As I sat in the passenger’s seat of my driver’s car, watching the city lights fade to the stretch of country roads, I mused on the experiences I have had since starting this new chapter in my life. Flashes of men in hotel rooms, men who’s names I do not recall. I remember how many of them came to me with very few words, clutching my body like a flotation device, looking into my eyes as they approached climax. Some of them cried in that moment and I held them, offering them comfort, offering them my lush, yielding, gentle body, and sharing some part of myself, even though we would likely never meet again.
Images of how sex work is perceived flashed through my mind: soul-destroying, abusive, damaging, degrading. I imagine people thinking of women like me as soulless vampires, opportunists, dead inside, unable to feel the sweet ambrosia of sexual pleasure. It amused me in that moment how completely wrong that description is for me. Sex work has deepened my compassion for men, not annihilated it. Men are complex, beautiful, vulnerable, human. So are women. And everyone else.
My parents are astrologers and tarot readers. To this day, I have a deck of cards that I consult from time to time. A reading I gave myself turned up two queens, the Queen of Swords and the Queen of Cups. The Queen of Swords is independent, cold, unattached, set apart. This is how I felt when my marriage ended. I put up so many walls around my heart, not wanting to let anyone in again, not wanting to feel anything too deeply for anyone. The Queen of Cups is emotionally available, nurturing, compassionate, romantic. As I drove down that sporadically lit road, those two archetypes flitted through my head. I am caught between the two. I am bursting with love and desire for connection, but I still insist on protecting myself. Funny how marriage and a live-in relationship prior to marriage caused me to put up walls, while sex work has helped me tear down those walls. Life is full of seeming contradictions.
I focused on the feelings of love that burst from my chest. It was so beautiful that I almost wept. Yes, I said to the night sky, yes, I will be open to love. Yes, I will continue to risk. I will live this way. I will consciously remove these safeguards and make myself vulnerable. It is the more authentic way to live. I will protect myself, but I will not shut down.