Ayem Willing was one such man.
My fingers freeze up on the keyboard as I stare at that sentence and let it sink in. *Was* such a man. I breathe in and release. He’s gone.
Ayem would light up a room by walking into it. Unannounced. That was his favorite style – fly half way across the country and show up to a class with a smile on his face, waiting to see what reaction he would get.
It’s how he won me over. My favorite stalker. When I saw him in Chicago, then NYC, then DC… I thought it might be a coincidence. But when he showed up in San Francisco, my jaw dropped. He officially became my stalker, and I began to fall in love, one smile at a time.
Over the years at different times he was to be my student, stalker, friend, lover, submissive, top, adventure mate, fellow traveler, co-artist, model, stunt bottom, play mate, ally, shoulder, handyman, solace, and so much more. Hard to believe how much 7 years could hold. Not all of it was good. There were misunderstandings. Challenges. Endings and then beginnings.
I saw him last on Saturday the 18th. He and his partner Mercat drove up from Virginia to be part of a shoot for an upcoming book I am working on in New York. Ayem in my rope. Laughter. Connection. Pizza. A little slice of comfort and joy.
On Friday, August 24th, he was out riding his motorcycle. He had a green light. He did not survive the collision.
We found out on Saturday, when his partner put the word out. Three friends called me to make sure I found out from a voice, rather than on social media.
I mourn less for myself and more for those who will not have a chance to be touched by him in person.
And yet… I mourn for myself as well.
There is a ritual that will be taking place at FetFest in his memory this weekend (they are offering free Friday passes for folks who want to attend). September 9th there will be a wake at The Crucible in DC. There will be something in his honor at Shibaricon.
And how will I honor him? Show up at events unexpected and see who I can make smile with the surprise. Share laughter at stupid hours. Pay for friend’s dinners without letting them know. Wear pink. Appreciate hot guys in leather. Throw around a lot of rope. Step up to help other human beings. Tell my friends how much I appreciate them, as the live, as we all live.
My clay is shaped, molded, formed. And there my friend, there, I see your thumbprint in me.
Ayem Willing – 1970 – 2012 … Forever