Whisper 2.33

whisbi23112

Dear Shannon,

Can I write you? Sure I can, right? Now that I’m here, you’re there, I can write again.

Well, we’ve had a visitor! Becky came, just like we arranged at the party you threw on the day I graduated.

When she arrived, I realized that she and I don’t even know each other! We had just the one conversation, when we met at your party, before she came here.

We weren’t sure what to say to each other at first.

whisbi23003

“Good tea,” she said. “Did you grow it yourself?”

“Um, no,” I replied. “We get maybe two days of sunshine a year up here. I think tea plants need a bit more.”

Oh, Shannon. I was pretty snarky. What got into me?

whisbi23004

“It’s good, though,” Becky said.

“We didn’t grow the sugar cane, either,” I said.

whisbi23005

Then Becky started laughing.  With the ice broken, we chatted for a bit. She’s OK. I mean, I like her. I’m not sure that we have anything in common, but she’s cute, and I like the way she laughs.

She’s so rich, though! I had a hard time finding where our experiences and interests intersected. Do you know where the Venn diagram of her and me did intersect? In you. You form the beautiful shaded area that we both share: our admiration of you.

We both agreed that you’re awesome and amazing and beautiful.

whisbi23006

I headed into the garden to weed and harvest, and Becky went inside where Riley tried to entertain her.

Riley told me they watched a documentary on monarch butterflies. “It was fascinating,” Riley said. “Do you realize some monarchs migrate thousands of miles? In fact, monarchs are becoming something of an emblem for people who cross borders because each year, thousands of them fly from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest. They’re becoming endangered, though.”

Shannon, I wish you could meet Riley. You would love her!

“Did Becky enjoy the documentary?” I asked Riley.

“Oh,” she replied, “I don’t think so. She said the photography was pretty, but how many pictures of butterflies can a person take?”

whisbi23007

I was still in the garden when Becky came out.

“Looks like you’re really busy here,” she said, “I think I’ll head back.”

whisbi23008

“But you just got here!” I protested.

“Yeah, and now I’m just leaving. Thanks for having me, anyway!”

So that was my visit with Becky! She stayed all of two hours, and all we have in common is that we both belong to the Shannon Arkers fan club.

whisbi2293001

I don’t know about Becky, but I’ve got lifetime membership.

Miss you. Take care of yourself.

Love,

Marigold

<< Previous | Next >>

Aimless: AAW – Shannon Arkers

It’s Asexual Awareness Week! In celebration of this, I’m featuring four asexual Sims from stories on this blog. Our last individual profile features Shannon Arkers, who, in my game, is an aromantic asexual. She appears in the story Whisper.

If you’d like to learn more about asexuality, please visit the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, AVEN.

Author’s Note: In this post, I talk about playing and writing Whisper, so readers will find some spoilers if they haven’t yet read chapters 2.10 to 2.28.

whisbi22619

Shannon, being one of the most private Sims I’ve known, declined an interview. She said that I could write about her from my perspective, and she was happy to spend some time talking with me. Shannon’s always been a favorite Sim of mine at TS3 University. I love her rebel style.

She’s unflirty, a fitting trait for an aromantic Sim. As Shannon is currently an elder in my game, I think of her as being half a generation older than me, which means that she also came of age before asexuality was recognized as a sexual orientation. For Shannon, this wasn’t an issue.

“I need to be different,” she told me, “so every way that I don’t fit in with consumerism, capitalism, sexism, genderism, ageism, and any other ism you want to throw at me, the better.”

As a girl, Shannon wanted to join Boy Scouts, until she read the Boy Scout oath, law, and motto. “Since Boy Scouts would’ve required me to uphold values I don’t share” she said, “I decided to join Hells’ Angels instead. Then I learned about the way they use women.” At this point, still in her youth, Shannon embraced the practice of nonconformity as an individual. Rather than joining a group as a way of being different, she was different alone. “I mean, if I’m not fitting in with a group of others who aren’t fitting in, that that sort of means I’m fitting in with the misfits.”

A woman whose dharma followed individual nonconformity, personal liberation, and authenticity, Shannon relished every opportunity to do things her own way. Aromantic asexuality was simply one other aspect of this.

“Plus,” she told me, “I seriously don’t care what others think. It’s my life. Get over it.”

Observing and writing about the interactions between Marigold and Shannon fascinated me and helped me learn more about ways to express love beyond the traditional and the romantic.

Shannon is the only Sim that Marigold has rolled romantic whims for, even though they don’t have the TS3 attraction moodlet between them. Marigold is attracted to plenty of other Sims–but, so far in the game, she’s only interested in Shannon. And Shannon, while remaining asexual, has been receptive. She says that she wants to experience everything in life, and a romance was one thing she hadn’t yet experienced. “At my time of life,” she said, “I’d better do it now if I’m gonna do it at all.” Shannon also shows us that some asexuals enjoy sex.

And besides, Marigold Tea is awesome.

To me, a lot of the ways I wrote Shannon felt true: The conversation that she and Marigold had while sitting in the snow watching the stars reverberates with conversations my boyfriend has had with me. He doesn’t feel a need to say goodbye, either, especially when his affection extends beyond time.

There are so many different ways to love: some of the qualities of love that aren’t dependent on sexual attraction or romance include thoughtfulness, affection, caring, and a type of faithfulness which rests on putting the other person’s well-being and self-realization first.

That’s how Shannon’s love for Marigold felt to me.  I can’t say that I’ve ever written a more genuine-feeling love, in terms of my own experience of what deep love feels like.

Shannon would say we’re all people, each of us individuals. Treat others well. Live true to yourself. Be free.

whisbi22509

<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.25

whisbi22301

Dear me,

I’m still shaky inside. I’m hoping that writing will help me calm down. But it won’t make things right. Nothing can right what happened tonight.

The evening started so happy. Shannon called after the lecture to ask if I wanted to come to her bonfire. It had started to snow that afternoon, and the idea of a blazing fire while snowflakes fell had me feeling excited. Maybe we’d roast marshmallows or build snowmen–away from the flames, of course!

I was so excited I smiled the whole ride over.

whisbi22302

Shannon was just lighting the fire when I arrived, and the heat was already melting the snow along the slope.

whisbi22303

We played our guitars. Shannon taught me the riff to an old protest song she loved. The chord changes were challenging, and all of our attention was engaged. I loved playing with her.

whisbi22305

I kept playing the riff, and Shannon began to improvise. The snowfall, our rapt attention, the way our music combined, I didn’t think I could get happier. And how is it that the moments of extreme happiness usher in extreme danger?

whisbi22306

Corrinne’s screaming broke through our music. But by the time we reached the flames, we heard only the fire’s roar through the silence of snow.

whisbi22307

I felt Death’s shadow.

whisbi22308

So many times, I’ve seen this figure.

whisbi22309

One of the zombies that had gathered around the fire began cackling madly.

whisbi22310

She said horrible things–jokes I can’t bear to repeat, and she laughed until she grew hoarse.

whisbi22311

Corrinne’s ghost smiled.

whisbi22312

I’ll never get over the way she approached Death so gracefully, with full acceptance.

whisbi22313

Had she done this on purpose?

Then, I heard Shannon weeping.

whisbi22314

I snapped out of it as quickly as I could. Maybe that’s why I still feel so shook up, because I tried to be brave for Shannon.

“It was my fault,” Shannon was saying, over and over.

“It wasn’t,” I told her.

“It was. I shouldn’t have built the fire. I shouldn’t have added the extra logs. I should’ve stayed with Corrinne. I knew she was overtired and stressed out. She’d been wearing herself down all semester. I shouldn’t have bought the keg. Do you think she was drinking?”

I tried to comfort her as best I could. What could I say? We didn’t even know exactly how it had happened.

“It was an accident.” That was all I could think of. “It wasn’t your fault.”

whisbi22315

I stayed most the night. The cops came. There were forms to fill out. There was talk of investigations and insurance stuff and whispers that the sorority would be disbanded. Shannon sat numb on the couch through it all. Eventually, she went upstairs to sleep, and I came back to the dorm.

I keep going over it… how we were so happy, and then–tragedy.

I’ve been googling “Happiness Tragedy.” “Happiness Leads to Tragedy.” “Joy Danger.” It hasn’t helped. Or maybe a little. I’m less jumpy. But I don’t have any answers. I don’t know what I can say to Shannon tomorrow to help her feel better. I don’t know why this had to happen.

This is one of those times when I could use that quiet voice that Mom said was always there, waiting to whisper to us. But when I listen, I just hear the silence and the flames.

Hang in there,

Me

<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.23

whisbi22101

Dear me,

Jaclyn’s been writing to me. In fact, I get a letter from her nearly every day. I’m not going to ask her to stop writing. I’m not going to reply directly to her letters, either. They’re just little things: “You looked so cute concentrating in class.” “Maybe we could study together–do you think?” “You should give me a shot.” I just smile, fold them up, and put them in the back of my sock drawer.

It’s not that I’m not interested. I’ve thought she was beautiful since the first time I saw her. And she’s got a style that draws me in. The thing is, even if Shannon and I don’t have the simplest or most straightforward of relationships, I kind of want to be true to her. My mom was true to Dante even beyond the grave–she was forever faithful. And growing up, I always admired that. I think it set up an expectation in me: I want that same thing.

The other night after class, Jaclyn walked across the quad towards me. I got the feeling she might make a move.

whisbi22102

I was wondering how I’d respond if she did. I mean, I really like her, so I didn’t want to out-and-out reject her. At the same time, I was thinking of Shannon. Still, I thought, if Shannon has lost interest in me, it would be a shame to deny a chance to get to know Jaclyn on a different level.

whisbi22103

But before Jaclyn had a chance to do more than say hello, a woman approached to ask me for an autograph.

I felt so relieved!

Saved by the fan!

whisbi22104

And then, as soon as I handed her notebook back to her, I got a text from Shannon, inviting me to a party.

I was so excited–she wanted to see me! I told Jaclyn I’d catch her in class tomorrow, said goodbye to the fan, and dashed off to where I’d left my bike.

whisbi22105

When I arrived at Shannon’s, she was talking to a young guy I’d never seen before. He didn’t look like he was from around here. Maybe he’s Swiss? He was wearing lederhosen.

whisbi22106

“Is your name Franz?” I asked him.

Shannon giggled.

whisbi22107

“This is Kristoffel,” Shannon said, and she chuckled under her breath. “He’s here for his Junior Year Abroad.”

Wilkomme,” I said.

Danke,” he replied, sullenly.

Shannon was doing everything she could to keep from breaking out in laughter, and I was torn between trying to say the most ridiculous things I could think of, to see if I could get her to lose control, or to keep it together out of propriety.

My manners won out in the end.

whisbi22108

Eventually, Kristoffel wandered into the kitchen in search of beer, and Shannon and I were alone.

She seemed actually glad to see me.

“I really thought I was going to lose it there,” she said. And we both laughed.

whisbi22109

“I thought you didn’t want to see me,” I confessed. I told her everything: how I felt disappointed at our reunion, when she didn’t seem at all excited I was there. How I was hurt when she told me not to write anymore. How all the signs seemed to point to her not caring for me.

“Oh, crud,” she said. “It’s not like that at all. It’s just–Oh, man. I’m so bad at these things! I don’t know how to do this. I’ve never had something like this before. This is all so foreign to me. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

whisbi22110

She explained that when she saw me the first time, it just felt natural to her–like this was where I belonged. So why make a big deal of it? And then, why write? When I’m here, and we can talk, why bother writing?

I really tried to see her perspective. I decided not to try to explain mine–at least not at this moment. You see, I was able at that moment to realize that her way of looking at things is so different from mine. She’s not a romantic. She doesn’t like flirting or big showy gestures. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel love.

whisbi22111

She told me I was the first person she’d ever loved in this way. I knew that. She was my first, too. But then she told me that that was different. I would have lots of others after her. She wouldn’t. This was it, for her.

“I’m so sorry I hurt you,” she said. “You gotta know that wasn’t what I meant. You’re such a part of my life that being with you is normal now. It’s not that I take you for granted. It’s that I’ve…” She searched for the right word. “… I’ve incorporated you.”

whisbi22112

I didn’t really get what she meant. I still don’t exactly get it. But I definitely picked up that this meant something to her. It was significant.

Later that night, I was out skinny dipping in the moonlight, and Shannon came down to the pool.

“KaZAM!” she yelled. “Marigold Tea! You rock star, you! Light of my life! Everybody! Listen! Listen, you old Moon! I love this woman!”

whisbi22113

She watched me while I finished swimming and put my clothes back on.

For the first time, I finally realized it. Shannon Arkers loves me, and I was a fool to have ever doubted her.

whisbi22114

Stay true,

Me

<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.12

Dear Mom,

Do you remember Shannon Arkers? She says that you knew each other when you were at University.

She’s become someone to me.

The other night, we were sitting around, and I told her about you and Dante.

“It must have been something to have been a child in a home with such an epic love,” she said.

whisbi21201

I responded that it was just normal to me. We laughed, because everything that was “normal” to me–a werewolf best friend, a plant baby brother, an imaginary friend (plus her little sister) turned real, a vampire ghost for my mom’s boyfriend, moonlight tea parties with zombies, 325 days of precipitation a year–all that I took for granted as part of a “normal” childhood is, actually, now that I think about, it, really quite wonderful and strange!

But I don’t know any other way.

“So it’s no wonder that you would fall for a crazy old rebel crone like me,” Shannon said.

“Yeah,” I replied. “Gotta find my normalcy somewhere.”

whisbi21202

But it feels epic, Mom, what Shannon and I share. It’s become the focal point of my college experience.

whisbi21203

I watch her, and I feel like I understand what I want out of life, who I want to be. I mean, I don’t want to be Shannon, of course. I want to keep being me. But the thing is, Shannon shows me how to be through the whole course of my life. I don’t have to give up who I am when I “grow up.” In fact, Shannon says that she never says “grow up” or “grow old.” Always, just simply, grow.

whisbi21204

Do you know that Shannon’s never had a lover before? I was looking forward to hearing her stories of epic love, but she told me this was it.

She’s an aro-ace, Mom, but I bet they didn’t use that term back when you were in college. It just means that she’s aromantic and asexual, which means that she’s not into romantic gestures and she’s not sexually attracted to others, male, female, or trans.

I asked her, “Then what’s this you share with me? And why now?”

She said it’s love. Plus, she wanted to try everything in her life, and if she were going to fit in this type of relationship, she’d better do it now or never!

I think it’s pretty amazing that we are each other’s firsts.

whisbi21205

She’s so non-flirty it’s funny. Like the other evening, we went out to eat, and I was feeling romantic, so I was giving her lines. I mean, they were true, and they were how I felt, but they were also romantic lines, like what you might read in a Valentine’s card.

And she started laughing. “You can’t believe that people fall for the moonlight crap, can you?” she said. We both cracked up so hard. I mean it spoiled the mood, but it also created its own mood, which was pretty fun in its own way.

whisbi21210

Then the next night, she surprised me with red roses.

“Is this how it’s done?” she asked.

It meant more to me, coming from her when I know she’s not naturally thinking about roses unless they’re growing in a garden for snails and slugs to munch on.

whisbi21211

We have the most fun when we’re just hanging out together. She says the wildest things and she’s got the best stories.

She told me about a time when she occupied the quad for three weeks in protest of a rule banning women from trying out for the rugby team. She won, and everyone thought she’d try out. It was years before any women did try out, and more years before any of them made it. I asked her why she did it. “Stupid rules,” she said. “I can’t bear to belong to any organization that has stupid rules.”

She said you were the same way, and she told me about a time when you’d led a successful protest against harsh grading, all so that Shea, who didn’t have the cultural concept of possession, wouldn’t fail his papers for not using possessive apostrophes.

whisbi21212

Seeing you and Dante, Mom, I always knew I wanted to have a Big Love. I never used to dream about what it would look like, and whether I’d have a prince or princess in shining armor. I just focused on the feeling. You know what I mean: the feeling of home.

whisbi21213

I wish you’d been around to see me off to college, Mom. Wish you were still around to actually get these letters I write to you, instead of me tying them up with string and sticking them in the shoebox I keep under my bed.

I think–at least, I hope–it’d bring a smile to you to know that your daughter had been paying attention to your lessons in love.

Miss you, always. Love you, forever.

Marigold

<< Previous | Next >>