Saturday, I received one of the most amazing gifts of my life from my friends and family around the CAPEX community. I have been an active part of this community for ten years now. I’ve seen the club at its best, at its worst, and everywhere in-between. Salad days, growing pains, bitter “winters”… and at least three re-births after everyone declared the club dead. For ten years now, I’ve been at CAPEX for at least seven or eight of the monthly events each year… and I’ve volunteered in some capacity at most of those. I’ve done pretty much every job there is… from carrying furniture around (I recall a couple of months back in ’03 when Ash and I were the entire set-up crew) to putting out fires (mostly metaphorical) to cleaning blood-spray off a hotel wall (ask Stick about that fun story some time)… making phone calls, fielding emails, driving the U-haul, going to meetings, writing and re-writing and re-re-writing the bylaws, bringing food, inventorying never-ending boxes of merchandise, building bridges, burning bridges, working the CAPEX table at cons, balancing the books, driving presenters to and from the airport, making and hanging decorations, turning a lot of miles on my odometer driving down to Charlotte and back (about 70 miles each way) – sometimes two or three times a month…
Through all this, and through the relationships I’ve built, I’ve grown. A lot! Ask those folks w/ really low contributor numbers (if you can find them) about that quiet, geeky, twenty-six year-old subby-boy who started lurking around in the background ten years ago. I knew nothing… except to watch, listen, and ask appropriate questions. Now I can say that I’ve taught classes at cons and clubs around the Southeast, and now I have people asking me for advice. The physical, social, intellectual, and emotional experiences I’ve had by way of the Charlotte-area BDSM community over the last decade have made me the puppy I am today. This community has shaped me beyond my ability to overstate.
Saturday, as I stated at the beginning, I was given one of the most meaningful gifts of my life. There have been a few times over the years that NCMaster, w/ the support of some key members of the BDSM scene, has given earned leather to someone in our community – boots or a vest. These gifts always come, not from the club itself (CAPEX doesn’t identify as a “leather” club), but from the community in and around it… which to me makes them all the more valuable than the join-the-club-and-get-the-vest variety. For me, however, they chose a variation on the tradition. Instead of leather, they gifted me w/ earned ink – a tattoo, in recognition of my decade of service. I have always wanted a tattoo but never got around to it, so it means so much to me that my first one comes as a gift from people I care for and respect and love. *wags*
A few quick thank you’s: NCMaster, you have been a tried-and-true friend to me personally and to our whole community… next time I see you, you have a great, big puppy-hug coming your way! Jade, you did an awesome job handling the presentation. Stick, you rock… and you are still the only man I’ve made-out w/ inside a coffin! (Doubt you can say the same.) Norm… I’ll always be grateful to you for locating my cell-mate’s watch. Thank you to my poly-family: CF and her husband (who drove all the way up from Atlanta just to see me get all teary-eyed in public). Most of all: Shdwkitten, my Owner, my companion, my best friend, my favorite person… I ruff you!
I know that this year my focus has shifted a little away from Charlotte. In search of new energy, new experiences, opportunities to grow and expand, I’ve been sniffing around the Atlanta leather community. A couple of months ago I was super-proud to be accepted into a pack of gay leather pups and now find myself in a situation where I am in service to both my wonderful Owner and an amazing Alpha pup – my Ma’am and my Sir. Although I am exploring new horizons, I certainly am not leaving the Charlotte scene behind. CAPEX and all the great people I’ve met there will continue to be an important part of my life, and I will always think of you as my home group. As I’ve begun to discover my identity as a leather-pup, the things I’ve learned from you and the inspiration you’ve given me will continue to serve me and motivate me to grow. The tattoo that I will wear on my skin will be a daily reminder of the fantastic community that I belong to.
Thank you, everyone.