An Erotic Memoir explores the power of desire to shape a life.
This is not a work of fiction. Some names have been changed.
I could say we failed because of the twenty-five years of life that separated us, but really it was that I was lesbian, and she was not. She was a millennial with aspirations of sexual freedom. She thought she could decide who she was. She called herself “pan,” and I took her at her word.
After all, at twenty-five, what did I know about myself? I had married a man and was pre-med. A decade later, I was a classicist and married to a woman. A decade after that, I was a programmer, married to a man. After yet another decade, I was a personal trainer and dating women. I once thought I was in control of my desire.
I met her at a Fetlife event. She was amazingly uninhibited, performing nude at the hands of an older man who demonstrated caning techniques. I watched, finding joy in every movement of her body. When they opened the demonstration to the audience, some offered to be whipped, but I wanted to whip her. It was the only way I would ever touch her. Though she took pleasure from the pain, I didn’t like putting bruises on her tender skin. I saw her later that day with her clothes on and told her I appreciated her generosity in participating. She looked me up online and asked me out. Things escalated quickly.
As an author, I focus on power relationships because I love the emotional dynamics, the needfulness and pleasure found at both ends. I think that’s why I’ve always found real-life fetish experiences lacking. Role playing dilutes the thing it claims to celebrate. Real power arises from personality not props. Real power belongs to the one with less need. That was her.
We lasted as long as we did because she fit a familiar pattern. She wasn’t the first woman I helped heal who then returned to men. Self-hatred and self-doubt fill the souls of women in this patriarchy of ours. There have been times in my life when I felt men were my enemy, but they are just the competition. As a woman who passionately loves women, I’m always forgetting those desires aren’t common. Most women prefer men.
She doesn’t call herself pan anymore. I get it. What good are labels, anyway? The labels I have for myself rarely match those others assign to me. I’m a suburban soccer mom. I’m a polyamorous bisexual. I’m a dyke. I’m old. I’m just old.
I could say she was another bad decision in a life of bad decisions, but it wouldn’t be true. I loved her.