Memorial weekend

I’ve brought back congested sinuses and a phlegm-y throat amongst a bunch of great memories and marks from Shibaricon.  The enormity of those memories threaten to overwhelm, and yet I keep flipping through them like a slideshow; images and moments and words running in constant stream through my head.

Shibaricon has been imbued with many different meanings for me.  If I had to give it a one-sentence summary, this is what I would write: a multi-faceted event encompassing various traits of family, community, and camaraderie.  From seeing the incredulously many familiar faces at Thursday’s meet and greet hour, to being welcomed home by Psychokitty at the opening ceremonies, to geeking out about ropes with new and old friends, to serving Max and wearing his collar throughout the weekend – I felt myself an integrated part of a whole.

Some highlights, roughly chronological:

  • Max tying his leather turk’s head collar around my neck.  I’ve only worn this kind of collar once before, for the week of Folsom 2009.  I’m glad to have gotten a little time alone with him that first night, reconnecting and rejoicing in seeing him again.
  • Everyone.  There is simply no way to list all of the wonderful people I got to meet or see again.  Thursday’s meet and greet set the pace for how overwhelmed I would feel the rest of the weekend.  I also got to see friends at the IML vendor fair as well as meet Dan Savage!
  • I feel like I didn’t actually go to that many workshops or classes.  I didn’t go to any on Monday, and missed Saturday afternoon due to a volunteer shift.  I also missed all of the Sunday morning classes in favor of sleeping in.  I do really wish I’d gone to more classes, but there is always next year, and I can’t really complain considering my late-night dungeon fun.  But I did especially enjoy Scott Smith’s Abductions and Takedowns class, Max’s Partial Suspension class, and Zamil’s Efficiency of Movements class.
  • Eating delicious cooked meals with the Boston crew and thereby saving much money I would have otherwise spent on hotel food.
  • Getting kicked around by Max before my afternoon volunteer shift.
  • A dynamic, co-self-suspension done with Fivestar, where much laughter, puppeteering, and general mischief ensued.
  • The amazing scene between Max and PopeBacon directly afterwards, one of the hottest scenes I saw that weekend.
  • Getting a bar of chocolate from Lani as a reminder of how we met at Folsom Fringe.
  • Watching Dov get taken down by 7 girls and one guy at the end of the Abductions class.
  • Taking photos of Max’s and my boots (aka baby Max boots) side by side.
  • My extensive play date with Max, which encompassed aiding him during his scene with the beautiful Symetrie, then doing his boots in the social lounge – an act which has become the closest to being spiritual and ritualistic that I have ever felt, and an act that singularly consumes my body with lust and desire.  By the end we were both filled with tranquility.  I was high, high, high, and we followed the bootblacking with a rope scene that left me snarling and panting, and with whispered words of ownership slipping down my throat and wrapping themselves around my ribcage.
  • Throwdown with Dunter at the end of Zamil’s class.
  • IML.  Getting the opportunity to attend the vendor fair, have my boots done for the first time (by someone other than myself), and just take in the vastness of the event was incredible.  I was a little intimidated at first, but was soon asking vendors for advice on bootcare and trying on leather vests eagerly.  While waiting to get our boots done, Max put rope on me and used me as a footrest.  He also got me my first leather vest, for which I have not yet thanked him enough (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sir).  I have been loathe to take off the vest since.
  • The last hurrah at the hotel bar, hanging out with new and old friends and sipping on Bailey’s before leaving for the flight home.

Some of the more difficult parts:

  • Being in the hotel with two other conventions; one a giant frat party of dart-throwers who’ve co-habited the same venue with Shibaricon for years, and the other a high school quiz bowl competition.  As if it were not difficult enough for me to be around so many people to begin with – Shibaricon capped off at somewhere around 750 attendees this year – I had to navigate around drunk partiers on one side and intelligent and undoubtedly curious kids on the other.  There were a couple times when I just retreated to my room rather than deal with all those crowds of people.
  • Going to a convention without a partner with whom I could practice ties cut down on the classes I felt comfortable attending.  I know I probably could have found a partner fairly easily, but I felt a bit hesitant to let a stranger tie me up, even for a class.  That said, I did manage to get partnered for a couple classes where I knew others, and that was quite fun.
  • Negotiating scenes ahead of time is something I need to work on, as there were people I was really looking forward to playing with but just didn’t get to plan them out beyond “we should talk about playing!”  Not to mention all the boots I wanted to black but didn’t get to!
  • Sunday evening to Monday morning was a difficult period for me.  I could feel myself dropping by Sunday afternoon, and that combined with knowing Max would be removing my collar Monday afternoon sent me into a bad headspace.  I spent Monday morning fighting it, calming myself down, and talking as little as possible, and finally requested, once we reached the vendor fair, that I spend a little time by myself.  I had begun to feel that coming to IML had been a mistake, that I’d have been better off being alone back at the hotel.  But the hour or so I spent wandering the vendor booths helped tremendously and I was able to come out of my mood and enjoy the event.
  • Max taking his collar off.  I could have cried when he untied the leather from my neck and rewove it around my wrist.  I didn’t, however, partly because I felt no different, no less possessed and under his will, once the collar came off.  And partly because, well, I have a hard time crying anyway.
  • The flight home.  Dear lord, this had to have been one of the worst flights I’ve ever taken.  Between the extended delay, sitting in the plane through another delay, and then being delayed during landing, we didn’t arrive in SFO until after midnight.  And during the final leg of the trip, for whatever reason I had intensely painful pressure buildup in my right ear, and nothing I did relieved it.  While I could clear the pressure from my left ear, the right continued to build and build, becoming this brightly focused arrow of pure pain.  I wanted to drive a spike into my ear.

Overall, I hope to make Shibaricon a yearly tradition from now on.  A special thank you to those I met, connected or reconnected with, worked with, shared meals with, and played with, for all the memories.  And especially to Psychokitty for just being the wonderful, amazing guy he is, to Fivestar for being a rocking roommate and for co-engineering our suspension, and to Max for carving out the time during this ridiculously packed, whirlwind of an event to have me at his side.

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