It’s rife’s 27th birthday today!
So far, we have stayed in bed late, toured the chalk art birthday greetings that I drew all over our sidewalks last night, had an epic “hash brown heaven” breakfast, looked over the composite astrological chart I had done (basically the astrological chart for our relationship) done by a queer dominant (so it includes a bunch of fascinating stuff about our power dynamic!), opened a few gifts, and returned home to do some work before we head down to the opening queer happy hour for International Ms. Leather weekend kink event & contest tonight.
Would you you wish him happy birthday over on twitter (he’s @rowdyferret) or here in this post for me? Mostly because I want him to know how deeply loved he is.
And, if you’re starting to get a little crush on this hot piece of ass, here’s a present for you: a little rife collage of some of my favorite photos of him from the past few years. Some are shots I’ve taken, some he took (with a timer).
There are so many different cities on this little collage … I see Oakland, Baltimore, Hudson Valley, NY, DC, LA, Houston, Seattle, Oregon, and Brooklyn at least. It definitely accurately reflects how much adventuring we’ve had even in the short two and a half years we’ve been together.
And, it reflects how damn sexy that boy is. Fuck. I feel really lucky to have him, that he chose me, that we are a good match.
If you’d like to do something else sweet for the birthday boy, go check out The GENDER Book’s store and buy some goodies! The ebook is a sliding scale of $0+, the hardback is $30, the posters are $12+, the GENDER Booklets are DIY free or $4 printed, the Safe(r) Spaces kit with resources and posters and etc are $0+. There must be somethin’ over there of interest! Check it out, & support his project and labor of love.
Oh yeah and also: The GENDER Book Release Parties!
If you’re in the Bay Area, there’s a book release party/shower on Sunday, May 4th, and if you’re near Houston, there’s another big release party on Thursday, May 15th. Perhaps you’d like to go pick up your book in person?
Happy birthday, beautiful special boy. I love you so much.
Because my instinct is to punch
to keep arm’s length
while yours is to hug close
which for a boxer means safety
and for a wrestler means takedown.
I have no technique for body
slams, no low center of gravity,
my strength is my arms shoulders
wrists knuckles, my strength in my
fearless slams against a wall. See—
even there—I am too careful
with my skeleton to have ever sought
a singlet, a blue plastic mat, and
I use walls instead, ropes, gloves.
But I let you tackle me, buck-eyed
in Santa Monica ferris wheel lights
in front of the crash of ocean that
slowly, slowly laps away stone
mountains, even though the first
sideways takedown whiplashed
my neck and I never learned
how to fall, because somehow
I knew how you’d hold me
against your heart
(after the fourth time)
and how I’d let you.
We’ve been working on discipline and service over in the Submissive Playground course, so I’ve been thinking a lot about both.
Earlier this week, rife didn’t want to do the dishes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he was being “naughty” (though he did apologize for being so later). It was getting late, and I gave him a direct order—”Go do the dishes”—and instead of heading into the kitchen, he hopped onto my lap, kissing me, flirting.
“What if you can’t resist my boyish charms?” He giggled, and I laughed and kissed him back, and he gave me that dimpled smile that I can never resist. But … I’d been thinking about discipline. About order. And, about what it’s like to be a Daddy to someone who grows up, and what it’s like to be a Dominant who is firmly In Charge.
His task this week is to get off every day, and as such I lifted all orgasm restrictions that are usually in place: he can touch himself, he can use any toys he wants, he can come anytime I touch him—he doesn’t have to ask. I did leave one restriction in place, and that’s that he cannot use any toys in his ass without my permission, that hole being my domain exclusively for almost two years now. Having all this permission lifted seems to have made him a bit more bold this week, a bit more playful.
I like it.
(It has also helped that we both are finally, finally recovered from the Holiday flu, which lasted almost a month.)
He rocked his hips on my lap a little, and immediately I felt myself getting hard. He wanted to play. I wanted to play.
I caught his wrists with my hand and said, “I gave you a direct order: “Go do the dishes.” You think you get to just play whenever you want? You think you don’t have to do what I say?”
He backed off a little, sweet and shy, and started to defend himself with a comment, but I pulled his body up and started shoving him toward the bedroom, with a plan. He tried to dig his feet in to the floor and resist, but I slid him easily just by pushing. (Halfway through the kitchen, he mumbled, “Stupid socks!” and we both burst out laughing.)
I know from experience that he can take me. He was a wrestler, he plays rugby. I am a poet who likes to hike. He pinned me five times in a row when we wrestled on an LA beach. I’m bigger than him, so sometimes my size can pin him, but he’s fast and strong and knows the tricks. But that’s part of what makes it fun—I know, on some level, that he doesn’t want to win. That he resists because he likes me to push him.
When I shove him face-first onto the bed, I pull his pants down to his knees, his shirt over his head. We’re both laughing and breathing hard. I gather a few things from the shelves and use them, one by one. First the gag. Then the hanky tie around his wrists. Neither of us are laughing now. Then the little tube of lube to fill up his ass, followed by my fingers—”You may as well relax, boy, it’s going in one way or the other”—and finally, the thick butt plug.
I leave him there for a minute, pressing against him. I whisper some things in his ear … things like, you’re not actually in trouble. I like it when you flirt with me. But I like it when you do what I tell you to do even more. I love the way you make me want you, make me pull in the reigns. I love you. Good boy.
He softens and lets out a couple little moans. I feel our bodies line up, then pull his briefs back up and say, “Leave your jeans. And go. Do. The. Dishes.”
He lifts his head and there’s a pool of drool on the bedspread. He gets up, still with the gag and the wrist tie and the plug, goes to the kitchen; I heard the water start to run and the clink of dishes in the sink. I sit on the small couch in our bedroom and write, thinking about power, thinking about what I am going to do to him when he was done. After a page or so I hear some clattering in the kitchen, and it doesn’t stop, and I know the tie on his wrists are in the way of his task, so I go to remove it, playing with the plug in his ass as cost for this convenience. He bends over the sink to give me his ass, moaning and drooling around the gag. I leave him, briefs now wet, to finish the few things left and go back to writing a little longer.
When he comes into the bedroom, I barely look up. “Down,” I point next to me, our signal for kneeling, and he does, leaning his head on my thigh. I finish my thoughts in my notebook and stand up, strip my pajama pants and briefs, spread my legs around him and pull his head to my cunt.
“Ohh, you still have that gag, isn’t that unfortunate,” I tease. He moans, trying to rub against me, feeling that I’m already hard … and dripping. I let him struggle for a minute, but want his open mouth too much so I undo the gag and toss it aside.
“Thank you, Sir,” he says, and lowers his mouth to my dick, tongue cupping and sucking. In the right mood, I can let him do this for a long time, but I’m a little too eager to relax tonight. I want his fist, I want a thrashing come, I want to shove in, I want to be shaken at my core.
I start working his head on my dick, then holding him steady while I move my hips so I thrust into his mouth. “It’s been a while since you came with my dick in your mouth,” I lean down so my mouth is close to his ear. “Do it for me.” I pull his head away and hold him by his collar, bring my hand down to jerk myself off. “Can you do it if I come all over your face and I make you watch?” He strains at his collar, stretches his tongue to lick me. I can feel his body taut and getting close. He’s straddling my leg and I can feel him rock the butt plug against me. The denial will tip him over the edge. Maybe I’ll just shoot down his open mouth, maybe I’ll not let him touch me. I feel … something … building in me and I want to use him to get myself there, to work it out of me. I jerk it and he gasps, shakes, thrusts forward. I feel his body tighten, and open, then relax, and he collapses against me.
I say some little reassurance things, telling him he’s a good boy and I like using him, and we sit for a minute, touching softly, that sweet pillow talk kind of mood, until I stand up. “Come on,” I say, lying on the bed; he follows me, and I shove him where I want him. “Inside.” I say. “Your fingers. Now.” He works in one, then two; I hand him the bottle of lube and he works in more. I float, working myself up, sliding my fingers around my clit and feeling my tissues swollen and hard, needing, eager. Sometimes it is hard for me to come, but I am determined to tonight. I barely notice when he slides his fist all the way in, just feel that full pressure of being stretched inside.
It is hard to describe my own orgasms. Maybe they have become increasingly internal and complex over the years I’ve done more bodywork, maybe because I’m shy. Sometimes I see kaleidoscope colored patterns, or have visions. Sometimes I feel like I’m scrunching up my face and trying so hard, never quite sure if I’m actually going to reach the kind of release my body is craving.
But sometimes, like last night, it all just comes together, and I have someone so perfectly willing to do precisely what I need, that I can have transcendent experiences in my own bed, with my boy, with just our bodies and our love and our power.
He pulled his fist out when it was too much, and teased just the right spot with his fingertips while I jerked my small dick. Every part of me tensed and gathered. The climax was a relief, a release I can never quite control, where I yell hard, my throat chafed and voice horse afterward, and I groan, and I squeeze out everything I can, until it’s just all flowing so smoothly that I burst open, and the yells turn into sobs, those full-body, chest heaving, I’m-not-sure-I’m-going-to-stop-crying kind of sobs. I breathe. I cry. I trust the sweet feeling of my boy’s body, resting gently on mine, know that he’s there if I need anything. Grateful that he’s there. Grateful that he can hold me the way he does, that he can serve me, that he can take my need for controlled behavior and instructions and tasks and turn it into a way to make us closer together. Lucky to have found him. Lucky that he chose me.
I pull him up to me and wipe my face, catch my breath, as my crying stops. We hold each other in the quiet for a little while. “Thank you for doing the dishes,” I say.
“Thank you for motivating me,” he says.
I fell asleep thinking, That, right there, is the kind of discipline and service that I like.
Featured image borrowed from The Crash Pad Series. More about the featured images is coming soon!
Too much time away from you and I get hungry for your holes. There are so many metaphors for “fitting”—puzzle pieces and two halves, the children of the sun and moon from Hedwig—but that would be too trite and I’m too jaded to believe we’re “made for each other” or that it’s been you I’ve been searching for all along.
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” a mentor of mine said just yesterday.
That doesn’t stop me from saying those things to you anyway. They are fictive truths, things I stretch to be more romantic, much like telling you you’re a filthy faggot slut or that you’re mine, all mine, and I don’t care what you want, I’m going to use you.
Of course the truth is, I do care.
Of course the truth is, we own ourselves the most.
Of course the truth is, well, you actually are a filthy faggot slut, so I have you on that one.
Of course the truth is, all relationships end, and who knows how long we’ll have for ours. What I do know is that I will do my best to love you well, and that for you, for us, that means the hole-hunger I get from not filling you recently enough.
When I fill you, it is the most singular act I can do. It is the only thing I am doing, this focus on how much your body gives, how strong your muscles are, which are holding you up, which are holding me up, and how sacredly redeemable all things are in that moment of sliding in. We start again, like every day every breath. We open deeper, and in that opening find more strength and more of ourselves to give.
I do not understand my craving for a tight fit, resistance to my entry, those moments of giving in and giving over. I only know the thing that drives me, still, after all these years, through all heartache and loss and grief and strife and insecure creative hustle, is the ever-present faith of loving, and being loved, just right.
When I think about the past two years, and trying to put some sort of something together to explain how it’s been, I think in photographs. That one where he’s picking raspberries with his bare hands, crouched in his brown tee shirt, raspberry juice running down his wrists, pink staining his tongue. The one where he and his dog are surveying the moonscape of northern Yukon right before we turned past the “Welcome to Alaska!” sign. The one he called “doing important boy work” where he was sitting in a jock strap and nothing else on the porch at the ranch writing in his leather boy journal, writing reflections on tasks for me or writing about feelings of service and submission or writing a book report, I don’t know what the task was, but I’m sure it was important. The one with his dimples in that orange-red light that I looked at over and over before I really knew him.
I’d put together a collage post, an essay in photographs, but that doesn’t feel good enough, because who knows what you’d see. Maybe you’d see what I see, all the sweet boy tasks and dimpled smiles and creating art, but you wouldn’t see so many of the other things: the quiet contemplation, the complexities, the intensity of inner landscape, the artistry, the precision, the majesty.
It’s not easy, this intimate loving. I don’t know how it could ever be easy. It’s a practice of stripping away blocks, stripping away defenses, reminding myself over and over to let in, take in, open up, drop that protective layer. What a horrible thing to do, and how beautiful. What else is there, really, than to let someone see who I am as true as I possibly can.
This is my best truth, I whisper to him over and over, with each breath, while I sleep, while my lips touch his fingertips, while my key fits his lock. Right now, I am ruined. Right now, I am running. Right now, I am ruminating. Right now, I am rubber bouncing away. Right now, I am rumbling. Right now, I am rushed. Right now, I am a ruby shining. Right now, I am rusted through and I fear one touch will crumble everything. Right now, I just need you to hold me, take your hand and put it there, hold me from inside.
I have loved enough to know not to make grand declarations while I fall. I know I have said the same things, again and again. Falling always feels like that: brand new, awakened, like nothing else ever before. And it’s true. This time, it’s green green in all her shades, babygreen and lime and chartreuse, fresh mown grass, pine and spruce, fern and jungle, tea and olive, so many options. Let’s spend the life of our relationship cataloguing all of the hues and saturations, all of the chroma and light, every kind of value there may be. Let’s memorize the hex and RGB codes and recite them in each other’s ears when we need to remember the secret language in which we speak. This green that is growth and renewal, from budding seed to moss covering the old growth. Every stage, none more valuable than the other. None needing to be hidden. No forest does their mourning in silence, hidden away in holes or caves. Trees fall out in the open, unapologetic. This is my direction. I will now lay down to rest. We heard that great snap on the outer point trail and both looked to the canopy: which one would it be? The clear sound of tree death echoed, but it took a moment before falling. Like a ball bouncing tall tall tall and then less and less until the sound waterfalls. The tree was a waterfall as it descended, mortal, unrooted.
This is what happens. Unrooted I descend, mortal, and no one to be worshipped. And yet he does it anyway. So devoted, he whispers, and I whisper it right back. My noblesse oblige, my responsibilities, the placement in his life I continue to earn daily as I am to be and act from my best self. The deepest of forest greens. Living with him seems small compared to owning him.
I don’t know why I crave the power I do, nor does he know why he craves the submission he does. We puzzle, we theorize, we study, we muse. And we give to each other in these ways that we have always craved. Something in me didn’t know what I wanted was to own, to master. The verb, the job title—not the honorific, not yet (maybe that will come later). But as I study this path, I realize I’ve always been on it. Always been trying to encourage something more, and making do with my own limitations.
I’ve been making offerings my whole life, holding up gifts, looking at paths and asking if they wanted to walk it with me. This is the boy who has taken my hand and said yes. This is the boy who showed me paths he’s discovered, too, but had not yet walked, knowing the essentiality of having another with him. This is the boy who has been offering, over and over, to take more if they wanted it. I want more. I want the edge. I seek the razor on which we can both balance. I seek the calling to be my own best self. I seek one who will stay at my feet not because it serves him, but because it serves me. That is a fine line of difference, but makes everything change.
Right now, I am shining in the oldest forest, crackling descent to the earth, digging up rubies. Doesn’t green shine brighter when there’s red around? Isn’t my heart just oh so ready to pour this blood into the earth? Isn’t there so much more to love than heartbreak? Isn’t there so much possibility, when puzzle pieces find each other? Aren’t we so ready, so prepared and ready, to live our way to the answers, live our way to the creations of our quiet, deepest callings?
I don’t know what happens next. But I know this is the beginning of year three, and I’m listening. I choose.
Katrina Elisse Caudle, www.kisskissdiary.com
Today’s mini-interview about open relationships with Katrina is in a podcast format! It’s 17 minutes, and Katrina has some great things to say. Check it out.
Kyle Jones, www.butchtastic.com
1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?
I assumed that there was ‘a way’ to do poly and that if I learned that method, everything would work out perfectly. What I learned was that there are as many ways to open up a relationship as there people doing it. I’ve also learned that it can all change – people change, their needs and circumstances change. When that happens, your approach to poly may need to change – temporarily or permanently. And, this one has been the hardest, a person can identify as poly at one point in their life and as monogamous at another point in their life. Even though I was strictly monogamous for the first 40 years of my life, it never occurred to me that a person could go the other direction. So I guess in the beginning, it might have helped to hear from someone with more experience that things can change, in all directions, and the best thing to do about that is to have really excellent and honest communication with your partners, and work on those while it’s easy, so you are more capable of communicating well and handling change when it comes.
2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?
When my wife and I opened up our relationship, I knew I’d go through a period where it was hard to deal with her being with others. I was determined to work through that and I was lucky to have good friends to talk things through with. I also had someone I was seeing outside our primary relationship, so the NRE and excitement of that carried me through a lot of the more difficult initial stuff. What I wasn’t prepared for was the differences in how my wife and approach being poly, and how that would effect our relationship. I am truly polyamorous, I am happiest and healthiest when I love, and am loved by, multiple people at the same time. My wife comes from a ‘friends with benefits’ perspective. She is leery of and steers clear of people who are likely to develop a romantic love for her. This has been a source of conflict for us, as she has been very critical of my approach. When things get challenging in my other relationships, she has a tendency toward ‘I told you so’ comments, which I don’t take well. She would be much happier if I’d manage my other relationships the same way she does, but I’m not wired that way. This difference and conflict is not something I was prepared for and remains a source of stress between us, though not as much as in the beginning.
3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?
I’m not as angry, resentful or depressed as I was before we opened things up. Since I was looking to my wife to meet all my intimate relationship needs, when it became clear that some of my needs were not going to be met by her, I grew angry, resentful and depressed. Having the opportunity for other partners means I’m not angry with her for not being everything for me. As time went on, and I became interested in pursuing my interest in kink, it was really, really good to know I could, even though my wife has no interest in BDSM. Over all, I’ve learned a lot about my capacity to love and hold space for multiple people. I am a much better communicator now, I think I’m more empathetic and slower to judge. As time goes on, I am more gentle with myself, less likely to judge myself for emotions that are generally seen as negative – jealousy, fear of inadequacy, insecurity. Learning to recognize those reactions as valid and honest, learning to express and own them and learning to accept them with less judgement has been a very positive experience. Also, I’ve been learning the lesson that in order to do well in a relationship, to give to your partners, you have to make sure to give to yourself, too.
4. Anything else you’d like to add?
When people say that communication is the key to successful polyamory, they are not just saying it because everyone else does. It is absolutely essential to continuously practice honest, open, sincere communication with all you partner with. But not only that, you need to practice it with yourself. Be honest about what you need and what and expect from the relationships you are in. If you find yourself giving up on your needs and wants, that is a warning sign. You need to be very careful about giving up your needs in order to make things easier with a partner. That road leads to resentment, insecurity, depression and a breakdown in the relationship. If you’re not happy and feeling good about the relationship, you’re not going to do a great job in it. Self-sacrifice has its place, but if that’s all you’re doing, you’re not having a relationship based on equality and balance.
The things that make good relationships between primary partners, make good relationships between all partners. Since everyone will naturally have different expectations and assumptions about relationships, discussing those assumptions and expectations — not just once, but regularly — is a core part of healthy poly. Expect change, come up with strategies for handling change, both within yourself and with your partners. Don’t assume you know what’s going on, ask, listen, ask some more. Cultivate friendships with poly knowledgeable people who aren’t partners so you have friends to go to for feedback, or just to safely rant about things. Realize that for most people, jealousy, fear, competitiveness, feelings of insecurity — emotions we tend to judge as negative — don’t just go away when you’re poly, people who are poly aren’t less likely to experience those emotions.
Now, if you want to ask about long distance poly relationships, that’s gonna generate a lot more paragraphs :-)
Love is generous. Love is incomparable.
Love is not quantifiable, but
we put numbers and words to it anyway,
because that is our nature, to strive
to express the unexpressable. Love
is letting go. Love is holding
gently. Love is allowance, gratitude,
cheerleading. Love is fluidity, not
rigidity. Love is dishing and sharing
excitement. Love is knowing
no one person is your everything. Love
is persistence and patience and
reassurance. Love is sincere apologies
and fucking up and knowing
you have the space to fuck it up again,
and knowing you have even more space
and support and tools and skills
to try harder. Love is lonely, sometimes,
because you have room to be alone. Love
is smothering, sometimes, because
you have desire to be close. Love is
coming together and going apart
a thousand times a day. Love is learning
to recognize the difference. Love is
asking for what you want. Love is
practicing to be bold and courageous,
sometimes, when we can. Love is
curled under the covers when
refuge is needed. Love is gross
and body fluids and waste and
old moldy salsa jars in the fridge.
Love is the light through the east
window just right on a winter afternoon.
Love is wrestling with deep contradictory
truths. Love is feeling the fear
and doing it anyway. Love is reconciling
daily, sometimes hourly. Love is a golden
bubble bath and a white washcloth
that smells like jasmine. Love is
making a special trip to the store
for eggs and cheese and root beer
and coming back to find no one home.
Love is checking in twice. Love is not
having to explain every feeling or
misunderstanding. Love is planting
and not knowing what will come up,
what will blossom,
what will bloom. Love
is trying anyway. Love is risk.
Love is undefend,
Love is asking yourself if this
is an act of war or an act of
god. Love is self-soothing
and taking on the world, sometimes
for more than just yourself.
Love is crying alone. Love
is determination. Love is possible—
it has to be,
I chose to believe that it is.
I’ve started crying on airplanes. It used to be ginger ale, now it’s wine. I probably should have eaten more than a bagel, should have had more for dinner last night than a whiskey flight and a kiss, but now I am crying and beginning to hear the beat of a second heart in my chest.
I am exhausted. I’d like to sleep for a year. By which I mean, I’d like to turn down my consciousness in order to have some rest. My rest has not been deep enough, has not penetrated my bones. Too much has happened in the past year. I opened up my chest from the back and wings sprang out, and now I cannot wear my shirts or binders or coats or old patterns anymore. Nothing fits. I am running, running to catch up with myself, when really I’m supposed to be flying. Why else would I have these new tools?
But sometimes my pen won’t move. I love and love and love, aching to make sense, make meaning, make love with my every movement, and sometimes all I can do is collapse because I’m overfull and not full enough. An underactive nervous system prone to depression and shutting down, a blank page. Still I ache and move and nourish and detox and meditate. Still I feel this pulsing in my chest, faint like something coming from within the walls, this second heart beating and every once in a while blinking a tiny little light like a pulsar star. I want to build. To do something with all of this love and throbbing energy and heat and pure life force I am lucky enough to have. I hope to never forget to be grateful for every breath of air I magically take in, every moment of reception, penetration, release, surrender, power. I can’t help but course it all through my every vein.
I am starting to cry on airplanes. It is a place I can rest, so high above my email inbox and big loves (I count five) and the ground floor surface of earth’s crust. I am lightheaded up here, stripped of the daily needs of the world, and when I drop down under my days I find this ache. This exhaustion. This ongoing fear of misunderstanding. This curse of a body, of mortality, of injustice. I haven’t reconciled. I miss the clarity and discovery of youth, of innocence. I’d like to make sense of so many things, like how the black holes grow within us and what it could ever take to fill them, like how stone can trickle away through consistent gentle water, like why humans destroy each other from the inside out. I can’t seem to find meaning in wars, but still I engage, sometimes late at night with the ones I love most. Sometimes silently stowing my own cocks in empty boxes unworthy. Sometimes desperate sorrow. Sometimes the silent blank faith of the line without the next word.
The first day I had wings, it was awkward and inconsistent. The second day I toppled over, top heavy. The third day my errands were effortless.
I guess that’s all I want. Less effort, more sweetness. Less struggle, more radical empathy. To cry because it feels good to release, above, hurdling through the sky, the taste of wine on my tongue.
“Relationships take work,” they say. But as someone who now knows I spent way too long in failed or failing relationships, desperately clinging to any fragment of hope or chance of ‘making it work,’ as someone who stayed with abusers, bought their bullshit and was convinced by their smooth-talking blame-the-victim manipulations, as someone trying to wake up to my own power and control and confidence (and yes, maybe I’m spectrum-banging there a little bit, but I think sometimes that’s how I learn), as someone finally finally able to say, “I feel when you because,” and “you’re right, I’m sorry,” as someone who is still prone to overgiving and overwhelm and losing myself, my tendencies go the other way: to RUN. That this, this one, this time, this sign is The Sign, that any red flag is a Red Flag and is grounds to be a dealbreaker, that in six months I’ll look back to now and say there, that’s when it all went to hell, that was the point of no return, I should have listened to my gut, why’d I stay, why’d I trust her, again, how did I get here, I lost myself again, I swore that would never happen and here I am …
But that is not this relationship.
I am still skittish. I am still prone to explosions of emotion when I get scared. I am still unsure—not so much of her, or of this beautiful shiny strong relationship we are building, but of myself, my own ability to keep myself strong, solid, taken care of, whole.
It comes up again and again, especially lately, since she’s been in crisis and I want to help. I am a helper, and a service top, after all. My job is to take and care (but not caretake). My role is to comfort and protect. And when we both started realizing it was too much, and our parts in that, that I took on too much responsibility for her well-being and that she was leaning on me too much and not taking care of herself, I was left unsure of my standing.
What does she need me for, if she doesn’t need me for this?
Then came the silence, and look we stumbled upon another one of my many triggers: withdrawing. And we discovered containment doesn’t mean withdraw, and that I still need to learn how to listen without giving advice.
I need to remember who it is I am dating: her, this girl, only her, not any of my exes. How does one undo triggers, once they’re found? Or will they just always be there, like an old skiing injury, something to be constantly aware of and work around?
I need to remember this, rely on it: here are the things she and I are particularly good at:
- Telling each other, as openly, kindly, and honestly as possible, how we feel about where we’re coming from
- Taking responsibility for the parts that we own, and not blaming the other person
- Being totally willing to work on ourselves individually, and the relationship
- Being quick, thorough, vigilant learners, willing to do extensive research to get somewhere faster
I have never had any of these things, truthfully, in practice, in previous relationships, though I and my exes have often given lip service to many of them. Some of that was certainly my fault—it really is only recently that I was capable of executing them, the first one especially.
She keeps saying, “we love each other, we’ll get through this,” but that is not as comforting as those four traits, to me. This is about skill, this is about commitment, this is about patience. And yes sure, this is about love, too, and I am way too in love with this gorgeous, fierce, extraordinary person to stop the hard work it may take to get through these growing pains. They are as much mine as they are hers, and when we get through to the other side, we will know each other and ourselves better, we’ll be stronger and have more tools and skills to weather the changing emotional landscapes of love and relationships.
This continues to be a huge opportunity to grow and evolve and unstick the stuck places, and what better way to take that on than with a kind, loving person who knows me practically as well as I know myself? Together we are more than the sum of us separately, together we are stronger, bigger, more capable, more supported, buoyed by the magic strength that is sharing one’s life with another. Nothing cuts through the muscle, the bone, exposing the marrow, like love, does it? There is never so much to lose, so there is never so much to gain; with the highest stakes come the highest rewards.
I know relationships take work. I am willing to do the work, I just have to be certain that the work is worth doing. And perhaps for the first time, really, for the first authentic time, for the first awake and aware and really fully known time, I have someone who knows this takes work, who is certain the work is worth doing, and who is willing to do the work to be with me, too.
She never leaves my side at parties. People come up to talk to me or her or both of us and she has impeccable control over the conversation, a complex harmony of our varied voices with a beautiful baseline that she keeps with her heartbeat. She knows when and how to release us from a topic or person. She does most of the talking. I listen. I like it that way.
She puts her lovely hand on my elbow, my arm, the back of my neck, at small moments: a reassurance and support for which I am always grateful.
She leans in to give me a peck on the cheek near my ear and whispers, “I’m watching the clock. We’re leaving in thirty minutes so you can take me home and fuck me.”
I grin and sip a drink. Finger a pocketwatch, cufflinks, the knot of my tie.
She lets me drive her car. I spin the wheels on wet pavement and work the clutch like a lover: pressure, friction, demand, take. She has her hand on my inner thigh and we both want her to touch the bulge in the crotch but she resists. Her eyes sparkle watching the road.
(This is what I want.)
She sleeps in later than I do on the weekends. I get up, make coffee how she likes it, write for a few hours as she slumbers. Sometimes I take photos of the golden morning sun on her skin.
When she stirs I crawl back into bed with her and we make love, fuck, play until we are satiated and laughing, until our bodies edges are blurred into each other and our heartbeats are synchronized. Her long legs folded, knees touching her nipples. My hand in her thick long hair. Rocking her on the curve of her spine, rocking together.
We make food, replenish, drink coffee over ice and she cooks in the kitchen in only an apron until I lift her onto the counter, arms above her head holding onto the cabinets, bend her over the back of the couch, then again against the cool linoleum.
When I go back to work in the evening she lets me, she directs her energy to her own work, whatever that might be, something physical to balance my mental swirling. We keep each other balanced. She kisses the top of my head or trails her fingers on her shoulders as she walks by, but does not interrupt. She lets me be.
And then there is the reverence, mine.
I sit at her feet for hours and watch her brush her hair. I catch moonbeams in jam jars in an open field in Montana and bring them home to her to use as ribbons to tie around her wrists. I write her poems and she folds them into origami fireflies and strings them around our bookshelves. I tell her every day how stunning she is, how strong; I am breathless with my good fortune at ever gaining her attention.
I stoke the fire inside that shines behind her eyes to keep her lit, keep her going.
I buy her jewelry, not because I know her taste but because I want her to sparkle at her delicate places: her throat, her wrists, her ankles, her fingers, her ears. Every time she shakes her head or signs her name or pulls her hand from her pocket or reaches her arm or places her foot carefully onto the ground she glitters, and she and everyone around her are reminded that someone loves her (and it’s me), that I see everything she does as beautiful, that every time she moves I want everyone to know the immeasurable amount of spark she lends to those of us privileged enough to witness what she does with her extraordinary life.
This past weekend and some amazing time with Penny (more on that later) has me thinking about trust and femmes. I wrote recently in a dramatical moment, “I just don’t trust femmes anymore” – with immediate caveats and retractions – and I want to expound.
It is femmes that I perhaps trust the deepest. The way I am received – not just cock-and-cunt, not just my fist inside the muscular bowl between your legs, but all of me: when my strong hands weaken and flutter, when I cry, when I laugh too loud, when I give up give in let go, when I feel my power slipping and you put it right back into place with a gentle flick of your wrist.
It is within your embrace that I make the most sense. Callie was the first femme I ever dated, the first relationship where my affections were returned tenfold (before that, I’d loved a femme, my best friend, for years, but that was tragedy. After that, The Ex, who I thought was more femme than she was and that caused constant tension between us).
I know who I am around you. My carefully manufactured, deliberately manifested masculinity suddenly has a purpose, a function, a use, and it excites you, makes you cry out and give in and let go, turns you on. My gestures are held by you, witnessed, caught gently and cradled, and oh my god thank you for that.
This dynamic runs deep in me. Who knows why – nature, nurture, socializing, fetish. I need it, ache for it, me a teenaged pretty-boy (you say), you a powerful goddess. And you must know I never use words like goddess to describe women (too cliché, too overused) but yes that really is what I mean here: magical, strong, miraculous, seductive, creational.
I was made against you. I can think of a couple of you specifically against whom I break and become myself: Callie. DateDyke. Muse. Strong enough to catch me, strong enough to let me sharpen myself against you.
And it is this power that scares me, that now brings these feelings of mistrust. Because I love this dynamic so much, fetishize it even, it touches deep primal nerves in me. I become carried by it and have trusted it – the dynamic – more than I trusted the person. I let her use her femme-ness to get what she wanted, I let her use beauty, seduction, soft skin and flirty submissive eyes. I watched it, I even knew what was going on, and I let it happen anyway.
I know better now, I guess, I hope. I should pay attention to the red flags of constant “conflict,” I shouldn’t have gone to Mexico, I should’ve been more honest, I shouldn’t have fucked her if I didn’t have the aftercare in me.
I’ve said it before – it is one of my greatest flaws: I trust what people tell me. I am convincible.
There really are charms that only femininity, only femmes, only queer femmes who know how to treat sugarbutches like me, possess. Charms that unravel me deeply, that pull me apart. When it’s good, it clears out the cobwebs, shines light into every dark corner, exposes all the cracks and flaws and structures that hold me up, and then, even, fixes them, or attempts to. I am made more whole, more complete. When it’s bad, I have been destroyed foundationally, or attempted to be. Piece by piece picked off and explained in a new way that suited her. My dick in a mason jar under a sink, punished. My every action her fist closed tight around.
It is good I am strong. I come from a strong family who gets along, a queer lineage of kisses, teachers who respected and taught me, who sheltered me and pushed me hard, who said I was worth something, who said we all are, who said stories of marginalized groups and communities must be told, who said I could and should change the world, who said I could do anything, who encouraged me to come alive, who said they liked what I had to say. And I have this place – this personal writing project I refuse to call a “blog” because it is so much more than that, it is revolution, it is community, it is self-awareness and witness and a very lighthouse.
I have built up these tools around me so I don’t fall prey to this problem of trusting femmes. It is because femmes are who I love, who I partner with, for whom I deeply ache that they are capable of such unraveling. If I partnered with butches it would be a problem trusting butches, if I partnered with straight boys or trans women or blondes or tennis players it would be a problem trusting them. And perhaps this is why women as a whole – and femininity – are seen as untrustworthy, sneaky, manipulative in our culture: because men – hetero men – are the ones who partner with this, and men are the ones who have held the pens to write our histories, to write their great love stories, which have involved many broken hearts and many malicious women, because love is scarce and precious and delicate.
Femmes are not untrustworthy. Femmes are who I trust the very most, with whom I make the very most sense, with whom I am more myself than anywhere else.
I am scared, and skeptical, about what it may mean for me to trust, to explore, especially around the specific ways that I can lose my head in this dynamic. It’s new to me, and it affects me deeper than any relationship ever has – I’ve never lost myself so completely in a lover before. So now comes the fusion: the combination of the intense, passionate sexual dynamic that comes with gender play, and the knowledge of relationship tools that I have been collecting and building upon since I began dating fifteen years ago (half my life, now. Amazing). I have the support, the community, the friends, the knowledge, the inner strength.
Bring it on.
… When you’re single and you’ve finally made it past the age when you’ve felt both love’s deepest tongue probings and also its most random horror-flick slashings, past the age when getting moronically drunk every weekend and hooking up is the ultimate goal, and you’ve had enough sex to fill a thousand porn movies, and everyone around you is no longer on some sort of giddy, wide-eyed first-adult-relationship must-get-married must-have-babies track of impossibly optimistic utopian desire, what it means, at least for me, is that you get to become this odd sort of sounding board — a blank slate of love’s warped potential, a reason for others to extrapolate on the nature of love and life and sex and how goddamn difficult/ wonderful/impossible it all really is.
– Mark Morford, How to Get Your Love On
that I love freely and with dangerous abandonthat I fall in love at least twelve times a day – sometimes with the same person, sometimes each one is different
that love is a choice and must continue to be chosen in order to sustain
that love and sex are not for procreation or recreation, but for concentration – because there are just too many people in the world*
that divinity is within us, and accessed through practices of loving
that I am at my best when I am naked laughing with you
that I am trusting, sometimes to a fault
that I am fiercely loyal
that I believe in romance like a religion and will gladly offer prayer every time I see the edges of you blur a little bit
that sex play is always of the highest priority, and I will always be late, sleep in, and skip obligations for it
that I have never seen anything more gorgeous than you are right now**
that I live in my heart, nestled down into each chamber with a different story to tell and a different wisdom to hear
that I love too hard too fast too soon, but that is the only way I know how to fall
that most of us have unlearned the innate impulse of how to let the soft animals of our bodies love what they love***
that nothing is forever, but if we can bend together to time’s winds, we can weather anything
that I don’t really know what I’m doing or how any of this works, but I think I’m pretty neat, and I trust my strengths and virtues and vices to carry me through all of these paths that I am walking
that love is never permanent, but it changes me every single fucking beautiful time
* the film “opposite of sex”
** poet andrea gibson
*** poet mary oliver