It’s five minutes to two on a Friday afternoon. With my light lunch over, I run through my mental checklist again: showered, shaved, groomed, my toiletries bag packed, my schedule blocked off for the rest of the day. By now you’d think this would be more routine than ritual, but it isn’t; I still get nervous every time I see Lucy.

Breathe, I tell myself.

A year ago this would’ve just been another wild daydream born out of a twenty year old fantasy, the kind of thing you know happens–but not to you. Today though, it’s reality. My reality. Today, I get to submit to a woman so electrifying that the air practically crackles when she enters the room. She is imaginative and playful and intoxicating, every bit the flame to my moth. And, even though she can flay me open with just a glance, I always feel safe.

For me that’s where my BDSM journey began: wanting to feel safe. As a cynic and an introvert, it’s always been hard to separate the safety given by others from the safety I’ve given myself by building up walls and pushing people away. But in forfeiting parts of myself to Lucy–my ability to move or to hear or to speak or to resist–I forfeit the opportunity the build *any* wall or push *anyone* away. It forces me to be open, to trust. To be myself and nothing more.

I stare into the mirror and look myself in the eyes. Time to go.

Outside the streets are full of people playing parts and wearing masks. Maybe that’s what they think of me, too. But inside I know I’ve never felt more myself in my life.