Yesterday afternoon I was walking through the lobby of the Beyond Leather host hotel here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Not long after teaching my second class of the day, I found myself in an intriguing exchange with a dashing salt-and-pepper haired gentleman of British extraction. He was holding my hand and pressing his lips to the back of my hand. He’d been gazing admiringly at me as I crossed the lobby, and when he’d initially spoken, I thought he was taking the piss. See, in the class I’d just been teaching I had mentioned I had a particular weakness for accents. I thought this might be a bit of a flirtatious gambit. That was fine actually. This was day 2 of Beyond Leather and I’d had many conversations in passing and some of the more silly ones had involved quite a bit of mental jockeying and word play.
This particular flirtatious ex-SAS Englishman and sadist had no of way of knowing he had scored a few points on my personal “WIN!” list. As he smiled at me, I was certainly intrigued. He asked if I was going to be playing that evening. I was, for the first time in 13 months of national Leather Events, able to say “Yes, in fact, I do have a play date about which I’m very excited!”
He mentioned that he, too, would be playing. And even offered the approximate time and location of the scene he would be conducting. For those not familiar with typical Kink Scene interactions, this is about as big a “flirt and flex flag” as a top or dominant can wave when in this situation.
See, I don’t know this dude from Adam. But inviting a bottom to watch you play demonstrates a modicum of confidence in displaying your skill, inviting them to check you out, so that they then have a common point of reference with regard to your play style.
And he seemed to be very interested in watching me play.
Kissing my hand again he lamented aloud “Ah, well…would that you were submissive!”
”Actually, I am.”
His gaze focused.
As my long time friend Bailey pointed out, this may well have been a “fish” for information. There are infinite ways of information gathering with a potential play-partner. By veering for this tack, he then had the opportunity to gauge my reaction to his question. The level of enthusiasm or dismissal can provide a great deal of information.
Though I was certainly at least interested in such an opportunity to observe, I don’t often commit to multiple scenes in one night. I tend to go pretty deeply in playing and need to have that focus.
But I gave him my card. He clarified his interest in learning more about me.
One never knows.
One might not know, but if you are me, you do often have “knowing.”
Oddly, I’d had a very strong feeling, a few days ago, that the playdate to which I was so looking forward wouldn’t materialize. But I had no real reason to think that I would miss out of that opportunity. I mean, this had been planned in advance, there were THREE days in which to have plenty of flexibility, somewhere in there a scene could be arranged at sometime, yes?
I’m not of a mind to divulge my friend’s personal shit. I can say that, despite good intentions and despite my limited expectations, things derailed. And derailed badly.
A personal issue came up for my friend. He had to go deal with this in his own way. He understandably needed some space. I sent a series of text messages to check in as I was not at all sure what had happened. I did receive a bit of information from him which lead me to believe that yeah, something was uncool, but no emergency situation was unfolding.
Post demo rope marks.
I was disappointed but didn’t wanna be selfish. Gotta let go of expectations, yeah? And probably this would resolve later.
I also was not, to be honest, convinced that I would let a distant situation derail me from enjoying something I wanted. There is a lot that happens in life over which you have no control. But you do have control over your reaction to these troubles. I know for me, I loathe the idea that some fuckery deprives me of joy. Life is too short.
I caught up with Bailey. We chatted up some girl talk and caught up while I tried to not take any of this crap personally, to see if possibly this could be salvaged. I didn’t want to bug my erstwhile play-partner. He wasn’t in a great headspace, and needed personal time. And if, in fact, this situation was so vexing his headspace wasn’t in playing, well…so it goes. There was still Sunday…
I didn’t hear back after several messages and a voicemail. SO, I went to ground and just tried to relax. I really didn’t feel like going to the dungeon and watching all of these people enjoying, once more, everything I was, once again, denied.
Then my phone rang and I was advised by a mutual acquaintance that my date had come out of his funk and, it seems, was cheering himself up by scenening with someone who was not me.
Let me say I was not in a graceful place upon receiving this news. Walking in to the playspace and confronting the situation was, for ME, out of the question.
So I lay in bed sobbing and feeling like absolute shit.
Once again, I wasn’t enough, I was disposable, and I could be pushed aside in favor of someone else.
Regardless of whether or not this is true, this was how I felt.
Things were tangled and unhappy and only became more so after my distraught posts to Twitter were read by some people who were here at the event who, after offering me sympathetic support, conveyed to my anticipated play-partner that I was…not happy.
Interestingly, once he did contact me and came to my room (at my invitation) to talk, his affect was angry. Evidently my own expressions of upset were seen as an attack on his character.
I wasn’t in a good place to have my own disappointment and battered ego confronted with his backlash. So I took a series of deep breaths and let him explain his side of the story. It was convoluted. And I have zero reason to think it was a lie. But my feelings have a right to be respected. And he fell down in the chain of communication by not responding to me.
I had to do something I have an absolutely difficult time with, and that was to make clear I thought there had been a failure. On his part. On a very basic level.
I know that life intrudes. I know that slings and arrows and sticks and stones and all of these things can belay even the best laid plans.
And I believe also that how one handles stress and storms is even more important than how one lives in smooth situations.
We all make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes wound and slice the emotions of others. And at that point the only thing you can do is to take responsibility for your actions and reactions to this stress.
As I have a promise made to myself many years ago not to sleep on anger, we talked through my feelings, my reaction, his view of the situation, etc.
I can say I am proud of myself for remaining grounded by my emotional truth. I did not cave in to my reflex to “Let it go.” I weighed what forgiveness I could give him and what was just too much. I let my compassionate nature soothe my nerves and to trust that I was making concessions in the right place and standing firm in others.
And in the morning I did receive the apology that I needed to have that piece of responsibility acknowledged.
Today is a new day.
In these Leather Event situations, when you are in high profile mode, you certainly don’t have time to be a mopey shithead when you are a presenter. And especially when you are me.
I had to publically interact with my friend, our very new truce in place. I will pat myself on the back again for handling that.
Though I certainly have no love for feeling like refried shit and having to suck it up and repair damaged friendships, I learned that I have the capacity to be strong and also to handle my shit with some dignity.
I also am proud that I held fast to my personal standards and not cave in to loneliness and desperation for play and pain and affection when it wasn’t offered on terms that I could accept.
I have compromised before.
I have felt what that is like.
I have let people have what they wanted of me and leave the rest.
I know what that feels like.
I am not enthralled with the sensation of standing firm and holding fast to my core values and still feeling alone and lost. But I have to do this.
If I settle again for crumbs, delicious and tempting as they are, I will be left alone. Again.
See, the thing about compromise for me is this: if the other person gets everything that they wanted and I get some of what I want, I will soon find myself with an emotional deficit I have no way to close.
But I held my shit together. I had friends call and write and offer their love.
And someone does want that, can handle, is worthy…and someone will care with the capacity and focus that matches my own.
So tonight I will lie low, I think. I am not of a mind to be used and played and then left behind. Sometimes that can be very sexy. Not so much tonight.
And I have been invited back to Beyond Leather 2010, which is, for me, quite an honor. I heard I received universal glowing reviews. I can stand alone there too. That is all me, absorbing, distilling, filtering and serving up my life, my essence, me.