I logged onto Fetlife one early Friday morning with a steamy cup of joe and saw this message straight away:
I was there last night but didn't get out of my truck. I was still in my work clothes and didn't really know how to find you guys. Maybe I'll try again next month.
As the host of the previous night's kink social event, my heart sank. This is one of the most disappointing things I could have read, second only to the emails that I don't ever receive; the people who don't even make it to the parking lot.
I understand. You don't know anybody there. There are about a bajillion worst case scenarios that your brain has conjured up ever since you first desired to head out into the local community.
What will everybody be like? What will they expect me to be like? What should I call everybody? What should I call myself?
What if somebody I know is there?
What if I go up to the wrong table?
What if I find the right table and I simply don't fit in?
What if... what if... what if... what if...
Maybe that's the toughest part. The sense of being all alone in that situation. The unknowing.
Maybe I can help.
Hi. My name is Darling. I am 34 years old; a Leo who adores being the center of attention. I come from a big city and a big Italian family. I miss the concrete jungle and wish my man saw skyscrapers as "homey" the way I do. I am very blonde and very loud and almost always talk emphatically with my hands. I never sit down unless I absolutely have to; I just have that much energy. You'll get used to it, used to me, over time my future friend.
I too was worried about how I looked and whether I was wearing the right clothes before I showed up that night. It was my umpteenth event and while I know now with certainty that I won't ever be judged based on the clothes I am wearing to a kink event, I have never been able to stop my desire to look appropriate and nice. I feel you, dear internet stranger that I have yet to meet.
I am happily married to a man I have known for ten years, married just over five. We've had ups, and downs, and plenty of in the middles. We have never hung up the phone without saying, "I love you," but never talked about the fact that we do. Guess it's just always felt like our way. During the hardest of our struggles, my friends that I have made in this lifestyle have been the ones to build us back up; to talk us through the storm.
Speaking of those friends: Know how many women I have met that are similarly walking my path since attending my first event?
More than I could ever count.
An amazing thing happens when you get together with like minded kinksters. It's not just about being able to have a conversation about your wants and desires with people who won't judge. Yes, that, certainly. But it is the speed with which you can have a conversation. We read all this stuff online and begin to understand the lingo, the verbiage. But until you can talk with somebody in person, to stare into another person's set of unique eyes and watch them crease at the corner in empathy, in understanding, instead of the eyebrow-raised questioning of vanilla folk, you can't understand how necessary this is. They get it without explanation; without slowing you down or trying to understand your point of view. We "get" it. These people have become more than ordinary acquaintances and friends. They have become my lifeline.
So, anyway, I love to go to the gym (actually, I LOVE pasta, and in that turn I have learned to love the gym) and I paint and write and read. I spend a lot of time worried about where I am headed in life, or about bills, or about my children. I volunteer at the kid's school whenever I can and almost always regret it while there, surrounded by noise and stickiness, but always end up doing it the next time again for another chance to watch my kids grow up before my very eyes.
I practice hair and make up tutorials from YouTube, I am just now learning to accessorize, I waste free time on silly games, I convince myself I am not doing enough for others despite not ever seeming to have "me" time.
I doubt. I cry. I get hormonal. I love. I laugh so loud sometimes I stop a room and garner stares from strangers.
I am a stranger to you, dear brand new community member. But I hope now I am a little less intimidating, a little less unfamiliar, a little more comfortable to walk up to and say, "Hi, my name is... and you are...?"
If not, or if I sound like a nightmare of a person to you and you couldn't be less interested in me now, trust me, I am one of so many choices. The table was full of a mix of life, people who are sharing in the human experience with you. With us both.
Maybe it was somebody else's first night too. You'll never know unless you get out of that truck next time.
And if it's still hard, and still uncomfortable, and stillhas completly immobilized you in your truck, there is one thing I can give you that can GUARANTEE you will have something in common with every single person at that gathering.
It's not our kinks, it's not our relationship status or age or dynamic or what we think may turn us on.
Every single person at that table, at one point in their life, has sat in a parking lot of a restaurant or party or bar or coffee house with their hand on a door handle perched firmly between "too scared go in" and "too scared to go on without people who understand."
Every single one us have decided: no more.
Dear internet-stranger-turned-now-acquaintance, I have no idea if you will find what you are seeking at the table of our local sports bar where we meet. You may find friends, or a play partner, or nothing at all.You may in fact discover that whatever you are seeking is not this . Of that I have no guarantee.
But I can assure you that the next time you are sitting in a parking lot with your hand holding that door handle- I know exactly how you feel.
You can do it. I believe in you. Because I have seen so many come before you, including myself, and I will see so many more that follow.
Next month, open the door, find the loudest blonde around, walk up and say, "Are you Darling?"
I will be.
And we will be strangers no more.
If you are in a small town where no local events exist, or if you are looking to find a niche group of like minded kinksters and are looking to start a new event in your local community, look for my follow up piece about Starting A New Local Group (coming soon).