Every thing teaches transition, transference, metamorphosis: therein is human power, in transference, not in creation; & therein is human destiny, not in longevity but in removal. We dive & reappear in new places.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
So here we are again, for the fifth time; I daresay this is becoming a habit. That’s really not surprising; ever since I retired from sex work in 2006, my life has been bound by habits and schedules, like a cocoon I wove to give myself structure and meaning at a time when the framework that had defined my life for nine years had suddenly been taken away. That self-imposed bondage was comfortable and safe; it allowed me time to think and to explore, to figure out who I was now and to decide what was important to me and where I wanted my life to go. And as I slowly, haltingly learned about the power of the internet, I also became aware of a great restlessness and dissatisfaction in myself; I found myself talking about sex work and sex worker rights on message boards that had absolutely nothing to do with the subject, and began to resent prissy moderators who could delete anything I wrote on a whim. By the time I had been retired for four years, I could stand it no more; I had to stake out a place in this new digital world where I could share the truth about my life, my sisters and the only work I ever loved. At first, I was extremely anonymous; in May of 2012 I even turned down an offer to host a TV show on the History Channel because I was just not ready for that kind of exposure. I had not yet broken out of my cocoon, but merely reshaped it for purposes of my activism.
But in the summer of 2012, that all began to change when I accepted an invitation to appear at the Southern Harm Reduction Conference; a few weeks later I agreed to speak at Albany Law School’s symposium the next February. The cocoon had become too small and much too restrictive, and I was breaking out of it; people began to hear my voice in interviews and see my face at events, and when I decided to go on my tour last summer I shook the last tatters of silk from my newfound wings and proudly revealed my face (and the rest of me) for the world to see. There’s no turning back now; the die, as the man said in Latin, is cast. In the past few months I’ve been recognized twice in the small town I live nearest, and that’s just fine with me; I wouldn’t turn down a TV hosting gig now as easily as I turned down the reality show offer I got last spring. Flitting under my own power from coast to coast last summer was the scariest, craziest, least-scripted thing I’ve ever done, and also one of the most rewarding; this year I plan to explore even more widely. Sometimes I miss the coziness of that cocoon, but the warmth of the sun and the smell of the flowers and the feel of the breeze under my wings are far better, and the work Aphrodite wants me to do can’t be done while tied up in the dark.