Ever since I became single (367 days ago, but who else is counting?) I find that I come face to face with this dilemma about what I do and who I do. I think about this often. More often than I ever thought I would think about it when I was a 25-year-old radio producer who happened to find her way onto a internationally syndicated (it was the world wide web after all) talk show about sex. Then, when I poured my heart out to a host I barely knew, about the sex life I had never talked about before, I didn’t think about my future. I was too focused on my past.
That job, at eyada.com, changed my life. No longer wanting to be just a radio producer anymore, I now wanted to be a sex educator, a sexpert - if you like the term, I don’t - a Carrie Bradshaw, only different. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I jumped at the chance to work at a sex shop, get my degree and write about my dating and sex escapades for Steppin’ Out, while, at the same time, doling out sex advice for Playgirl Magazine.
From the age of 24-30 I stayed single. I dated men - and occasionally women - and worked seven days a week most weeks. I was a radio producer, a sex educator at Babeland, a writer and script supervisor for Candida Royalle’s erotic movie Stud Hunters. I loved what I did, and thought I had become way cooler than my high school years had promised I could be. I felt lucky, lovely and carefree. I never thought that I would feel otherwise.
Then, at 30, I met a man and fell in love. I had wanted a relationship for quite some time. He loved me without caring what I did for a living. I wrote about him. Called him the Cowboy in my Hot Wax column and continued to ponder the difficulties of love and lust in the big city. My friends who used to read my blog to learn about my escapades, some of them told me they liked me better before, that I was more exciting pre-Cowboy. I resented their comments. I didn’t need to continue seeking out sex with strangers for the amusement of my friends. Somehow I had become their circus freak, not thinking that eventually I would feel that way all on my own. My Cowboy and I had a pretty comfortable life together. I talked of having a baby (he said we could talk more when I turned 37) and about staying together until one of us wasn’t around anymore. Then, one weekend, almost out of nowhere, I left him for more exciting pastures.
I don’t regret that. That’s not the point of this.
Now, in this next phase of my life, the one where I’m supposed to be a responsible adult, I feel alone and a little too anxious. I think that what I do makes it hard for me to meet the kinds of men I want to do. As a sex educator, a single woman, a porn-maker, masturbation advocate and feminist who feels that we all have the right to express ourselves the way we feel moved to express ourselves, more men want to sleep with me to see how good I am, and not to see how far we go.
I’m ready for a relationship, which makes it difficult for me to want to go back to where I was, pouring my heart out about the ups and downs of dating, telling all about who I love and how I screw. But then there’s a part of me that wants to keep that dialogue open and honest and available as both part of the process and part of my work. There’s a part of me that envies my sex educator friends and colleagues who have it all, the baby, the boyfriend(s), husbands and homes. A part of me that thinks that’s what I want, but then finds it difficult to want to date, to have to explain myself to the right one out of fear that he hates porn (I once had dated a man that referenced Dworkin and Mackinnon with a passion). I don’t want to feel wrong for my career and I don’t want to feel like a novelty for what I do. I’m not a novelty, not in the way that being a sex educator, writer, filmmaker once was. But still, it’s hard to want to answer the question honestly, “so tell me what you do.” My favorite answer these days is I dissect rats, but only ones that died of natural causes.
I’m not sure where this is going, or where I go from here. I think I just wanted to write. To say I’m vulnerable, open and eager to explore my next chapter of relationship. After reading Anna Davies close-to-home-hitting piece “I’m done writing about my sex life“, I wonder what done means. I know I’m not done, but I’m ready to figure out how to out do myself again.