Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Cages

When I moved to the city of Detroit back in the mid-nineteen-eighties, I was twenty-one and didn’t know a soul. I’d moved to attend graduate school, though, and from long experience I knew the easiest way to make new friends in a university setting was to hang out in the graduate library restrooms with my pants around my ankles and my mouth ready to suck cock beneath the stalls.

And that’s exactly how I got my first ‘boyfriend’ in the city that would prove to be my home for the next quarter-century. I’m using quotes around the word because it was a one-sided relationship. The guy wanted me to be his boyfriend. I just wanted him to fuck me. I know, I know, that sounds callous, but the fact is that the guy already had a long-term boyfriend at the time. He owned a home with a guy that he’d been involved with for several years. They had two dogs. He was unhappy in the relationship and said he wanted out, but I suspected, and I think he knew in his heart that it would take several more years for that to happen.

In the meantime, I wasn’t willing to be called a boyfriend by someone who was already attached, and especially to someone with whom I had lousy sex. Oh yeah. The sex was lousy.

I met Tom in the second-floor library men’s room near the periodicals. For a couple of years this out-of-the-way restroom was the hottest place on campus to get dick. The stairwell was quiet, so that you could hear from quite a distance anyone who happened to be approaching. Though the restroom was only a two-seater, it was U-shaped in layout, so that anyone walking in wouldn’t immediately be granted a view of everything going on there. There was a strategically-placed mirror above the sink so that someone sitting in the first stall could see quite plainly the faces and build of anyone walking in. And best of all, there was a huge, inch-and-a-half-wide gap in the first toilet on the side where the partition met the brick wall, right at about the spot where one’s knees would be when sitting down, so that anyone walking in could look through and see if the guy inside the stall was masturbating.

I liked the gap because when I occupied the stall (and I often occupied that stall for hours at a time) if the guy walking in was an ugly troll, I could just close my legs and lean forward and obscure any sign of my goodies. If he was hot—and the men who knew of that restroom usually were—I could just sit back and stroke and see if the guy showed any interest at the flash of big hard young dick that he couldn’t miss as he passed by.

And Tom was hot. He was a tall black man with a muscular build who not only craned his head as he walked by me stroking, but stopped to put his eye to the partition gap and check me out. Given that encouragement, I didn’t even bother to wait until he was in the other stall. I didn’t need to toe-tapping to confirm his interest. I opened the stall door, stood up, and let him look me over. He made me turn around and show him my ass—which excited me, since I was still mostly bottom then. He ran his hands over my skinny white boy ass, made sounds of appreciation, and then suggested that we go to a quiet spot he knew where he could, and I quote, “fuck the shit out of me.”

This is pretty much where things went off the rails with Tom and me. If I’d just sucked him off or bent over for him right there and then, I’d probably have a hot memory of a one-time thing with a good looking dude. But no, he convinced me to follow him to his car, where he drove us both to Henry Ford Hospital, less than a mile away. Tom was in his final year of residency there at the time, it transpired. Somehow he managed to get me into the area of the hospital where the male residents slept, changed, and bathed, where we drew the curtains to a shower stall and got naked together.

I know that the setup sounds hot as hell. It really wasn’t. The library restroom was at least quiet. We could’ve fucked there uninterrupted. Trying to fuck in the resident’s changing rooms was like trying to fuck on Sixth Avenue during the Macy’s parade. Guys kept coming in and out. Someone was snoring from a cot at the end of the hallway. Two residents had a lengthy conversation about their girlfriends over the tops of two other showers. A janitor came in to mop out the area. Anyone and everyone in the hospital trooped through that shower room during the hour we were trapped in that shower. The only thing missing was a Volkswagen full of clowns.

Finally we reclaimed our clothing and tried to take it to a toilet stall. I’d long before lost the urgency and lust that had made me attracted to Doctor Tom in the library, and by the time he bent me over the toilet and worked his dick into me, what I was feeling was more along the lines of impatience and shame.

The fact, racial stereotypes aside, that he had one of the world’s tiniest dicks didn’t help. Nor the fact that his idea of fucking the shit out of me was to insert himself, wiggle around for two or three minutes, then pull out his dick and cum a quarter-teaspoon of semen into his palm.

Doctor Tom was friendly, though, and for two or three weeks I let him take me out. He introduced me to the food phenomenon that is the Detroit Coney Island—basically a hot dog on a bun covered with chili and onions. He toured me around some landmarks I’d never before seen. And he introduced me to the hobby of salvaging. But one of the other reasons I didn’t want to be his boyfriend was that I found him sexually controlling, and not in the fun way. When I’d show up to meet him, he would reach down my pants and squeeze my testicles, hard. It wasn’t a show of dominance, or anything, but a masturbation check.

It was a scientific fact, he told me, that it was possible to tell by the density of a man’s testicles if he’d masturbated in the previous twenty-four hours. If they were hard and tough, they hadn’t shot sperm. If they were softer and larger, the subject had shot a load. I kind of resented the fact that this (already committed) man was trying to control the frequency of my masturbation—which was really none of his fucking business. I also had a sense that if he was this controlling so early in the relationship, it certainly was unlike to get any better as it went on.

Salvaging, though. I’d never heard about it before, but there were plenty of people in the Detroit area who indulged in it. The city was a nasty mess when I moved there. (And not much better when I left.) Blocks upon blocks of neighborhoods were nothing but empty and abandoned houses, lying in ruin. A lot of these homes had been crap to begin with, but in the older sections of Detroit were some formerly very grand estates that had gone to ruin. Many of them had the austere and haunted quality of old castles, gutted and left exposed for decades.

Doctor Tom always carried a toolbox and crowbar in the back of his car. Late at night, he and I would drive through neighborhoods where vagrant fires smoldered unchecked, under freeway bridges where the homeless slept behind shopping carts, through neighborhoods where the weeds in every direct grew shoulder-high. He’d select a home, park his car a distance away, and then the two of us would creep toward it. Brandishing crowbars and flashlights, we’d walk through these deserted stretches of inner city blight, disappear through the weeds onto the appointed property, and then carefully, very slowly, work our way through the house.

This was totally illegal, of course. If we’d been caught, we would’ve been fined for trespassing, or charged with burglary, or worse. At the time, the city was the murder capital of the world. Dead bodies were found in these houses all the time. The floors were rotted, the staircases dangerous. But oh, the riches one could find in these old houses, if one knew how to look.

I knew one salvager years later who’d managed to pry out an entire Pewabic ceramic fireplace from a ruined home. I knew a couple of others who had gotten gorgeous leaded glass windows, or elaborate plaster fixtures. Doctor Tom had never found anything so grand or so intact, but he did have most of a chandelier he’d salvaged before meeting me in his garage. On the three or four occasions he took me with him, the most he found were a few antique light switch covers and a glass doorknob. After creeping through these abandoned spaces, I would stand by and hold the flashlight steady as I watched him pry off his desired prize. Then we’d run back to his car, giddy, scared, and pulses racing.

It was my last salvaging trip with Doctor Tom of which I was reminded recently, though. It was the next-to-last date I had with him at all, because after that, I simply told him I couldn’t see him any more. We were in a terrible neighborhood east of downtown on a night that was so radiant with moonlight that we didn’t need our flashlights, even inside the gothic revival house to which Doctor Tom had led us. The upper floor of the house had suffered a fire at some point. On that dark and moonlit night, the faint tickle of rancid old smoke made our progress across the litter-strewn first floor an even more foreboding affair.

The place had been more or less picked clean. Some enterprising salvager had removed a good deal of the hardwood flooring from the dining room, so that when we looked through where double doors had once been, we could see straight into the dirt-floor basement. The fireplace was brick, so that was no good. Even the copper wiring had been pulled from the walls. The stairs were fairly sturdy, though, so we went up to the second floor very carefully, to see what might be up there.

And that’s when we stumbled into the room. A corner of it was open to the elements, burned away by fire and worn by weather and winters. There was moonlight enough, though, to show us what a grand parlor it must once have been; the wallpaper remaining was elaborately printed and gave the impression of flocking. There was no furniture left. Nothing on the wall save a thick and almost phosphorescent accumulation of bird poop in the corner that was open to the sky. It was a crisp December evening and I remember being able to see my breath curl in lazy whorls in front of me. When I followed their journey upward, I saw the cages hanging overhead.

Bird cages. Large ones. At least seven or eight of them. They’d been suspended from hooks in the tall ceiling, and were high enough that only the most determined salvager would ever attempt to claim them. Doctor Tom took a look at them and wrinkled his nose; they were no good anyway, he declared. All the cages had their doors open; one of them had either decayed in a strange manner or gotten tangled in its chain and hung at a distinct angle. None of them were entirely intact. They all had absences where bars had once been before they’d turned to dust. On the floor, in the exposed corner, I could see the remnants of a rusted cage mouldering away in pieces.

I turned. Doctor Tom stood inches away from me. “Drop your pants,” he whispered.

I obeyed.

He’d done this before when we’d gone salvaging. His dick seemed to get harder—and shoot even faster—when we were in a potentially dangerous situation like this, when we could be discovered by cops or the homeless or other enterprising Detroiters armed with a crowbar. His hands slid down the outsides of my thighs, and squeezed my balls. I resented his touch when he yanked at my testicles, testing them. But I bent over, and felt wetness against my hole, and then his cock inside me.

I reached out to brace myself against the wall. The whole house seemed to shift slightly when I did, and then the room was suddenly alight with motion and the heart-stopping noise of flapping wings. Neither of us had realized that the room was occupied by birds. In my crouching, bent-over position I looked up above me to see them stirring in the decaying cages.

A few woke up enough to flap with annoyance through the large gaps in their bars, or out the open cage doors to the exposed corner through which moonlight streamed. They were ghostly pale. Pigeons, probably. Doctor Tom didn’t seem to notice or care. He was too busy banging away, bringing himself to orgasm, paying no attention to me or the motion around him.

I looked up at the flurry, though, and listened to the birds’ subdued scolding. I turned my head as one returned from a perch on the ruined exterior and fluttered into a cage, then watched as it pulled its wings to itself and disappeared into sleep.

I remember thinking to myself with sudden clarity, When it has the freedom to fly anywhere, what kind of bird chooses a cage?

In large part, that moment is why I broke up with Doctor Tom, the next time I saw him.

Now that I’m older, I see we all choose our own cages. We cage ourselves in homes we can’t afford, in relationships we think hold us back. We cage ourselves in misery, and built bars of self-doubt around ourselves. We look for situations with walls to surround us, and a dome to keep us from flying, where we alight and pull the door to—and then we complain of our captivity.

But like the rusted contraptions I saw that night, hanging overhead like shadows in the moonlight, those cages are rarely fully intact. The doors are never tightly shut. We’ve merely forgotten that these coops are what we chose for ourselves because they’re familiar, they’re small, they’re contained.

What we need to remember is that just because something has the vague shape of a container never means that it is completely restricting. We need to remember how and when to fly.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The S

We’re two feet apart. Maybe three. I’m close enough to catch his scent, at any rate. Sharp. Sweet. Masculine. He’s dabbed on one of those high-end colognes that tickles the attention without theatrics. It makes me turn my head, check him out.

He’s a handsome devil, a mature guy with salt-and-pepper hair trimmed into a short, precision cut. A dark gray suit jacket hangs from his broad shoulders. Two buttons lie open on his slate-blue shirt; where one lapel overlaps the other, dark chest hair springs in abundance. He’s wearing a pair of jeans and shiny black shoes. Everything on him—the coat, the shirt, the denim—all looks freshly-pressed. It’s eight-thirty at night, and we’re standing in one of the busiest intersections of the MTA’s system of underground tunnels, and yet he looks like he’s just stepped out of a catalog.

The wait for the subway shuttle from Times Square to Grand Central separates real New Yorkers from the tourists. There are four tracks on the S line. The tourists stand along the length of Track 1, crowding between the pillars while they wait for the train to arrive from the other end of its short run. They watch the dancers who, even long past the peak rush hour, still caper and hold out their hats closer to the stairs by the downtown trains.

The locals, and those of us with a lot of experience with this particular route, stand above where the track ends. If the shuttle rattles in on Track 1, fine. We’re right by the first door. But if the subway cars round the curve on either of the far tracks, we’re in a position to take mere few steps around to the appropriate boarding place, while the tourists who’ve taken those attractive spots further away have to make a lengthy jog.

This guy knows the score. His eyes meet mine. Steel gray, they are. They match his hair. He looks me over, in my silly video game T-shirt, my leather jacket, my jeans and my sneakers. And he doesn’t dismiss me. We measure each other. Judge each other. Acknowledge each other for a fraction of a second, with lifted chins. Then we look away.

The breakdancers have attracted a crowd with their gyrations and their boombox. The man in the suit jacket stares across the station, pretending interest. While his sharp beak of a nose points in their direction, his athletic body is angled toward me. His hand drops to his waist; a thumb hooks into a belt so glossy it rivals the shine of his shoes. Then his fingers drop to the sizable bulge on his left side.

It’s thick, that bulge. I try to resist licking my chops when I see it, though I do suck in my lips and moisten them a little, unconsciously. His fingers casually rest along its side so that I can clearly see the length and thickness of it. Fuck, even soft I can almost make out the head, a soft flare beneath the dark blue denim where the tips of his well-kept nails run along the ridge.

He stops studying the dancers. My eyes flick up to his. Our glances lock with the finality of a deadbolt meeting its latch. He knows I’m watching.

I know he wants me to watch.

A few seasoned shuttle catchers hover near us at the track’s end. No one so much as meets an eye. Only he and I glance at each other, sharing our secret connection. It’s a strange city, Manhattan—where people are packed into small spaces, but pretend they’re not on top of each other. In any other American city, the space between this man and myself would be odd—too close, too intimate. Here, it’s what passes for normal. Practical. I could reach forward and touch him right now. My hand could easily swing out. The back of it could brush against that fat lump protruding next to his fly. In the blink of an eye I could even lay my palm on his chest, rest it atop that crisp cotton, and feel his heart beating beneath. No one would stop me.

But I just look. I keep my hands to myself, and watch his fingers scrape back and forth over the denim, and watch the lump swell and grow.

The next train will be departing from . . . Track 3, says a man’s jolly automated voice over the loudspeaker. Even before the tourists groan, those of us at the track’s end have already begun walking briskly to to the metal pillars in the station’s center. Further down and much farther away, the out-of-towners groan and begin to jog to catch up. The man moves first, looking sidelong at me before he departs. I’m on his heels, keeping him in my sights as the stream of departing shuttle riders push their way out of the train doors and scurry to their destinations. He and I slide into the first car. He stands in the closed door opposite. I lounge against the pole. And we wait while the train fills.

One of his hands casually holds the bar overhead. The other is back at his crotch. I make no shy pretense of looking away. I stare at it. I let my eyes caress that thick lump, where the flare is clearly defined now against the tight fabric. When he sees me staring, it fattens beneath his fingertips. He’s pointing at it, playing with it. Rubbing it. Letting me know it’s there. And he loves that I’m looking.

I turn my head, let it hang. I’m not even pretending to be discreet. No one around me notices. They’re too drawn into the invisible shells they’re erecting as the train grows more and more crowded. They’re staring up at the ads along the rooftop, or out at the breakdancers beyond the vanishing crowd.

I’m staring straight at the hardening cock of a man who looks like he’d be a mean fuck, once I stripped him out of those clothes.

The shuttle jolts to a start. It’s not a long ride between Times Square and Grand Central. I could probably have walked it in less time. We jostle back and forth, staring at each other. Halfway there, his own head drops. He tilts it sideways. Looks to my side, where my leather bag hangs. He’s checking out my ass. My own cock stiffens at the realization. I turn slightly. Show it to him. He recognizes what I’m doing. Nods. We don’t smile.

Over the loudspeaker, the conductor pronounces words that are intended to be Grand Central. They’re as indistinct as a teacher’s voice on a Charlie Brown special. The doors haven’t even hissed open before the crowd inside rushes for the doors, sweeping the both of us along. Even though I’m the tallest person in the crowd by a full head, and should be able to find him without problems, he’s short enough that for a moment, I lose sight of him. A moment is all it takes. There’s too much humanity surrounding the two of us, and even though I’m slowing down, trying not to separate myself too far from him—though what will I do? Share my phone number? Give him my name? Follow him?—he’s impossibly obscured.

I’m sure he’s behind me. I slow myself down even more. But no, there he is up ahead, his hands stuffed in his jeans as he turns around and cranes his neck to look at me. My feet automatically head toward the stairs up to Grand Central, where I can catch my commuter train to the suburbs. He’s obviously destined for the long corridor beneath the terminal that leads to the 6 line.

For a moment—just a moment—we both hesitate in our predetermined steps. We stop our feet on those everyday paths they’re used to treading. He looks at me from atop the ramp leading to the tunnel. I pause at the bottom of the stairs, my hand on the railing.

It’s a juncture in which we both measure the possibilities, weigh the options. For one split second in our two worlds, anything could happen. Heat could happen. Magic, even. All the commotion around me is muffled; I see nothing but him. The universe seems to catch its breath, and waits to see what the two of us might do.

Then someone jostles against him, pushing him forward. We’re flotsam in a river of men and women. In a rush of babble that seemed to have vanished only moments before, we let the currents carry us away from each other. Our feet stumble forward to reclaim their familiar routes.

But I smile at him before he disappears completely. I nod quickly, in thanks, in recognition. In gratitude, even. He nods back, and beneath that beak of a nose, his lips curl and soften.

What a moment, indeed.

Now, weeks later, I wonder if he also thinks back to that night beneath Times Square, and meditates on me, or on those prolonged seconds when the world hushed and came to a crawl as it waited for our decisions. I’ve certainly thought about him.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Reports of My Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

The third anniversary of my online blog has come and gone. It’s been more than a month since I last wrote about my life. I’ve been licking my wounds during those weeks. I won’t go into the details of why, exactly—but I will say that betrayal has left a very bad taste in my mouth. Even now, it’s difficult for me to muster up any enthusiasm to write.

When I started this blog, it was from a combination of lofty intentions and basic braggadocio. It seemed to me that remarkably few people were talking frankly and unabashedly about real sexual lives. There were a lot of blogs out there tallying loads collected at the bookstores, or that combined unlikely scenarios with cheap porn-movie dialogue. There were a lot of blogs that were simply collections of porn clips, or unerotic erotica based on some black-and-white photo of a shirtless stud. But thoughtful pieces of actual writing about real sex, with its joys and pitfalls and its awkwardnesses and its humorous moments were few and very far between.

I think that’s a pity. Cultures develop narratives about the acceptable lives that individuals can live within its confines, and it’s easy to play out our existences against prefabricated stage sets that have little to do with what our stories actually are at any given moment. Little straight boys and girls grow up with the notion that they’ll maybe lose their virginity at the age of eighteen when it’s perfectly legal and aboveboard, that they’ll have a couple of—but not too many—sexual encounters in their twenties within the context of steady dating, and that they’ll then meet the great love of their lives, with whom they’ll settle down forever in bliss and sexual exclusivity for the rest of their lives.

We all know it doesn’t happen like this. We come from families that are broken, that have divorces and affairs. We have parents who’ve cheated on each other, and brothers and sisters who are total whores before they settle down. We know of marriages with swingers, and couples who are open, or who’ve made their own arrangements that have little to do with antiquated notions of sexual fidelity. We know marriages that don’t last forever, or that dry up sexually, or that just should never have been attempted to begin with. We all know, on some level, that this standardized domestic narrative doesn’t always work. Maybe it doesn’t even often work.

And yet, when it doesn’t work for us, we torture ourselves because we’ve been carefully taught that they ought to. When they don’t, too many people don’t blame the unrealistic expectations of the narrative. We blame ourselves, and our own lacks.

For years gay men and women had to invent their own narratives; we weren’t discussed in the mainstream culture except as monsters, or as invisible creatures dwelling on the margins on society. But look at what’s happening to us now: there’s an expectation (formed just over the last ten years, but now accepted as cultural gospel) that all the gay boys want to settle down forever with a nice boy and adopt a pretty baby to dress up, and that all the gay girls want to find a nice lesbian to move in with after the second date. We’re expected to hold our breaths for every marriage equality debate. On television we used to be silly, sexless fairies. Now we’re silly, sexless married couples with infants. We’re being accommodated into the mainstream—even if it’s a mainstream narrative that doesn’t ring true for so many of us.

What happens to those of us with stories and experiences that in no way conform to the mainstream narrative we tell ourselves as a society is that we’re regarded at best as oddities. We’re exceptions. Freaks. At worst, we’re demons and monsters, trying to tear apart the fabric of polite society. Never mind, mind you, that if a heavenly apocalypse befell the earth and our souls and thoughts and deeds were laid bare by some godly archangel, the number of those who failed to deviate from the mainstream would be vanishingly small, and would consist only of the timid and the unimaginative.

Face it. We’re all freaks. We want to do things with our privates that our parents told us we shouldn’t. We fuck in the dark and pretend we didn’t by daylight. We keep our sex lives—our real sex lives, not the ones we pretend to have for the sake of our families and our reputations—mum. All because we’re too frightened to let anyone think we’re one of those people. A deviant. A freak.

Over the course of the years of my public blogging, I’ve had no problems talking about all kinds of things I’d never seen anywhere else. I’ve discussed my pubescent sexuality, my sexual assault, my love affairs—the ones genuinely involving love, that is. I’ve celebrated my strengths, like my ability to read men and their needs even better than they can sometimes read themselves. Like the sexual fearlessness that’s made my life a great adventure. Like my ability to put men at ease, and to give them not only what they think they want, but what they secretly crave and can’t bring themselves to express.

But among the sexy confidence I sometimes exude, I’ve also been remarkably forthright about my own faults and shortcomings. I’ve discussed incidents in which I flatly fell short of both my own expectations and those of my partners. I’ve talked about times I’ve let down friends, or failed to do the right thing. I’ve explored the times I was a disappointment. Rather than disguise these blemishes with paint or to leave them in the shadows, I’ve put my own imperfections squarely center stage and shone upon them harsh spotlights for my audience of millions—I regularly expose my own arrogance, my competitiveness, my short temper, my selfishness. I don’t pretend to be virtuous, by any means. I know, without need for readers to inform me via emails to my Manhunt or Adam4Adam accounts, that my ‘looks are not all that.’ I’ve never pretended I wasn’t susceptible to flattery, or that my vanity wasn’t the Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors, always demanding to be fed. I know these things. Because I present them to you, you know these things.

In return for rolling over and exposing my white, soft, lard-like underbelly, however, I’ve always assumed there was an implied contract with my readers. I’m offering this to you as a gift, I thought I was telling them. I’m revealing you so much of myself, good and bad, ugly and hot. And all I ask in return is that you treat these offerings, and the men involved, with a little respect, and not to trample upon them. I never expected reverence, or to be showered with compliments and gifts (though I’m craven enough to enjoy that when it happens). I don’t get fortune for it. I don’t get fame.

Over the three years I’ve kept this blog, I’ve found that I’ve gotten repaid sweetly and amply by the friendships I’ve made. There’ve been men I’ve met in person who are dear friends of mine. There are readers whose friendships were like summer wildflowers—blossoming for a time and then fading and blowing away at the end of a season. I’ve had beautiful boys and handsome men and wonderful women reach out to me with their stories and their photos, to let me know that they’re glad to have me in their lives.

That is wonderful. I love that every one of these remarkable people who recognize that everything I present to them is a gift not only from my loins, but from my heart. Thank you all, very deeply and sincerely.

There’s another brand of person, however, for whom everything is never enough. I serve them so much of myself, and they don’t respond with thanks. They don’t push their plate away when I’m done and declare they’re full. Instead, they sit there with knife and fork in hand, napkin tucked in their shirt collar, pounding their fists on the table and demanding more, more, more. It’s not enough to know my sexual secrets, my history, my disappointments and joys. The abundance I give doesn’t satisfy them. They demand more.

They pry. They snoop. They break open doors I’ve locked and root through closets I thought were sealed. And really, it’s not as if they use what they find in order to understand me better. They grub around so that they can find things that give them what they imagine is control over me. Dirty secrets of which they think I’m ashamed. (I’m probably not.) Inconsistencies that they imagine will bring my house of cards a-tumbling. (When basically, I’m just inconsistent.)

I am totally aware that I am displaying the typical grandiose paranoia associated with most of the songs on sophomore albums released by former boy band members, but damn, bitch, when you’re all famous ’n’ shit, everybody want a piece of you, yo.

But seriously. When I encounter situations in which these people to get out of control, I find them draining. They suck my attention, and my energy. For the last month, one situation in particular has just left a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to my blog.

I want to enjoy writing again. I’ve got no bombastic delusions that what I do here is akin to Proust, or alternately is the Lord’s work. But in a landscape in which the frigid gyrations of Fifty Shades of Grey is what passes for wildly erotic, or real bloggers are trying to pass off awkward fantasies as anyone’s actual sex life, I think there’s a need for real voices talking about real sex lives—about real feelings.

If I’ve had a mission statement all along, it’s been to get down to the core of my encounters, past and present, and isolate those elements that make them important. I’ve wanted to preserve those sweet moments, the memories of which make life worth living during dark, cold days. The absurdities, the funny quirks that make an encounter more than just another load. Everything that elevates animal copulation into human intimacy—those are the things that are important to me.

Not caring enough to write about them—which is the pit in which I’ve been nursing my bruises for the last month—has just about killed me.

To those of you who were concerned enough over the last few weeks to reach out and ask if I’m okay, I offer my thanks. I’ll try to respond to those emails personally in the coming days. (Okay, let’s be honest. It’ll be weeks.)

I’m tiptoeing back into the waters, here. I can’t guarantee I’ll have the stomach to resume at the same vigor or frequency as before, but I think that as touch-and-go as it was for a while there, I’ve managed to convince myself that writing here is something I find worthwhile.

Convincing myself, I’ve found, is usually the biggest hurdle.