By: Serena Li
[vol. 1] I fucked up.
2am. I wandered alone on the streets in Barcelona and cried like a baby. Pedestrians gave me strange looks, and a nice bar tender offered me a glass of sangria and asked if I was ok.
The city went black with only some occasional dim yellow street lights next to Gaudí’s Casa Milá, flickering in the gloom.
That was the moment I realized I fucked up.
[vol. 2] A control freak’s pessimistic take on human nature.
I’m a hopeless Romantic. Not in the pink bubbly cutsey love all around way, but the Romeo and Juliet are Romeo and Juliet because they died in the end way, the Gatsby is Gatsby because Daisy didn’t love him back way, the Jack and Rose are Jack and Rose because they didn’t end up together way, the Edgar Ellen Poe Fall of the House of Usher way.
There’s always a hint of sadness in my perfect type of Romance, they somehow all end with tragedy and loss of control.
I did not like losing control.
Humans are selfish, short-sighted beings. We cover ourselves in pieces of colorful fabrics, invent tools, and implement social hierarchies and pretend like this separates us from other animals.
Stripping away all the flamboyant civilization packaging, what is our nature?
Sex, to me, was just a shot of dopamine that sometimes also conveniently fulfilled our reproductive purposes. Nothing else.
[vol. 3] Gaze.
Flickering candles. Our silhouette on the walls. White sheets. Your gaze.
Your hand on my skin. My hair. My face. My throat.
You pinned me down exactly how you wanted me. You covered my eyes with my shirt and whispered in my ears. You knew every inch of me better than I did. You made me beg for you over and over.
And I gave in so easily.
—— And just like any other summer, without knowing, you took a piece of me.
[vol. 4] Fight or flight?
I snapped back to reality and the unfamiliarity was alarming.
This is not ok. I thought to myself. The overflowing dopamine flooded the guards I spent years to build. And all that’s left is a piece of exposed soft tissue that — if you wanted, you can easily stump on — and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take.
Commitment issues kicked in 4am and I booked a one-way flight to Europe. I left without saying goodbye.
Yet somehow halfway around the world, my head was only barely above water.
[vol. 5] Giving in.
Most romantic things are not meant to be perfect, and are not meant to bring plain happiness to people. They are more complex than that. They probably bring you pain more often than pleasure, but oh how they linger on and imprint those feelings like a gentle stump on your amygdala.
Plain happiness and sense of security is overrated. They are just the byproducts of modern capitalization and institutionalized belief that humans must strive for the materials, instruments, and practices that resemble a state of pleasure and contentment.
[vol. 6] A journey to sensuality.
There is freedom in giving up control.
Perhaps that’s the beauty in sensuality. It’s not plain sexuality, or pleasure, or pain, or insecurity, or happiness.
It’s the complexity of them all. It’s emotional, it’s vulnerable.
It’s a blessing and a curse to feel it all.
I guess I’m ready now. I’m all opened up. All exposed.
I’m soft. I’m vulnerable. I’m free.
It’s yet another summer.
Now take me.
Original photo by Justin Rosenberg @jsrphotos