There is a point of comparison between how the safe drama of BDSM and ,the shockingly intense effect a pandemic both weigh on a relationship. One comes from a place of fundamentally healthy intensity, the other forces you to find something to cling to that’s good feeling, just to stop the inherent emotions of a crisis from making you crack. Add the first burning flare of a new relationship and it’s been months of yearning. It’s been a year.
Oh my god, it’s been a year.
We’ve gone from from first kisses at midnight and taking travel for granted, to leaping through hoops to even get to hold hands. I’m writing this in the melancholy cloud of self pity that comes from not getting to spend our One Year Anniversary (TM) together in person. But there’s a certain awareness that at least I have the capacity, despite all this distance, despite getting my own go with Covid, to feel something close to blessed.
Blessed is an odd word, since how we casually use it mostly means fortunate. I don’t think there’s a deity giving out favours, but I can see how when things feel unfair in your favour it is more comforting to believe it. In our case, Silver and I are fortunate in two senses, that he is the one I get to miss so very painfully, and that I get to miss him like this. Not everyone gets even what we have.
Not that I expected it same time last year, but let’s do a retrospective of how we got here: From scratching an itch with a cute sub guy, to deciding there was a pretty good body of evidence this might be my Person.
I thought fretting if I was rebounding after a break up in 2019 was going to be my biggest pathos. I though Silver was Mr. What I Needed Right Now, and I’d work the rest out later. At the time, and you can see it documented month over month, I figured slow was better. At the best of times I am good at feeling things hard, and I wanted to be careful with my heart. I mapped out a month by month calendar of careful escalations. But, people plan, and God laughs, so the saying goes. My commitment to the Aesthetic has nothing on the adaptions we must put love to, to live in and with a pandemic.
And I think of the sentiment, the impacts we put of old concepts: Dating. Courting. Love letters. Shame. Adventure. Simplicity.
I already mentioned that Covid had a sort of time machine effect on relationships, so I suppose I expand on that point. For good or for ill, this has been a ridiculously romantic situation. I don’t mean to say that the sufferings of billions is my immature backdrop. This is no renting an antebellum plantation so the columns will look good in your wedding photos.
This is romantic in the sense that the obstacles add a conflict you have to face together. Where everything is a monumental struggle, so the least bit of your efforts to reach each other has all the more impact. And it’s a lot of yearning, and time to think about missing them.
I wish I had saved the origin, but in the ship wars that spill over into Twitter, a fragment of an argument slipped past: Romantic, in fiction, isn’t actually the model of what a relationship should be, it’s drama. Drama necessarily mean a certain degree of angst, discomfort and pathos. Stick “Grand” in front of the word “Romance” and you probably can guarantee deadly peril too.
In this pandemic, everyone flails around for a story to make sense of it. The Spanish Flu and the Blitz are popular. Sometimes we trot out war metaphors from other conflicts. I see the point, to a degree. I had not expected food shortages, sheltering in place or blocked travel would be part of my adulthood. I hadn’t expected to get sick in a pandemic, though I suppose I assumed there would eventually be some acute calamity or another. I just thought it was going to be a natural disaster or a personal crisis. My imagination stretching to earth quakes and car crashes, not long, long months of nothing to do while everything happened.
Covid, ultimately, is going to be Covid, in the stories after this. We’re nowhere near out, with it’s long tail aftershocks on the economy predeicted to last long after we are all hopefully stabbed twice and set back out into the working world. But, for now it’s the older meaning of the term “romance” we seek comfort in, meaning a story, often grand in scope.
I am sure it wasn’t Tolkien’s Hobbit that made participating-under-protest Bilbo the first hero self aware of the unpleasantness of the practical details of adventure. Nonetheless, the Hobbit and it’s titular species are the lives of most of us. Sure we have personal pains, but most of us go out of our way to avoid anything epic, because we are not self destructive.
And yet, in the awful can we farm a lot of just plain awe.
We are all aware of the fact that bad things breed good chemistry. The shared experience of suffering, even ritual and light suffering, bonds you to new friends and compatriots fast. Much has been said of the addictive nature of rollercoaster relationships, no matter how much they tend to behave a lot more like steamrollers to our lives and real happiness. So, what about the inherent drama of kink?
I believe that one facet of BDSM’s appeal is putting that lightening in a bottle. Like taking up sword fencing or tae kwan do, or immersing yourself in a nice novel, you get all the advantages and high energy of what would be bad otherwise, and none of the messes. A beating ends with check ins and aftercare. A scene almost always begins with both parties having the understanding of the ride the are on and where it is going. BDSM relationships really don’t get much worse than vanilla ones can, but can have a significant uplift than the alternative.
Perversity breeds a language for obsession, foreplay for days, and investment. I know a lot more kinky folks who are REALLY into their partners and the relationship itself, than vanilla couples. (I think people who are living a $Religion Lifestyle are the only ones I see otherwise so reliably obsessed in building a big thing off being together)
Now try being kinky, dating with a lot of firsts that are symbolic even for vanilla folks, and then have a pandemic crash through your world.
Let us be clear, in these times I exist in a position of relative safety and advantage. I survived Covid with only mild respiratory damage. Silver and I work from home, and live a not unreasonable commute from the only easy to reach neutral ground between our nations in the world. We even managed a visit in October, because I could afford a $250 flight and a $60 uber, where I plucked his technical virginity.
After, I confided that I had not expected it to impact me as much, to feel so bonded. I had lost my own technical virginity with the speed and enthusiasm of a teen breaking in her first pair of Doc Martens. Literally. I snapped my hyman like I was trying to make something transform from painful and chafing, to the badge of experience and the power I wanted fucking to symbolize. Control. Freedom. Artificially extended childhood through “purity”, as the larger body of adults recommended, constricted.
So it was bewildering to feel something a little more real just from popping a little rubber bag on his cock and making him ejaculate inside me. And it was reassuring to be told that he also felt like something relevant had passed between us. Uh, did True Love really wait? Snrk.
I love him, rather intensely. Did I mention that?
In November, after passing quarantine confinement for the first part, we made a last pilgrimage to the Peace Arch. The sky, which had turned Cascadia grey by my return home from Washington and dumped water daily, gave us a break for one perfect Friday afternoon.
Understand, of course that this park meeting would be unthinkable if we didn’t lead very constricted lives. Numbers of infections are watched in British Columbia and Washington. Even so, this was the tail of the year, with few leaves in the trees and the earth even more muddy than our first May meeting. And the park had only a few well swaddled few, more border guards than guests.
These days, there’s a significant pressure, and for good reason, to be as good as possible. The intimacies of my picnics feel as daring as the carnality of my sex life, if not more so. I worry that I made my calculations wrong. I worry that if I tell you, even here in a fairly shielded sex blog I will end up earning some sort of scarlet C. And guilt too, because some people don’t have a means to see the one they love at all. And woven into this shame, is a sort of awareness of the larger struggles from time past.
So much hope and want, all poured into one thermos!
I made oxtail soup from scratch in my roomate’s instant pot. Simple, carrots, celery and onion, the latter diced nice and fine, and a little tomato paste and herbs from the last on my balcony. I wrapped the thermoses in a pretty tea towel, making the most simple thing we were stuck with as special as I could. He brought pumpkin pies capped with Chantilly cream, rich and perfect. After the bandstand proved occupied by one of the few other people (the seemed to be doing some sort of group therapy), we stole away to make a plastic tablecloth and blanket nest at the door of the little building that serves as a kitchen-for-rent in better days.
I wish I could tell you of some great erotic secret game we played, but the truth was I had a migraine that made me ache until he began to stroke along my back and neck. Though there was more than captured kisses, there wasn’t the full lavished torments to the degree we sometimes do.
The truth is that I’d seen that arch that’s a monument to our respective nation’s diplomatic peace a good dozen times now, and until now I though it was trite and over stated. It’s League of Nations styled optimism that the First World war got it out of our system at long last, refreshed just this year with new white paint on a hulking structure that’s too public to pretend its a lost gate to Narnia, or some such. But there, framed by trees shedding their last leaves, and cuddled close against the wind, the fact that the gate was essentially closed hurt. It was a family heirloom you took for granted as “that old thing” now pawned, or lost in a fire.
Here we were, almost quaint enough to make the most Family Values oriented elder cluck indulgently at us. This picnic was all we had. Sure, I wanted him back in a rubber bondage sack with his hard cock peeping, and every fiber of his being focused on what I might do next, but it’s going to take either great age or a traumatic brain injury to make me forget that afternoon.
The soup arrived still so hot it burnt my tongue, but I want to make it again. And I can’t tell you if the pumpkin tarts were the best I have ever had, or if that was the moment’s energy giving them the flavour, but ultimately, if my meat prison is giving me intense happiness in a pile of things I would have previously thought were mundane, I will take it.
We hoped hard, in a few weeks, things might stay as easy as they had in October and maybe, just maybe, one more meeting to end the year. One more hand on throat, midnight kiss to seal 2020 with the same hope we entered it with.
The panedemic got worse, of course. We know, you’re reading it with me. The optimism that I had thought perhaps to risk an imprudent NYE rendez vous all abated. I MISS HIM. I won’t see him or hold him or pin him in place and hurt him for months.
The park’s awash in the sky’s further blessings: wet snow, and here I am making a tearful record. I shan’t fill his ass with anything, but toys at my direction. I have to reassure my beautiful, perfect man that my crying isn’t some ill he did me, but the awareness of wanting.
And the pictures we send back, well, his pale face and perfect dark blue eyes have a little sad. The hair he grew out long enough to yank will have its trim. I suspect he just packed the bounty of gifts he wanted to get me into a big box an freighted it to me, instead of getting to watch as I blushed redder and redder at each unwrapping and put kisses on his neck to hide my face.
There’s a rubber armbinder still in tissue, waiting for me to join him and strap him in. There’s promise unrealized, things I hope for. Even our relationship, at one year at the end of the month, has crazy holes we will have to wait to back fill. We have spent barely three days together in a row, and still need to determine if four is too much. I have to let time keep going forward to get there.
I will comfort myself. I make the effort to dress and pretty up as if the pandemic barrier might drop at any minute and I would need to drop everything to see him. (with laws in place, I doubt it will go that fast). After January, I will buy a short whip, and take it to the nearest park to learn to aim it, so the next time we are alone, even if he’s stolen from me again, I can send him back with welts.
I will progress as best I can with what we have for now. And it will be some comfort that although hot soup and a picnic are now the height of decadent luxury, they feel like much, much more.