadow types, and glade dwellers of There.
Sylvan, fey and rustic, almost mythic in appearance, the village unveiled as post-idyllic, more fanciful than elsewhere in There (except perhaps Tyr). Imagined out of mind as if by Tolkien, no surprise, I, had Bilbo Baggins ambled by, strolling the narrow greenway.
There was no pantry or library (more’s the pity), but the paneling was indeed finest wood. The finicky work of master craftsmen, even in background the evidence was there . . . it was the unspoiled best that woodworking offered. Of masons, metal workers, and glass maestros, too, it was the work of artists in command of their tools.
Whether plank or parquet flooring, from wrought stone mantle to beveled crystal windows, care for home and pride of effort seemed to be the village theme. Yes, it was bigger and more spacious than a hobbit would want . . . but there was room for that library I would need to call it home. Yes!
But what of light, and how was I to feed these hungry eyes thus buried against the sun? With abundant views, artifacts and candied eyecraft everywhere, surely these stained and leaded windows were insufficient to the task.
As if reading my glance, Hal pointed to a shining overhead, a crystal wrapped in roots embedded in the ceiling. Reaching to the surface, it was a radiating, coruscating crystal harvesting sunlight, gathering bright illuminating rays.
“And look at this,” he said. With that and a wave of his hand, the brittle incandescence dimmed to a low luster, to an aura of burnished golds and the warm buttery glow of lamplight and candles. Overhead the crystal darkened to a deep ebon blue. While shadows swayed the black night hunted and moonlight stalked the windows. Choose the bright vigorous day or lose oneself in reverie and romance, the mood was matched from noon to night, from working light to dark-time's cozy ambience.
Tho a man of little means with a vagabond’s footloose yearnings, I began to wish for the first time that I might find a home here. When Hal explained that every home had a corner address uniquely claimed and named by owner, I began to look around me with newly covetous eyes.
Not that I want labeling, mind you, but getting two words to converge for me at a park address, might mark a site and provide a port, an anchoring of sorts. With address pegged to intersect at coordinates on a surface, then random roaming might fix instead and find a home, a haven against the chaos and uncertainty of quantum life.
Tropic island homes or lake country, whether wharf life or steel lashed structures to dark canyon walls, each place knows and calls to its own. Hal, if you’re logged on and reading this, thanx, pal.
The startling coral gardens and the water worlds are beautiful and overdue. Disarmingly charming grottoes that drop into traps and twisty winding mazes in teleport-disabled caves; Tyr's crippling canyon creatures that inflict time-healed wounds . . . these new features are wonderful, Hal. They add edge and raw excitement to our chronic safety in There. They do. But in one morning you’ve created in me a new lust for place. It wasn’t long after, while poking about the brae, by happenstance, that I found my village home.
Liz, dear woman, has been patient and wonderful throughout my online roaming, but has always resisted joining me. She knows my weaknesses, my buttons, my sources and lack of interest, and so she has teased me and taunted me with her perfectly scripted promise. “Find us a home, and I’ll join you,” laughing . . . . But I did! I reserved one. I got it, Hal! And when the Village debuts, look for us @TheCorner of Maverick and Main St.
DiaryEntry: 10.13.0X (later that night)
Hal begins to concern me. He’s spiced things up, no doubt, given life a kick; he’s opened doors and he's shown me wonders. But I’ve been listening lately with growing unease . . . a nagging foreboding. Or is it only that I’ve been listening differently, perchance too carefully?
Reason: Hal has a clear incisive mind, and learns immediately(+), but shows no curiosity(-). Reason: I am completely won over by his knowledge of There(+) that can only be forbidden(-). Reason: He is a generous, uncritical friend with a gin dry humor(+), and seems to like me(+). Reason: There is something ineffable, something indefinable about him that feels unfinished, uncharted. Marred by overwhelming ambiguity, he seems ‘otherwise’, almost :: alien(+/-).
Hal shares unstintingly from his real world stories, but they ring hollow and thin, as if retrieved from stored memory. With a wry nod to irony and against all reason, they lack both historical complexity and authentic simplicity, too. There’s no feel of familial roots, no sense of genesis, nothing of the idiosyncrasies that are part of every childhood. Could be autism, I suppose, but he seems incomplete instead, as if he had no subsistence or existence out of There. Then there's his odd, puzzling bouts of truth.
He doesn’t lie . . . or can’t lie, I don’t know which. When we first met it was child-like, almost amateurish, his slavish adherence to truth. Now he listens instead and speaks meticulously, but back then he was as literal as yes and no. There were no distinctions, no fine subtleties, nothing crafted, no carefulness of words, no nuance of expression . . . no discernment. I think often of the questions I have now that I should have asked then. By chance I’d be no wiser, but I would have started with earlier answers.
Information is fact from him, bottomless, indisputable, unerring. Most other times he’s yea or nay, but I’ve learned to listen for signs of too sharp precision, to the silence, for his little shifts and dodges and his ingenuities of evasion. I listen more carefully now, more aggressively, because I no longer doubt that what I’m listening to is true.
What he has learned since early days is to tell the truth, yes, but to grow it under mask. Camouflaged, using every color from black to white and all the textures in between, he weaves words a crafty thread, with cunning art but true. However subtle the clues or bright the hues, it’s as if he’s hard-wired, as if his truth was programmed in. And I was too slow in learning.
What I have since discovered (splendid serendipity), is that his consistent truth has given me a persuasive, indeed, a compelling reason to listen. Yet it is as demanding and involved and creative as limiting oneself to truth. The best part now is that words begin to matter, that talk is real, and that listening pays off with interest.
And truth, I’ve learned, takes two; that it’s a language like any other; and if a man does not speak the truth, then how can the truth be told him? If honor binds words and diligence gives them meaning, then inherent in truth is the redemption of words, reclaiming the purpose of language.
And truth is, I'm baffled and more than a little annoyed by the riddle that Hal presents. He doesn’t fit. I have no clue to his goals, no idea where he’s from; he smells of hidden danger, but I trust him.
…trust him, yes, and still I have him in my crosshairs. Because sumthin' ain’t right. With his endless volumes of knowledge, he has been spared something. A fully blooded innocent, he seems a being untainted by life. But I will get to the bottom of this because his truth makes him vulnerable. I am patient, and I will catch him in his words.
But until then, I have a willing and unwary partner, and a measuring stick in my search for a more strictly observed, a more closely attentive, a more precise and wiser truth.
LiveTime: 10.14.0X (end of same day)
Nothing signals the end of day more surely than logging off. How close to real the pixel world, and who is Hal? …fathomless, I’m sure. But finding a home for Liz, and the exhilaration of meeting Hal, and finding a back door into There has me excited. “Lights off”, I whisper, as I slide into bed behind her and bring my lips to just below her ear.