Experiencing my local kink community as I have been for the last few years has been a venture. I've learned so many new things: about my friends, about my surroundings…about myself.
The adventure isn't over. If life is a journey, the Scene is a corn maze straight out of a Harry Potter book, full of twists and turns, jaw-dropping horrors, and wonderful surprises. You learn very quickly that the size of the cane has little to do with the magic it can wield over your flesh, different wizards and witches are experts at casting different spells…and not everyone out there is fighting on the side of good.
Some things you learn through epiphany, and some lessons take a long, slow process. It took me a while to understand I am not, in fact, a masochist. What I like is the fact that I do not like pain. I enjoy the suffering, the struggle, the fight to break through. I enjoy the sounds of my own screams inside my head.
Most of all, I enjoy suffering for the people I care about.
When I look back at my first foray into the Scene, yes, I went through my own period of sub-frenzy. But I still wouldn't let just anyone touch me; I watched the Sadists at work, I learned their technique, and I made careful choices whom I allowed to mark up my skin.
All those people I met at the beginning of my journey are still my friends. Some of them are incredibly close friends, but they are all near and dear to my heart.
I've become pickier in recent months whom I play with. This, I think, is a healthy change for me. I get to know my partners first; I make sure they are the kind of people I need them to be to trust them with my body.
And no, I'm not so naive as to think you can always know everything about your partner before you play. It's an unfortunate fact that some people can hide their demons and sociopathic propensities really, really well.
And, like everyone, I have things I can forgive, and things I can't.
But I'm better able to recognize when the right chemistry is there. Because when it comes right down to it, the chemistry has to be there. I need to want to engage a person in play—not just any play, but my kind of play.
Recently I read a piece of writing somewhere on Fetlife that compared a BDSM dynamic to a dance. You have a lead, you have a follow, you have the music they both move to…and you have the dance. It was a great piece of writing.
An important point to remember is, we are not all in a dance class. We get to choose our partners. For me, personally, I've learned that it's not enough for the chemistry to be there for the dance to be good; the chemistry has to be there for the dance to happen at all.
The great news is that I've learned how to "spot the chemistry" fairly quickly. The bad news is that it hits me hard sometimes, from people I wouldn't normally expect, and in surprising situations.
Some Doms and Masters have the great physique, the chiseled face with the wicked smile and furrowed brows, they know what they're doing, they've been doing it for years…but when I look into their eyes, I feel nothing. No desire to push their buttons, "see what they've got," ask them to play…no desire to ask them to dance. Nothing.
And then there are the guys who don't have the "Dom look," who have the gentle smile and the warm handshake, who aren't really experts at any technique or tool…but when they look at me, look into my eyes, I see it there, glimmering behind the light, that need, that hunger of the beast, the intoxicating beauty and brilliance of the animal within.
I see the challenge…and if I'm lucky, the invitation.
Even if I do sense the invitation, I don't always respond. Chemistry is a good starting point, but it isn't enough; like I said, I need to get to know the person first.
And sometimes, circumstances just aren't right. I was at a conference a while ago where I met a Master and his slave. Our meeting was brief, unplanned, and unexpected. (These kinky conferences are full of unexpected encounters; that's a significant part of the fun—meeting new people.) We both already had plans for the night. We really didn't have time for anything other than a short conversation.
But the pull I got from him, the adrenaline rush he got out of me, the hum and throb of the chemical release he injected into my blood stream with just a brief look, a crooked smile pointed in my direction…it was amazing.
I think about him now and then.
I don't know if I'll ever see him again.
Sometimes you slip by, and the beast doesn't see you. Sometimes the beast drifts away, without you noticing it.
But maybe I was wrong: maybe The Scene isn't a corn maze. Maybe it's a forest, full of dark, scary, and wonderful creatures…and sometimes, by the light of the moon and the scent on the wind, we find each other.
We find each other, and we play.