Well, another IML has come and gone. Today is Thursday and I finally feel ready to write about it. Yes, I returned to Minnesota on Tuesday. It's been 36 hours and I'm finally ready to write about it.
The event was everything it has ever been to me the previous two times I've been there. It was fun, thrilling, intoxicating, satisfying, depressing, painful, and chaotic. But most of all, it was an eye-opening experience just as it usually is.
Despite the weekend being one big leather/sex fest with a random beauty pagent/contest thrown into the works, I have learned something major about myself every year I've gone and subjected myself to the torment that is IML. I'm pretty sure the weekend was not set out to be an educational session at a university. It never was. But the amount of growth that has occurred in my personal journey year after year has been astounding.
But to keep myself from getting too deep, I'll stop to interject that I also had lots and lots of kinky sex. ;)
It's an exhausting experience. I don't even know how it managed to happen, but I woke up by 10am each day we were there. I spent a decent amount of time working for Leatherati, which is something I never mind doing. I know that people are reading the posts on Leatherati Live so that gives me great motivation to keep going. I know that not everyone can be there with us.
Exhausting. By the time Tuesday morning arrives, the last thing I want to do is pack up, clean, or load the car. This year, there were twelve guys staying in our suite so we had quite a bit of packing and cleaning to do. We all go through each and every piece of gear laying around in the suite and make sure it all ends up in the right bag. We listen to music and recap the weekend while we do this, together, slowly packing away another new chapter in each of our lives. Once the entire room is clean and packed, we take one final moment to pour one last drink (usually mimosas) and toast to our brotherhood and another successful weekend at IML together.
We ate lunch, and then comes the long 6 hour drive back to Minnesota. That drive can be kind of relaxing in a lot of ways. We discuss what we liked, what we didn't like, ways we could change things for next year, and of course, what we learned.
Pup Trigger, my best friend and eternal partner in crime, has driven with me every year so far. This is good for two reasons: one, we cram so much gear into my Tahoe that we almost need a crowbar to fit it all in, and two, the conversation leads us to realize what we learned.
We dropped off the two guys who rode down along with us at around 9:30 or 10 at night. It's quiet in the car. It's just me and my brother and the silence and the moonlight and our exhausted bodies. The car was stopped. It's time to get out and unpack or something...but neither one of us could. We sat there. Frozen. Opening the car door and getting out would mean it's all over for another year, and neither one of us wanted to let that go.
We both agreed that this IML was one in which we each made incredible discoveries about leather, about kink, about contests, and about ourselves. But where are we now?
I told him that I felt like we were at a point in life where we were standing at the edge of a cliff. Turning back isn't an option now. We can only move forward; we have to find a way to get across the chasm and continue the journey on the other side. The distance between the cliffs is just barely barely close enough so that a huge jump across has a probability of success, but includes the possibility of failure. But the rock face is also scalable.
So what are the options at this point? Well, one option is to climb down the side of the cliff, walk across the bottom of the chasm, and find a way to scale up the other side. The other option, of course, is to get a running start, jump hard, and pray that you get close enough to the other side to grab on for dear life and pull yourself up.
We're on the edge of something big here in Minnesota. There's an opportunity before us at this time which may never present itself again. Therein lies the most important lesson of IML this year; this is our decision. No one is ever going to make it for us. If we take the time to scale the rock face, by the time we get to the other side, it will be too late.
No more excuses. We'll figure it all out. The decision is already made. We both know it. And to get the boost that we need, we're going to look to the same place we always have when we need it.
I look across to my brother, and yes, I do it with a tear in my eye. "Let's jump," I said. "Together."
We're on to something big here. More details soon. Thank you to everyone for an amazing IML.