It's dragged out longer than I wanted. It was harder than I thought to get out. You keep getting pulled back, even when everything that drew you to it in the first place is like a faded memory. Even when exciting new developments are waiting in the wings for your full attention. Old habits die hard and nostalgia has its pull. But I finally closed the door for good when I said to myself: it doesn't matter who they are, even the dearest ones, it's time to set up a permanent auto-reply and announce my retirement. They can take care of themselves. It's time to shut that door for good.
Boundaries have always been my weakness, and so with this leaving it was messy and upsetting. Maybe it couldn't have been any other way. In this arena, I was able to turn that weakness into a strength, gaining momentum from those slippery boundaries, sliding in and out of them with bravado.
In the beginning, I had something to prove. At the time, it seemed such a brave and daring thing. To show who's wearing the pants around here. To serve up a slice of pain of violation, subjugation, and objectification. Straight from the heart, aimed like an arrow into yours. Revenge and glory all wrapped up into one neat package: Mistress Xia.
It's almost funny how we all keep reenacting our hurt, as if we can somehow make it better, get it right if we just keep at it. But you cannot exorcise demons through repeated exposure, not unless you are truly safe. And being emotionally safe in a professional environment revolving around sexuality takes a monumental effort; perhaps a thicker skin than I can muster. In the end, I think the parameters are off.
Yes, I traded places with the perpetrator, but it was same dance. A simplistic, binary dance which failed to embrace the shades of gray, the ultimate paradox of life. An illusory act, complicit in its thrust of inauthenticity - the idea that intimacy of any kind can be up for sale, that people do not really have to see one another, but can simply order up what they've imagined in the isolation of their own heads. It always seemed like cheating, that you could get to someone you normally wouldn't have a chance with because money exchanged hands. It's not earned that way, and it's hard to respect because of it. I do not want to be a part of the lies anymore, nor the misunderstanding and ego-tripping these lies perpetuate. No more running into pain to run away.
My City was on fire this past week, giddy with celebration over our first World Series win. It was no coincidence that during this playoff run, I set myself free. I was loving every minute following these guys who played with such pure hearts and clear minds, without the egotistical fronting. Weird, wild, fun-loving, hard-working, creative, and humble - this underdog team of 2010 was a beautiful reflection of the spirit of San Francisco.
It was great to watch these Giants not succumb to the small-minded questioning of the sports press, who cajoled in an attempt to inflate their egos by asking them to choose who among them was the best, tempting the players to alienate themselves from a common effort. In that last game, the other team's pitcher lost because he wouldn't back down, he said that wasn't his way. But we could all feel the danger immediately preceding that moment, and knew backing down would have been the wise and prudent thing to do - if not for him, then for his team. Our scrappy team would not make the same mistake. And our own unassuming yet phenomenal pitcher, a hero among heroes, without a doubt had much to do with our success.
I could not help but see some analogies within this arena and the one I just left. Burning bright and hard with youth, the talented rise to the top. And though we earn vital wisdom with age, our bodies will inevitably give way. The seduction of the ego is ever present, and there are many devils in disguise. There is the pure joy of the game, and the dark side of exploitation and objectification. It is easy to forget about the fun and get jaded. But if you protect yourself and learn to tune out the bullshit, you can keep that magic... at least for a little while.
So this past week, amidst the throng of fans who lined the streets of San Francisco, I fell in love with my adopted city all over again. It's been fifteen years since I moved up here from that hellacious town down south. The City is my refuge from all that I despised down there: the superficial cool, the forced cynicism, the hierarchy and sexism, the meanness, ignorance, and arrogance - all that powering the machine of Hollywood fast food celebrity culture. Growing up there, it was almost as if that town goes out of its way to spit on you. Up here we revel in the goofy, we smile and mostly mean it, we know how to be real and how to love. We are a wellspring of post/modern culture: from beatniks to hippies to Burning Man and the techno-evolution. We are unselfconscious, not afraid to show that we speak from the heart and that we believe. That's what makes San Francisco such a great city, a city where each of us matters, and which inspires us do the "impossible" while others are still saying no.