I have not had very many words to say about workshops I have attended in the past. And that is understandable. When one puts one’s consciousness as completely as possible into one’s whole body, it becomes difficult for the mind and the tongue to find a language that does any justice to the experience. For the first week after I returned, I found myself desperately needing the company of other people – the right kinds of people. But the words that kept coming out of my mouth seemed to lack a certain quality. Instead, I asked for hugs and got them. When I usually, at least in my heart, brush away my mother’s affection, I found myself welcoming her openly. It is hard for me to accept affection from someone who thinks I’ve got something wrong with me. Who thinks I went to a women’s studies un-conference because that was the only thing I could think to tell her that would keep her from asking too many questions. We had a conversation about how she believes in women’s rights (though she may disagree in some ways about what those rights ought to be), and feels strong in her own way. We connected on some shaky common ground, but I’ll take that over nothing any day. My first day back, I had to work. I barely kept myself together. The second day, it snowed and the shops were closed and I spent the entire day resting, reflecting and trying to prep myself for four consecutive nine-hour days on my feet. It wasn’t until last Monday, after surviving four extremely busy days at the shop, that I felt mostly back to normal. Really, this past Thursday was the first day that I felt like I had fully recovered.
Thursday – 28 February
Thursday morning I awoke to a phone whose back and home buttons were not responding, so any time I needed to go to a different screen I had to reboot my phone. The message was loud and clear! Cell phone time was to be forcibly limited this weekend. I didn’t leave my house until mid-afternoon, which meant that I wasn’t going to get to DC-ish until quite late in the evening. The friend I was staying with, Janie, had participated in a christian missionary training program with me in my (our) former life. Since it was getting late, we started to catch up by phone while I was traveling up through Virginia. For the most part, no one from that place has any concept of all the changes that I have made over these past seven years. In some ways I lead a little bit of a double life, though I hope that is changing. It probably should not have taken me this long to be comfortable with the idea of sharing the “real” me with Janie, but she and her husband live in a DC suburb that was a perfect stopping point on my drive to Philadelphia and the perfect opportunity for us to dwell in one another’s company for a little while. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen each other in seven years, but when we met up in 2010, I don’t remember touching on gender and sexuality at all, except for coming out as a lesbian (at the time). This time, even though we stayed up talking on the couch until after 3:30 in the morning, we barely scratched the surface! Janie is probably the only person from my entire missionary experience who will ever accept me completely and in full knowledge of where I came from and where I am now. I think we have a lot more in common than we know, even now. She is an ally of the highest value.
Friday – 1 March – Driving to Philly
Since Janie had arranged to come into work a couple of hours late, we were spared from waking up with the dawn. We got our coffee, got my stuff back out to the car and headed into the city. You know, I’ve been to a lot of places, but I have not done a lot of touristy sight-seeing. I am usually more interested in experiencing the hum drum daily beat of an unfamiliar city. I have seen the Statue of Liberty from a Super Shuttle van twice and the Golden Gate Bridge from a bus station in San Francisco. I’ve crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, but it was whizzing by so fast I didn’t really get to take it all in. The story is similar for Washington, DC. I drove by the Pentagon and the Capitol building, saw the back side of the Lincoln Memorial – indeed it was impossible to miss the Washington Monument. Janie pointed out all of these to me, in addition to the National Cathedral across the DC cityscape. But I never parked and got out and walked around. Monuments and bridges and statues are cool, but still, as always, I was more attentive to the things that were alive and buzzing with electricity in between all of those inanimate objects, I was mesmerized by the synchronized swimming of the people and cars along busy channels. After dropping Janie off at work, I drove around a bit more, then decided to go back out to the suburbs to clean out my car and make it presentable before going back into DC to pick up passengers. Oh, passengers, you say? Yes! Strangers, in fact! Surely they are the most adorable, darling and precious people I have ever met all at once in my entire life. I’ve met one such person, or maybe two at a time, but never three in the span of about 20 minutes! Each one is totally unique and powerful and colorful and bright and warm and I am the luckiest, absolutely the luckiest femme, possibly in the entire world. The drive to Philadelphia took longer than expected by about 1.5 hours, partially thanks to the fact that it was someone’s idea to put four submissive femmes in a car together and give them a task – one task! – get to the workshop as close to on time as possible! We should have written a one-act comedy about the process of figuring out who was toppy enough to be in charge. After sharing our names and pronouns, each person talked about all the things in their lives that lead up to being in a stranger’s car on the way to an erotic bodywork weekend intensive three to four states away. It’s hard not to be friends once we find out where we overlap.
After having been stuck out in the middle of nowhere, the only queer person that I knew of, for eight months… after that kind of solitary confinement, largely deprived of cuddles and the company of other people who get it… I was dizzy with the joyful closeness that had begun developing during our drive. It was almost too good. Now, home in the mountains, I am desperately feeling the lack of their presence. Though we’ve all been in communication over the past two weeks, and we even had a video chat, the reality of what I have come back to is so, so heavy.
This is going to take several long posts, but I’d really like to share it with all of you. It goes into my journal first, then gets translated into blog-appropriate format and content. That’s why it has taken 2 weeks to get through the first 24 hours of a five day trip. By the time I finish writing about this, it will probably be time for CBE in Atlanta. Won’t you come with me? I’ll never tell you it’s easy, but it’s so worth it. If you are thinking about it, please e-mail me, or call me or text or talk to me in the quiet of your heart until the words are finally ready to be spoken. I will be listening for the first whisper.