Sensual Experiences of an Empath on a Bus Full of Rain-Soaked Humans

“Breathe next to me. And I will capture a piece of your soul along with mine.” —Marikit dR. Camba

I’m on the #15 bus. It is filled to the steaming brim with people trying to get to their homes on the southeast side of Portland. There are so many people on this bus that people are standing & bodies are aloofly rubbing against each other. All of this is made even more stimulating because it is currently downpouring in monsoon-like fashion & everyone is sopping wet.

I find myself growing excited at the sensual nature of this bus ride — bodies dripping with water, windows fogged, faces & limbs so close to one another that they can feel the heat of the blood coursing through their veins.

I managed to find a seat near the start of the route, but barely. To my left, an older gentleman is playing a word game on his iPad, completely engrossed in bettering his score.

To my right, a young man with a bulging backpack stands in the aisle, his glasses speckled with droplets of water. He isn’t wearing a jacket & is soaking wet. His hair slowly drips onto the palms of my hand. In those droplets, I smell remnants of the product he used in his hair today, which reminds me of being at summer camp when I was 13, & how all the boys, so new in their blossoming manhood, would layer on colognes & aftershaves & hair gels, producing a potent, conflicting fragrance with notes of wild teenaged spirit.

In front of me, a professional-looking man sits & keeps getting text messages on his beeping flip phone that make him smile. And each time he grins, I feel the very little space we have around us in the bus expand slightly with happiness. I notice he has a beautiful jade-green ring on his pinky finger & I admire it.

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Four of My Favorite Sexuality Books — & I’m Giving Them Away

In my office there is a bookcase that belongs completely to me, & on its shelves it stores all of my favorite reads relating to sex & sexuality, feminism, erotica, self-discovery, & other sensual pleasures.

Every book resting on those shelves I consider a treasure, both of knowledge & sentiment. I adore my books, & any that I add to my collection I add with the intent to keep them for the rest of my life. I very, very seldom loan books out. I like the idea of having them always, as though just their being there emits wisdom upon me.

And as much as I’d love to hold onto all of my books for sentimental reasons, I can’t help but think that some of them could serve someone in my community much better than if they were to sit on my bookshelves & collect dust (which they continue to do).

So. . . in the spirit of Spring cleaning, I’m giving away four books from my personal collection.

These four books are very special to me because they were the first sex/sexuality books I read when I began to step into my sexuality & eagerly seek oneness with my sensual, feminine self.

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I Am Not Bisexual

(IPDATE: I’ve recently made peace with the word bisexual as it is used to describe my sexuality. See this post for more.)

There are words in my language that I do not like. Words that, when said, grate on my nerves as if I had been cut open & had tiny bits of shrapnel put inside my wound.

One of these words is bisexual.

The moment I typed out that I was bisexual, I felt a jolt of energy pulsate through my body, as if I had just licked a battery, as if I had been startled by a noise outside & a million tiny hairs on my body stood on end with alertness. I could feel my breath halt for just a few seconds at the utter realization of that one truth: I am bisexual. I ruminated over this one sentence & the rest of the writing for several days after it was composed, not entirely sure if I had the guts to publish it.

And when I finally did decide to publish it, I felt that same jolt of electricity, that same zap of in-the-moment presence that accompanies any hard or exciting or scary choice I make. It’s hard to explain the feeling. It’s part exhilaration, part queasiness, part soulful elation.

I felt those three things again, coupled with that jolt of electricity, when I actually spoke the words I am bisexual to a listening ear. Only this time, the sensations that moved through my body lingered longer. It made me dizzy. I couldn’t stop wondering if I had spoken too spoke, said too much, revealed a part of me that perhaps needed to rest longer.

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Honoring the Darkness

To sit in the illumination of the sun is easy. It warms the skin, its streams are pleasant & becoming. Everyone looks like an angel when golden rays of light are peering down on them.

But to sit in darkness is difficult. To succumb to the cold, deafening silence of solitude, the misery of depression & confusion—to admit these terrors & to speak of them openly feels like a sick glorification. And there is no glory in darkness.

I sit in sunlight with abandon. I sit in darkness with shame.

When I am lightness, I am as weightless as a feather.
When I am darkness, I pierce infinite nothingness.

I do not want people to see my darkness. I do not want them to know the depths I’m capable of. But to deny that it exists within me feels like a gross disavowal of my truth. And my truth is this:

What I feel right now—& have been feeling for months—is a gnawing hunger, one that aches inside my belly as if it were ravenous & craving nourishment. It is a longing I cannot shake, an intense kind of desire to do, to feel, to experience. It is driving me mad. It is keeping me restless.

I have dreams that are wild, borderline nonsensical. I lust for things I have never experienced. I know what it is I want. I know what it looks like, what it smells like, & what it might feel like to have those experiences in my possession.

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When Self-Love Hurts the Ones You Love

As I continue to grow in my self-love practice, I have grown more accustomed to taking the subtle whispers of my longing heart seriously. I have seen the importance of honoring myself by saying No when that is the answer I wish to give, & I understand how staying in alignment with what I truly want affects my self & everything around me.

I just feel better when I stay unwaveringly true to my self. The cells in my body buzz with Yes. The cycles of my existence are perfectly synced. Life becomes full of openness, flow, & ease rather than a series of against-the-grain instances that scrape my spirit.

And there is another element that arises when I’m locked into being unwaveringly true to my self: The hard truth that I, in a deliberate attempt to live my truth, hurt the ones that I love.

Emancipations, staying home, screening phone calls, telling those how I truly feel, revealing what I truly want, creating boundaries to keep my well being protected. . . all of these things, when done with loving, conscious intention, bring about such a surge of liberation to my being.

They also create tension within my relationships.

Of course I do not intend for it to be this way. I do not wish to inflict harm or turmoil onto the ones I love. And I try to have every decision I make come from love, kindness, & grace, while respecting the delicate avenues that such a decision is built around.

But even with caution, even with keen attention to the hearts of my loved ones, even with a tone of voice that is gentle, assured, & forgiving, I will hurt them, I will disappoint them, I might even offend them.

This is inevitable. And somehow, beyond what I can readily explain. . . this is okay.

The most powerful thing I can do in this world is to be a loving, peaceful, actualized being. And honoring myself is the fastest route to these things—albeit tricky when I carefully consider someone else’s emotions & psyches.

And the truth is, it’s utterly impossible to consider everyone’s feelings as I consider my own at the same time, all the time. And at the end of the day it is not my responsibility to be a constant purveyor of happiness & contentment of those around me.

I cannot give what I do not have, & neither can you.

So when you end a relationship you are not happy in. . .
When you choose to only associate with people who will lift you higher. . .
When you switch to a raw vegan diet. . .
When you heed the urge to stay home. . .
When you decide against the big fat wedding in favor for a small civil ceremony. . .
When you tell a friend that they hurt you & you need space to deal with your emotions. . .
When you take an hour to steal away from your babies to get a pedicure. . .

Anything you do that puts your best interest at the nucleus to retain happiness, fulfillment, safety, arousal, alignment. . .

. . . Prepare yourself for darkness, for those close to you will be puzzled & annoyed. They will see your actions as a direct punishment or insult to them, & it will create in them fear & anger & sadness & discomfort.

They will not always understand your reasonings behind your expression of radical self-love. And I don’t think they’re supposed to.

But proceed with grace & anyway, & with the notion that you are the most important person in your life because you are all you have.

Give yourself the love & care & tenderness you need to continue on in your journey. Do it unapologetically, & feel proud of yourself for simultaneously balancing one of the trickiest feats of being human, that of healthy selfishness.