Yeah, because we’re so totally normal

Emma Collins

Hey, y’all, how’s it going? It’s Saturday morning for you. I’m writing this in the bubble, trying to be social instead of squirreling away in my room like we mostly do when we want to write something. It’s weird to look out the window at the sun and think that’s the same sun that’s shining down on brunches in Brooklyn, on playgrounds in Cleveland, on beaches in San Diego. It’s also incrementally baking the human race alive, so…six of one, half a dozen of the other, I guess.

The funniest thing I read this week was a community post on Five Years arguing that we’re the first crew of truly “normal” people going to Mars. “Ironically, this specialized crew of writers are the first people I can really relate to. Maybe it’s just because they can express themselves, but they seem like a nice change from the square-jawed space heroes and noble, boring educators who usually get shipped off.”

Yeah, we’re normal, I guess. For sure the most different thing about us, compared to you back on Earth, is just that we’re here. Here’s some more irony, though: “normal” was never anything that any of us, I think, was ever called back on Earth. We had to board an inflatable spaceship to Mars to start seeming like, whatever, just normal folks.

Now that we’re here, we do everything we can to try to make our lives seem normal—like, Earth-normal. We have movie nights and snack on these salty chips that are the closest thing to popcorn we can make. We have what Rona calls “family dinners.” We make artificial nights and artificial days.

One reason I decided to go to Mars is that it seemed like when I lived on Earth, I was really just living on the Internet anyway. It seemed like the most important people in my life were my Internet friends—and you are, you are you are, but the longer we’re up here, the more I realize that I had a life on Earth too.

I still have my Internet life, and now I’ll have a new life on another planet—which is thrilling, and what I thought I always wanted—but I find myself thinking back on stupid things that I’ll never have again. Things like brunch on a patio, like having a whole house to myself, like losing myself in a crowd of people who don’t know who I am. Like bowling at a grotty old bowling alley, with shoes full of fungus and drinks that are weak but it’s all okay because you have someone to kiss.

I’ll have someone to kiss again, I know. Maybe someday my life on Earth will seem like a relationship that you don’t think you could ever live without until suddenly you realize that you can, and in fact you’re better off. Maybe someday I’ll look back on it like high school: so important at the time because it was all you knew, but in the grand scheme of things, really just a passing phase of your life.

The phase of my life that took place on Earth has passed, and I think I’ll get over it. Right now, though, I miss it. I want to hug it to me like a pillow wrapped in a t-shirt from a homecoming game that was lost years ago.

Unreality House is on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.

Photo by Ginny (Creative Commons)

In my defense

Emma Collins

I knew it would be like this. I’m the crazy fangirl. Because I can list all of Linnea Barnes’s 38 lovers offhand, I “don’t have a life.” Because I have opinions about autogen anime, I’ve lost touch with reality—but you’d still be happy to be stuck on a spaceship with me, because you find me physically attractive.

I have my own fantasies, yes—and one of the reasons for that is so I don’t need to be yours. I know what I want, and what I want is a complete set of Ding-Ding mysteries in hard copy. (I left them with my parents.) More importantly, what I want is friends—Internet friends, yes—who respect that, and respect me. If you respected me, you wouldn’t treat me like a slot machine, pulling my levers to see if I pay out.

I’m way over paying attention to trolls, but this isn’t about the active trolls—the ones who try to get my goat. This is about the passive trolls, the ones who comment publicly about me and simply don’t care whether I see or not. Don’t you understand that you’re just as bad? You’re worse, in a sense, because you’re not even pretending to engage me in a dialogue. You’re just talking trash about me, and you don’t care who hears, even if it’s me.

I’m flying away from all of you at a speed I can’t even comprehend, really, sealed up in my little chamber here, but you’ll always be with me. If I thought I couldn’t continue my online life as I settled on Mars, I wouldn’t be going. I need it way more than I need an IRL life on Earth, and you know that—or you should know that—and yet you comment about me as though being physically far away (and kind of famous now, I guess) makes me blind and deaf to you.

I’m scared. Of course, I was scared to be on Earth too, but at least there—at least, in the moment, from hour to hour and day to day—it’s possible to imagine that nothing will ever change. I was a frog in a frying pan, and the heat was turning up so slowly that I couldn’t feel myself fry. I can feel this—feel the weightlessness, feel the cold, feel the isolation.

There are five other people with me, yes, but it’s like having a shelf of five thick books: they feel infinite until you spend some time with them. I’m not saying that my shipmates are boring, I’m saying that they’re finite. So am I, and so are all of you, but I’ve spent my whole life among billions of you.

I need you—I need all of you—to keep my grip on reality here, okay? You’re all part of my universe, more important than you’ve ever been. Every like, every comment, every follow, it’s all meaningful. When I check back and see I have a few thousand notes, that reminds me that life is going on, and that I’m still a part of it.

I know a lot of you are jealous, and I’m not telling you not to be. I’m just asking you to please be compassionate. If this wasn’t me out here, it would be someone else. Would you rather it be someone else?

Don’t answer that.

Unreality House is on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.

As the balloon lifts

Emma Collins

I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I can’t stop this thing!

I’ll miss you, Luna! Do be good to your backers. Press yourself to tell new stories every day! Don’t resort to custom nudes. They’re against the terms of service, anyway.

Goodbye, Chank! Always remember, you’re better than the commenters say you are—even if not by much!

Farewell, Lily! I pray that James comes to terms with your new swingers’ lifestyle. It’s the right choice for you! It’s the right choice for yoooouuuuuu!

Oh, Will! You keep being your sweet self! Tell that possessive bitch that your Internet friends have been telling you to dump her ass for years, and that if it’s us or her, you choose us! You do, don’t you? Oh, please say you do!

LucyG00se! Oh, G00sey! I know things haven’t always been easy between us. We never could decide whether Daneel or Giskard would be on top, but darling, Earth had room enough for both of us, and now it doesn’t have to! Please let’s bury the hatchet! And yes, yes, oh, yes, that is a euphemism, my love!

Clay…sweet Clay! I’ll never forget when we met IRL and we spent all night together, watching other people’s lava lamps and talking about our hopes and dreams. We knew by sunrise, I think, that you would become my next publisher—and my most successful one at that! If it hadn’t been for the New Heidi Chronicles, why, I don’t think I’d be here, flying away from you at a ten miles a second! Oh, the irony! Little Longstocking is weeping into her braids, and I’m weeping into a vacuum!

Goodbye, Baroness. I feel I can hardly see you any more, we’re getting so high up. Can you hear me? Can you trust that I love you? I know you’re there, and I know you—know you better than any of the beings who surround you, down there on the dirty blue planet. You’ve let me in, and I hope that distance won’t change our relationship. I’m only now understanding that somehow, I always thought we’d come together in some room somewhere—come together and hug, maybe even spoon. I fear that the removal of that possibility will change things, and I don’t know why. We’ve never needed that before. Talk to me, my lady. I’ll be listening.

Maggie! Send dick pics! No one draws Coriander’s throbbing member with such precise, affectionate detail as you, Mags. Without you, I feel, he wouldn’t really have a penis at all—and then what would Brussels do? He’d be bereft, simply bereft.

All of you—goodbye, goodbye! I don’t know how to work this thing, and can only hope it catches a fair wind! I’m carrying all of you with me in my pocket, and I’ve already wept over that pocket. Look for me in the places you’ve always found me, and I promise, I promise, I will be there. I’m here for all the world, but I’m there for you. Please come to see me, and when I knock, please let me in. I need you all now, more than ever.

Unreality House is on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.