Saturday, January 5, 2013

Blog Post - Daddy Got Weepy at the Leatherman (NYC & Chicago, 2011 & ‘12)

It was the Sunday before Memorial Day.  I was standing in The Leatherman booth at the market at IML (International Mister Leather) in Chicago deciding on which paddle to buy.  

That’s when the bewildering tears came, creeping out of the corners of my eyes at first.  

First let me explain to the uninitiated IML takes over an entire convention hotel in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend every year.  It’s a competition where the crown princes of 2012 leathermen contests around the world come to compete for the literal title of “International Mister Leather.”  

Concurrently thousands of men to come to gear up in leather, rubber, neoprene/, puppy play, and/or wrestling singlets or whatever else makes those men feel good and empowered.  Fetishes are played out between parties with always readily available sex.  It’s a good community of sex positive guys letting their freak flag unfurl and fly.  

I was 41 then and looking pretty good, fit, in jeans, boots, and my leather vest; sort of an afternoon leather daddy casual approach for midday fetish and gear shopping.  Already tall, my boots added an inch or two and then my leather trooper cap created some imposing height.  And there I stood shocked by the tears falling lighting from the corners of my eyes.

The proprietor of The Leatherman asked me about the boy who had assassinated my heart over the past 36 hours.  As soon as I said his name, tears crept out like water moving through the cracks in a stone.  The emotion welling inside found the fissure and took that opportunity to travel to the surface, no longer willing to stay subjugated.

So, there I stood, buying a paddle, a leather daddy crying like a menopausal woman.  Or like a man shocked by emotions forgotten for lack of exercise, who had been inspired by a little bit of love. My unintentional defenses were pushed out of the way.  I didn’t feel at all embarrassed.  It felt good.

There was also some sadness, anger, and regret mixed into those tears.  They felt like they had came from broken hear that had refused to fail.  I was divorcing and still separating from my estranged-future-ex-husband who had moved out of our home almost a year ago then.  Our five-year marriage ended several months before that.   

Divorce, as a process, is not quick or easy even when it’s amicable. Dissolution of a marriage is an incomprehensible miasma of paperwork.  It’s a lawsuit where one spouse is forced to sue the other for divorce, even when they both agree on how they want to separate and divide the assets.  Then add to that a home with an upside-down mortgage during a recession.  The severing of that presented only options that went from bleak to dismal.  

Friends, people who, I suppose, are concerned kept asking, “Are you and (he) still friends?”  The question always perplexed me.  Why should I have been friends with the man I was divorcing?  

It’s just one of those questions that people ask.  

I also get asked, “Are you getting along?” and “Are you talking?” These are variations.  It’s so automatic, like one of those things that people just...say.  But why?  It seems to come out of a sympathetic interest in my well being.

Is it a roundabout way of asking if our breakup was acrimonious?  Perhaps the real question is do you hate each other? Are you so angry at him that you cannot tolerate the sound of his voice?  I would prefer those questions because at least they’re honest.  

Were we friends? That question confused me.  

So, in case you’re wondering, I did talk to my ex.  The logistics of the divorce and separation of property kept us talking for months and months.  I never asked him how he was doing, though, or how he was coping.  

I would say I didn’t care but that’s tin.  The truer thing is that I deliberately severed my concern.  And I remember the moment when I made that willful break.  It was conscious and probably cruel.  

He and I decided to end our marriage after a couples therapy session where that suddenly felt unavoidable to me.  After that I cut-off a simple, sincere ritual; an innocuous daily act of reaffirming our love for each other.  When we left or came home, when we hung up the phone after talking to each other we would say, “I love you.” In person we would punctuate that with a kiss.  

Within a week of our decision to separate, months before we would physically leave each other, I said to him, “We can no longer do that.  Or say that.”  

If we were going to end our marriage then our actions had to follow our intentions.  

In that moment he looked so sad.  Tears welled up in his eyes fast.  He paused and took a determined breath.  “Okay,” he said, “I understand.  I get it.” It was as if the loss became palpable to him in that second.    

It was part of my project management approach to problem solving.  When someone presents me with a problem, I propose a solution.  Then I break it down into phases and start assigning resources - mental, physical, emotional.  I don’t even pause when something awful happens to me.  Instead I react with an action plan and then immediately implement.  It’s so intrinsic that when someone asks me how I’m feeling as I go through something awful, I’m quite surprised by the question.  

Acknowledging the end of our marriage and terminating my everyday care and concern for him.  Done.  That, to me, was a tangible step in separation.  

It’s a hyper-functional coping mechanism and it served me well.   I lost my job in mid 2010, as part of the detritus of a corporate merger.  That was about four months before we decided to end our marriage.  The mortgage needed to be paid so we lived together, slept side-by-side, for months after agreeing to end our marriage, until I found a job.  Only then could  we could afford to separate.  That kept us living together through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years of 2010 into 2011.  

During those weeks and months after that, before he moved out, I marshalled my acuity and spirit into finding work.  My severance was paying the mortgage.  His salary could not alone.  I couldn’t accept the failure of my marriage and losing my home to the bank.  Or selling it at a loss so that I would be over 40 and carrying mortgage debt for a home I had to abandon.  

I found job at the start of 2011, and he moved out a month later.  

Living alone after a long term relationship took twice the effort because I was used to doing only half the work.  Buying groceries, laundry, dry cleaning, paying bills, walking and feeding the dog happened with the same frequency but now I had half the “staffing.”  And new jobs require effort learning and meeting and trying to impress. Layer on that the refinancing and divorcing went on for another two years until they were done.

What I didn’t do until that Memorial Day weekend in 2012, was cry, or feel sad, or miss what I had lost.  It hadn’t occurred to me to mourn the loss of a love.  My ex and I had wanted to have children.  We were going to adopt.  We had even registered with an agency.  

But I could cry at the mention of a boy I had just really met the day before.  Those tears were stealth but also fierce.  At that improbable time and place, while trying to buy an instrument to deliver corporal discipline, a compassion overcame me.  It defyied want or logic or even any awareness that I had subjugated my love, hurt and loss.  

What was it about this boy that called forth this warmth and capability for loving, if not yet love?  

I call him “boy,” because that’s the play.  The boy is submissive to the Sir who is dominate.  Really they are both equal partners in that relationship or even if it’s only for sex.  The sub gives his service to the dom who controls and guides the boy.  Perplexing at first, I found trust and caring in that exchange that was profound.  That boy gave me the opportunity to allow myself be dominate without self-judgement, to let that part of myself off the leash with someone who wanted that from me.

This was all new to me.  This boy was guiding me through the code and protocols.  He was a sexy, beautiful guy still in his twenties with a shaved head and a scruffy beard.  He was a bit shorter and more sinewy and slender than me.  A boy really.  And a total dork.  He would yammer on about his knitting and then tell me about the St Andrews cross he has built in his apartment so he could be restrained and flogged.  He went on about rollerblading and then his dog and then asked if I would be willing to use him as a footrest some night while I watched TV at home.  (There is a surprising intimacy in that domestic scene he proposed, isn’t there?)

I was charmed.  That I knew as I looked around for a paddle to use on his naked ass.  Why thinking of him made me cry was perplexing but so great.  It was like letting out a breath that I had been holding onto for more than a year.  

The manager of The Leatherman man put both of his hands onto my shoulders and squeezed them.  “That is a beautiful thing, man.  It really is.”  That simple grace and humanness almost sent me into delirious sobbing.  I recovered and wiped away the tears.  I bought two paddles - one that made a provocative snapping noise on impact and another blunt one that was sure to leave more red and sting on a bare white ass.

I wish I could write that this was the start of the next big romance of my life.  That I’m writing this with the lovely, eccentric boy under foot.  When it comes to my alter ego as a dom leather daddy Sir, I’m a dilettante at best (though my play is sincere and earnest when it happens).  And the boy...evaporated.  Post-IML he wasn’t ready for dating or for dating me.  Who knows?  I don’t.  

That may seem like a sad ending to this story, but I don't’ see it that way.  A submissive boy helped his Sir rediscover the heart he had been too busy to see that he had lost.  

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