By Lisabet Sarai
When I first sat down to write this post, I was stumped, because in fact I don't really have a bucket list – a list of things I definitely want to do before I die. Don't take that wrong. I have fantasies and desires, just like anyone else. However, if I expired tomorrow - though I certainly hope that I don't! - I really couldn't complain. Life has given me more fabulous experiences than I ever expected.
From the time I was a kid, reading tales of faraway places and ancient civilizations, I always dreamed about traveling the world. Now I live in one of the most exotic countries on the planet. Meanwhile, I've visited Angkor, Dubrovnik and Machu Pichu, seen the emerald rice terraces of Bali and the steaming hot springs of Rotorura, stood awed by Sainte Chapelle and Borobudur, wandered in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar and the ancient lanes of Kyoto. I've still got plenty of places on my travel wish list – Egypt and the pyramids (though not just now!), the mountains and monasteries of Bhutan, the glittering palaces of St. Petersburg and the ruins of Tikal, to cite just a few examples. Still, I know it's unrealistic to believe I'll ever fulfill all my travel dreams, especially since I'm not wealthy. I don't mind.
Then there's sex. Anyone who reads this blog probably already has far more information than they'd ever want about my sex life. Growing up chubby, bookish, shy and insecure, I would never have believed that I could be sexually attractive – or sexually free. History smiled on me. I came into my prime during the best possible period, after the Pill and before AIDS. As it turned out, I was actually something of a sex goddess for a couple of hectic years. Who would have thought it possible?
Are there erotic activities I haven't sampled, that I want to try? Of course. Although I consider myself bisexual, I've never had more than fleeting experiences with a woman lover. The schedule of deviant activities that my master and I have discussed but never attempted gets longer all the time. With me married and with half a world between us, we both know these are unlikely though entertaining fantasies. I doubt my sixty year old knees and back could handle the physical reality in any case. None of this is bucket list material, in my opinion. As I understand the concept, a bucket list chronicles things you theoretically could do, but haven't managed yet. It's unlikely I could bear a real-life caning, as much as the idea excites me.
Fame and material success? Well, I never wanted to be rich (except maybe when I was spinning travel fantasies for myself) and I still feel that way. I've experienced the thrill of seeing my name on the spine of multiple books (which in fact was not one of my youthful dreams). In my professional life, I've won a few awards and earned the respect of my peers. I'm not sure that I'd want more fame than I have, given the trade-offs involved – extra worry about staying on top and compromised privacy.
Love? I've had that for more than thirty years, even though marriage was not on my list of things to do in my life. Sometimes we just don't know how things will work out.
One dream I had as a kid that I haven't fulfilled is going into outer space. I suppose that might still come true, given recent developments. Do I want that enough to work toward making it a reality? Probably not.
So I really wasn't sure how to respond to our fortnightly theme. I searched my heart for some burning desire that was feasible but not yet fulfilled, something I would regret not doing if I knew my life would end tomorrow. And then it hit me.
I want to meet you guys. I wanna party with my fellow erotic authors.
Living in Asia is fabulous, but as an author I'm horribly isolated. I can't tell anyone I know about my literary identity. I can communicate with my peers only via electronic means. Meanwhile, I read about author conferences, gatherings, open mikes and other meat-space social events with deep envy.
I would have done almost anything to attend the EAA conference in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. The roster of participants included so many of you whom I've “known” for ages, but never met. Then, just this June, my UK colleagues Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse organized their Smut by the Sea event, a day for erotica authors and readers at Scarborough Beach (definitely on my travel to-do list, after reading Victoria's descriptions). To join them, along with K.D. Grace, Lily Harlem, Liz Coldwell, Justine Elyot, and all the other outrageous British authors I love – that would definitely have been a dream come true.
Indeed, I have been fortunate enough to meet a few of you, mostly briefly. Jean, I don't know if you even remember our having a drink with Rachel KB during that heady eight months I lived in New York City, before my cross-world relocation. Daddy X, Mommy X, DH and I shared a fabulous dinner a couple of years ago, during their perambulations in Asia. I was delighted to meet both Desiree and J.P. in LA during the 2011 Romance Times convention, at an amazing party organized by our publisher Total-E-Bound.
On the other hand, I've never had any face-to-face time with Garce. I think I've read everything he's ever written (at least, that he's shown to the world) and edited a good deal of it. We've exchanged long, soul-searching emails. He's helped me through rough times with my writing and my real world life, too. Separated as we are by space and our respective requirements for anonymity, a meeting seems improbable – but it's on my list.
Sacchi, we lived less than ten miles from one another for years, and never knew it! And Amanda – I've known you for at least a decade through ERWA. I've learned a great deal about you, and from you, since you've joined the Grip. What a pity you're in Canada and I'm here in the faraway Orient! I think we have a lot in common.
Giselle, you're a relatively new acquaintance, but I'm sure we'd have fun exchanging kinky stories. And Lily, I haven't known you long at all – but your attendance at my bucket list party is definitely required.
You're all geographically dispersed, of course. So perhaps what I want is three parties – or maybe four. One on the east coast of the U.S. One on the west coast. One in Canada (though given the size of that country, it might be easier for you to travel to the closest coast!) And finally, a bash in the UK. I'm dying to meet former Gripper Ashley Lister, who lives in Blackpool and whom I've know forever. And then there's Portia da Costa, the author whose work first inspired me to write Raw Silk.
Indeed, there are quite a few ex-members from Get a Grip whom I'd love to meet in the flesh. Kristina Wright, who bared her soul here for several years. The elusive and talented Charlotte Stein. The talented and unconventional Helen Madden, whom I miss terribly. Michelle Houston. Although she has crafted a bunch of covers for me since she left the Grip, we're strangers in the so-called real world. Devon Rhodes, who in her alternative incarnation has edited at least a dozen of my books.
Katherine Bradean, of course I want you there too. Our hour-long coffee meeting wasn't nearly long enough!
You're all invited. All the members of the ERWA blog members, also. I've met RG and M. Christian, but many of the rest of you are just much-admired names. And Bob Buckley (who hails from Massachusetts like me, but whom I've never met), Rose, Valentine, Dangerous Bill, Big Ed, D.L. King, all of my friends and colleagues from the Writers list. And of course Adrienne, founder of ERWA. I want to put faces with your names.
Clear your schedules. I want you all there.
We'll drink wine and talk about books, poetry, sex and life. We'll gossip about publishers and share story ideas. We'll dance – or at least, I will. In my opinion, it's not a party without dancing.
Of course, in reality, I know the parties I imagine probably aren't possible, for reasons of logistics. However, I'm going to commit to meeting as many of you as I can, individually if necessary, before I kick the bucket. And the next EAA conference – I'm going to work my butt off to get there.
I think that's something worth living for.