Three and a half weeks ago…
I am sitting in a theatre in Winnipeg. It’s the last show of the night. I’m exhausted and emotionally spent, and I’d kind of rather be asleep. But I took an actual printed comp from my friend and promised to come support her. These 10:45pm-or-later shows are brutal, and we performers do try to help each other out where we can. It’s just good fringe karma. The show is hilarious and original, and soon I am watching with the joy and appreciation that makes me so proud to be a fringe artist.
I’m not thinking of the phone sex business back home that is merely treading water in my absence. I don’t think about the relationships that feel in danger of coming apart at the seams because I am not there to tend- or end- them properly. I am, for the first time in days, not bowed by the pressure of remounting Threads for the second year in a row at the same festival. I am just letting myself be entertained, allowing myself a rare moment to relax.
The performer begins a new story, one about going sky-diving for the first time with her deceased husband. She is describing standing on the wing, holding onto the bar, being paralyzed with fear. Her arms begin to ache under the strain of holding her to the plane. All that wind force and air pressure meeting her resistance hurts. It is the line she speaks next that hits me square in the gut:
“It’s not the letting go that’s painful, it’s the hanging on.”
I feel like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me, like I’m the one who let go of the bar, that my parachute didn’t open and I’ve smashed against the ground. I realize I’m crying.
Home to me is more a feeling than a place. Being back for a couple weeks, I can’t ignore that something feels wrong. I know I need to make some big, big changes.
Most importantly to the majority of you, my professional focus is shifting from phone sex, to writing and performing. I’m not retiring altogether or anything drastic like that, but I am no longer going to be putting the majority of my “work” time into BayCityBlues.com. I’ll still be available for calls when I am home, and the website will remain intact for myself and the few operators I’ve chosen to keep on. I will not be putting anyone new on BCB unless they pass a rigorous screening and application process. I may try new ops on the fantasy sites from time to time, but they’ll have to pursue the position heavily and meet strict minimums if they’re hired.
Being the head of a giant phone sex company is not my future. I have tried for nearly a decade; building the company up, burning it down, starting it over. It doesn’t work, not the way I want to do it. Sad to say, having ethics and respect for my clients and operators makes me infinitely less competitive in this industry. I’m great on the phone, decent at writing when I put my mind to it, and reasonably web- and social media-savvy. But the rest of it? The administrative and managerial nightmares that never seem to end? It’s exhausting, and it puts me in a sour mood that is directly contrary to being able to provide quality, authentic phone sex. I can’t and won’t do it anymore. The company will continue, but with only the core group of women we’ve pretty much had since the beginning and the few amazing ones we managed to find along the way.
I’ve started streamlining the sites, and I’ll continue to over the coming weeks and months. I’m surprised at the emotions this decision is bringing up. Part of me can’t help but look at this as epic failure almost a decade in the making: after ten years, I still can’t get it right. And another part of me remembers that phone sex was the job I took to get me through acting school, so turning my attention from phone sex to acting could be viewed as the natural, even overdue, progression. In 2012, for the first time ever I earned more from my writing/acting than I did from phone sex. So when the anxiety hits, I try to focus on gratitude for the blessings I have and the wonderful possibilities my new career endeavors will present. It’s exciting, and terrifying.
In addition to all this professional upheaval, I’m also dealing with the evolution of one of my personal poly relationships. Suffice it to say that this period of adjustment is difficult, awkward, painful, sad…and necessary. My heart is broken. It isn’t anybody’s fault, it’s just what happens when things don’t work out the way we hope they will with the people we love.
For some reason, this is the hardest and roughest break-up-type-thing I’ve ever gone through, including my divorce. Why do two people who deeply love each other find themselves growing apart? What do you do when clinging to what was threatens to render unrecognizable the love that does remain? Where does one find the strength to step out on that airplane wing and dive into the no-guarantee-there’s-even-a-parachute-strapped-to-your-back future?
RE: How to jump out of a plane
Take one step and hope the next one comes easier. Breathe. Be grateful for the air. Take another step. Feel your grip loosening against the wind. Stumble. Right yourself. Open your eyes. See the world in front of you. Breathe. Let go. Fly.
It’s not the letting go that’s painful, it’s the hanging on.
**Many thanks to Christine Lesiak. If you are anywhere near the Edmonton Fringe, go see her in Ask Aggie.**