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Pleasure is a word until recently I couldn’t fully form in my mouth without shame. Pleasure is the thing I now keep with me on the regular as the vibe drawn in the sand. I used to carry a vibrator with me masquerading as a tube of lipstick. It was pink with a black shell, about the size of my palm. Once during a presentation written by me about the ashiness of anxiety, it fell from my makeup bag and rolled under the feet of the woman I was presenting to. She picked it up and smiled. “I hate when that happens”, she sang as she cupped my vibrator in her hands. She had no idea what she was holding. She just saw a woman, shaking from sharing her story, now quaking with embarrassment.

I tend to run from orgasms. Allow me to get a little more surface. I tend to run from pleasure. Nope, let’s zoom out even more. I have a penchant towards running from any good thing. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to feel. Too many things in this world required feelings and I had a plethora of them with no help towards nurturing them. Because of my incessant need to be treated decently, my mother, along with all the other adults surrounding me, sought to teach me how to shut down; how to completely turn off, shut up and be happy with whatever life shoved my way. I sat in rooms that weren’t mine, quarantined. I sat with feelings my mother claimed Judy Blume could better deduce. I watched other girls not unlike myself get new training bras and hugs for having the ability to grow up unscarred while I tried on my hand-me-down bras from big cousins in the same room as the creepy play uncle. I had no true freedom or agency where I laid my head. I was unaware of how this was informing my relationship with my body going forward. There were moments I stole. Moments I allowed my fingers to roam and my legs to open up to my own presence. But I never went further. I never truly tapped into my body until the calls from the inside began to ring.

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There’s something about wearing headphones in the sex shop that informs how you navigate the space. Pasty-white mannequins with bad wigs and flat asses dot the storefront that houses shit that’ll remind you single life ain’t that bad. I’m listening to my bad bitch playlist when the realization hits of how much power I hold here. I can cum in peace without regulation, speculation or intimidation. I can ask questions and no one will ridicule me. I can peruse the movie section wondering if any of the stars are now making bank on OnlyFans and no one will bat an eye. I can go deeper. With myself and my pleasure. Something I didn’t think would be possible for me. Back to why I tend to run from orgasms: honestly, they’re just too good. When you’re deprived and cut off from your own bodily autonomy, discovering the full breadth of what your pussy can both dish out and take is a massive undertaking. The nail cutting. The finding of rhythm and perfect pressure. It’s a whole job. I was a beginner in my adult body that birthed a daughter and weathered an abusive, cumless marriage. I can pinpoint the first time I brought myself to near-orgasm, “edging” if you will. I had just purchased my first vibrator after putting it back twelve times. It was light blue and curved, bunny ears jutting from the base. My First Vibrator™ and I rolled around my floor before I ever made contact. I had to dig deep to find some bravery, some remnant of a connection to my sexual self. As I was growing accustomed to the waves, I accidentally took myself to a height I couldn’t handle and scared myself. I threw the vibrator and gathered my bed sheet around my chest as you do in every theatrical bedroom scene. I was breathing heavy, the throbbing coming from my center both infuriated and tantalized me. Since then, orgasms have been these amazing streams of clitoral consciousness I can only visit when I have the physical and mental bandwidth. Which sucks.

I wish to change that. I wish to bring pleasure to me on a cellular level. Because I envy the hard orgasms. The ones that contort limbs and scratch larynxes. The ones that grip you and pin you down, demanding your satisfaction be fully adjudicated. The ones I hear through a neighbor’s window as I’m checking my mail late one night. Her moans are soft, throaty and ecstatic. I pictured someone giving her sensations she’d been waiting for all day. I could imagine her daydreaming about how her mind goes blank and her skin becomes electric when she’s in the throes. I didn’t hear another voice so maybe those sensations were gifts to herself after a long week at a thankless job or from remembering that she held the power to make herself feel better. I was both turned on and jealous. Because I’m single not mingling with nary a dingle in sight. And I wanted someone to hear me give myself the business.

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I’m a private, public person. I’m an extroverted introvert. I like being seen on my terms. I once drove topless from my old home in Virginia to my new home in Maryland because I wanted to see if I had it in me. I wish I could fully explain the levels of freedom that come with pierced nipples free for the feasting on a busy interstate. Nothing but the overhead highway lights to reveal to passersby what’s going on in the Corolla. It started with just lifting my shirt to reveal my bra, then boobs, then all skin exposed. I can’t tell you the why, I just know the pleasure it gave me to give myself access to my fullness without apology. The exhilaration of potentially being caught was a thrill I hadn’t allowed myself to have. And here I was, belly out, skin glowing. It was a statement and a proclamation, even and especially if it’s only to me.

Seeking and centering my own pleasure has been a journey. In my current growth cycle, it peaked when I began to acknowledge what I like and don’t like as a whole person. I don’t like to match completely. I love tea and stand by the belief that coffee is trash. I like attention when it’s healthy and constructive. I find solace in long drives where I get lost on purpose. Discovering what brings me pleasure on a macro level continues to help me etch out my lines sexually. I’m a demiromantic being who has an insatiable crush on Daveed Diggs. I am a creature of the night who nestles up to the sounds of moans and people experiencing pleasure. I aspire to be the woman who succeeds with giving herself multiple hard orgasms because she deserves and holds the tools to screw herself into eternity. Sex magick is a real thing. I opt to make over my entire existence through pleasure. Because I can.

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Writing your next book is hard

A Big Chop Grows in Maryland