2018, thus far, has been something of a tough year for me. For personal reasons that I’d rather not go into my mental health has been on, but not great, and at times, often in sporadic patches, my self-confidence has been through the floor.
I don’t like me when I’m feeling like that. The me that’s full of insecurity and anxiety, that clams up, catastrophises, and is constantly looking for affirmation and reassurance. I feel like I’ve forgotten the progress I’ve made over the last five years.
But that’s not everything. I’ve made a number of (triumphant?) returns. I was at Eroticon this year; I had films shown at the London Porn Film Festival and Porn Film Festival Berlin. I’ve written (almost all of) a new short erotica piece (my first in well over a year).
This year has also seen some firsts. My partner and I gave workshops at KinkFest; I’m making a documentary film; I’ve done some freelance writing (note to self, get back to that article you’re meant to be writing); I’ve got potential film projects in the pipeline ranging from musical shorts to furry drama (you read that right). I had a one-on-one rope lesson with Hajime Kinoko (well, kind of three-in-one). There’s actually a lot of this to unpack when I start thinking about it.
And I also realise that, even at its worst, I’m in a much better place than in 2014. I have financial stability, a home, complete with loving partner and cat. I’m able to pursue my rather daft hobbies with few restrictions. I’m doing ok, a little wobbly in places, but that’s to be expected right?
A muddle of self-imposed pressure and anxiety. Pushing myself to make the most of my time on this business-plus-pleasure trip, and realising day by day how much I miss the countless little bits of support I have when I’m home.
If nothing else, this trip has assured me that the cultural differences between Britain and Japan are broadly exaggerated. This isn’t stranger in a strange land syndrome.
Well, not quite. There are strangers, countless unfamiliar people. The same was once true of London, or indeed anywhere beyond the small village I grew up in. But now I don’t have the energy to reach out and form connections; and I certainly don’t have time.
It’s not quite loneliness. Actually by my standards I’ve done an impeccable job of socialising. Last night I was in a bar full of strangers, but I talked with people and they made me feel very welcome.
But even the best strangers are still exhausting, and I’m adrift in a sea of them for at least another couple of days…
Last week was folk songs and heavy metal, Iron Maiden and the Dubliners. Last week was busy and full of schemes and plans.
Today is different. Today is skate punk and sunshine, hobbies and pretending to get stuff done in the office. Today I’m feeling floaty, detached from the world, like I’m missing something, but nothing important.
Maybe it’s the spring, a million jubilant sense-memories, the sky losing its claws and green vibrant energy bursting from every nook and cranny.
Beltane is barely a week away and this year I can feel it in my bones.
I thought I knew the answer to that one. I had a nice clear idea of what kind of relationship I wanted, how it would work, what the boundaries and dynamics involved would be. Nice and easy. The only problem was finding the right person, right?
Then I fell in love. Ok to tell the story fully that happens at least three times, but I’m talking about the most recent and most important one. The one that I’m living with and rediscovering on a daily basis.
But this isn’t a blog post about that. Rather just to say that it changed things, changed my living circumstances, my life plans, and, inevitably, what I’m looking for.
If something goes from being the primary thing you’re looking for to something else, something to be explored ad hoc, but without all the accoutrements of an escalator relationship, what does that say about the thing you wanted? Or thought you wanted?
I mean, on some level it simplifies things, secondary (yes I’m using hierarchical terms, it’s just easier to express this way) relationships demand less, are easier to work around, can be more casual.
Except “casual” doesn’t really mean that to me. Ok so maybe a relationship can be one that isn’t my main focus, but that doesn’t make the me that goes into them any less. That doesn’t make the things we do any less important.
You see I’m not always the most observant, or maybe I lean to the “they probably aren’t trying to fuck me” side of Ocham’s razor.
The thing is, I’ve been thinking about it and that situation probably isn’t the only time this has happened to me.
There’s the time I went around for a play date and someone’s boyfriend was lounging on the bed in his underwear. In fact I was (and remained) the only person present who wasn’t basically naked.
Then there’s the house party when things had whittled down to six of us and the three women present started making out while the rest of us sat in a kind of awkward aroused silence (thinking back on that one the host seemed really quite upset that I was leaving…)
Which I guess raises the weird thought of, what if there have been other times this has happened? How many of us are stumbling through the world a hairs-breadth away from all manner of sensual and sexual encounters?
They say bad decisions make for good stories? I’m not sure I necessarily go with that, but a part of me is definitely starting to question my judgement.
I launch myself into the attack anyway, not wanting to embarrass myself in front of the others. My fist finds only empty air. Then the world whips around me and I’m on the floor, the flat thud ringing in my ears while my arm explodes in pain.
She stands over me for a second, then, seeing I’m ok, offers me a hand up.
“Like that,” she says, turning to address the room. I cradle my arm, carefully testing it’s movement. It’s fine, no damage, only pain, shimmering through my joints.
She turns back to me, drops into stance. I try not to wince as I do likewise and we repeat the process, slower, and with her pausing to explain the technique.
Later that evening I lie in bed, phone cluthed in my left hand typing slow, clumsy messages.
“You say that every time”
“I mean it, sensei used me as her personal rag doll”
“Well I’d have thought that was right up your alley?”
“It’s different when you do it”
I want to type something about there not being a roomful of strangers watching, but I’m worried that it’ll just give her ideas.
“With you it’s not fighting, it’s different”
“Tell me more”
I realise that she might be typing one-handed too.
“With you I get to let the bad things happen. I can be scared, and excited and…”
I’m worried that I’m losing my point, trying to get too intellectual.
“But it’s ok, to be those things. I’m scared but I know it’ll be ok, that I can trust you, trust you to do things nobody else can”
She responds with an angel emoji and a smiling devil.
I type out a message, hesitate then send it.
“Please may I touch myself?”
Three dots drum like fingers on an armrest.
“No my dear, I think you need to rest that arm of yours.” I can feel her grinning at the other end of the line.
“Understood…” I cap the message with a frustrated face.
“Though now you mention it I think I’ll have one more orgasm before bed”
We say our goodnights and I roll over. Curling into a ball, my cock pressing against my belly, thinking of her, curling up in her own bed, vibrator between her thighs. Thinking of me?
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