This is more of a stream of consciousness. I’m on my way home from a trip to Philly where I presented at PolyLiving 2013. It was a wonderful time, with many people who inspired me with their commitment to one another. It was difficult being at the conference without a partner to share that energy with. I felt a bit off the whole time. I thought at first it was because I was tired from all the over-thinking preparations I put into the event, but realized through the course of things that I really wanted a partner there to pour that energy into and share with.
The energy at a poly event is distinctly different from the energy at a kink event, which is the majority of events that I’ve done so far.
Kink events feel electric. You are literally buzzing the whole time from start to finish. Hugs quickly turn into bites and I quickly feel intimately connected with each person I have encountered. While not all kinks are on display, many are. You can tell who is into leather, who is into rubber, who is collared (at least for the weekend). Bruises are not just visible but a badge of honor showed to even the most casual acquaintance. Attendees are simultaneously buzzed, exhausted and greedy for more. Seminars are sexy and technique oriented. Some scenes are private, but many of them are public. People have an incentive to show off and save their most visually stirring ambitions for that weekend. Old friends reconnect and vendors walk away compensated.
Solo & poly was a new experience
My kink events were my only frame of reference walking into PolyLiving. This was my first solely poly event. And the first event I attended solo. The energy is more…fluid, like a fountain trickling over concrete and rocks only to be recycled and renewed for another trickling trip over the same. The energy just keeps flowing and it never stops. You don’t have the exhaustion, nor the endorphin highs and lows. The seminars are almost all relationship based and hugs last for a full minute. The focus is on connecting through the eyes, the hands, the heart and arrangements with new partners are shared quietly and elegantly. Flirting is both blatant and coy, a dance of interested spirits and all play is confined to behind closed doors.
And it’s all very different attending an event if you’re a presenter. When I’ve demo bottomed for an event or a class, my job is to look pretty, moan appreciatively and be able to articulate my condition to the audience at a moment’s notice. And yet, the focus isn’t on me. People aren’t hungry for my information in a kink demo. Even when I’ve served on panel discussions about race, sexual orientation, gender or consent, the focus isn’t on me providing a solution to someone’s personal issue, I’m there to simply add my voice and experience.
But as a presenter at a conference like this, a national conference for all genres of poly, people come ready to work, ready to receive, ready to process and ready to challenge. I end up putting a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that each participant in my session is able to take something valuable away from my presentation. But the more formal I make the presentation (i.e. PowerPoint), the less valuable it feels for me…the less authentic (this applies only to the presentations *I* do…not what others do). Attendees bring amazing insight and ask challenging questions. But not because it’s an academic exercise for them. Many are bringing their hurts, mistakes, and fears to the table…and it triggers a very deep desire from within to be of true service in their lives, even if I never see them again.
I learned a lot this week about how I best work for an event like this:
- I need time alone to just feel comfortable in my own skin before I present anything
- I need to stop trying to use a projector (because there’s no guarantee it will ever work anyway)
- I need to put myself in the seat of someone listening to my topic
- I need companionship of some sort afterward–a good friend, a flirty potential, an established partner–that I can debrief with afterward– and who will tell me honestly but kindly how I did
- I need to decide on one session that I absolutely will not miss and make it a priority to attend it
- Taking time to sleep in or retire early at least one day is essential
- And I love remaining open to every possibility that comes my way as well as letting go of expectations I may have had about every connection that I feel
- And connecting with at least one other presenter is a good way to get better insight into how to better connect with the subject-matter
- I need to remind myself that other members of the profession may be experienced but they are not me and I must resist believing that I will be judged unworthy by them
This weekend, every voice was valued, every spirit honored, every space made sacred by the affection of having this commonality. This weekend I noticed people had trouble determining how others identify and assumptions were brought to light and yet almost everyone eschews the imposition of a label, even when asking where they’re from. This weekend there was healing (that I will detail in another post) and such meaningful conversations. I was challenged, I was corrected, and I did a lot of the same. But more than anything, I walked away with new ideas and new potential and the strongest desire to be of service to this community that is so trusting and sincere.