You’ve written me dozens of love letters. I spent awhile searching the public history of our friendship because it started very publicly and what I realize is that you tell me just what it is I do for you and to you. I never have to wonder about the effect I have on you. I know where I stand. We are so entangled and that entanglement centers around art, creation, eroticism, seduction, love, sensuality and power. And, my dear…it all started four years ago with a single tweet. YES! In fact, in a few weeks, we will be celebrating our four year friendship anniversary. And I only know that because of twitter.
First, I need to tell you something. We almost maybe didn’t meet. Though I think our powers would have found a way to draw each other in, in one sense, we almost did not meet. You may not know this but a few months prior to our first encounter, I was laid off from my Wall Street job. I loved it but I also was ready to go but the paycheck and the company culture kept me there until one day, they just let me go because the company had “restructured.” I had some savings but enough to know I had to use it for rent and utilities over the next few months. I knew I had a LARGE severance coming but that it would take a few months to get in. So I was watching my pennies. Then I saw a link for an event called Blographer which was a conference for bloggers & photographers. I loved everything about it but felt like it would be “too much” to pay the $75 ticket. So I didn’t. But literally everyday I went to the event page pinning after a ticket. But I didn’t have that severance check yet and I wasn’t even sure what it would be. But everyday in June and July I looked at the Blographer website. And I knew I needed to be there. I thought I needed to be there to take my blogging and photography to the next level. I just knew it would help elevate my brand. So at the last possible minute, I said, “fuck it” and bought a ticket.
That urge to be there…it had shit to do with blogging and photography. I now realize that urging was our energy telling us it was time to be drawn together. I know that now. Because I only remember certain aspects of what I learned at the event…though I blogged a three part series. But what I know…what I remember…what has stayed with me and changed my life….is you. You were why I pinned after that $75 ticket, technically unemployed but no fucks given. I know that now. As fate would have it, once we arrived at the conference, they decided they wanted it to be free and gave us all gift certificates for the price of the ticket. Karma may be a bitch, but I think we are the dominatrixes.
Funny enough, we didn’t even meet in person that day. At least from what I remember. Being the social media addict I am, of course I was all over twitter and facebook engaging with the official hashtag. And by searching the event hashtag #blographer, I was blessed with the one and ONLY, Jessica Lark. You asked a simple question.
And I didn’t know you from the man on the moon…but I answered back. (Read from bottom to top.)
One of the first things, I ever said to you via a social media platform for an event we both were at was, “My goal is to learn to tell better stories in my images. My values are authenticity & expression. I love to talk about spirituality, sensuality, sexuality and freedom in everything. Overall my goal is to inspire others to live authentic and powerful lives.”
You responded back in kind. (Again, read from bottom to the top.)
The main message I got from you was, “You and I will get along just fine.”
I want to alter my statement a bit. “My goal is to learn to tell better stories….” Jessica, you are the reason that I tell and live better stories. You brought my goal to life. Shit….I became a part of your stories. Numerous ones. We will get to that.
Our friendship quickly unfolded and grew. We became facebook friends. But not the everyday “acquaintance” type. We have the same ideas around the power of social media and around art and around conversations and connections and quickly, we were so into each other and our philosophies and more. So much so that a few months later, you wrote me the following.
“Sheena is my personal sexual muse, sometimes in a quietly seductive way, and sometimes in a tear the clothes from your ego kind of way, but she writes the feelings behind much of my photographs… I love when the internet allows people to connect and effect each other like that.” ~ Jessica Lark, January 2013
Just a month later, I posted the following on your facebook wall.
Another month later, and I was on a train heading to upstate New York. Was this the first time we finally met in person? If so, fucking insane. Because this would mean the first time I met you in person was under these circumstances. I wrote the following on facebook.
“30 minutes until I’m standing in front of 100+ people in my underwear for Jessica Lark. My fantasies are coming true one at a time. I’m not at a fetish party…though some of you may think it. It’s actually a photography conference and Jessica’s two hour presentation is “Artistic Seductions – The allure of the intimate portrait.” The important part is that I get to be in my panties in public.” – Sheena LaShay, April 2013
Our friendship kept growing. We kept musing off each other. We kept inspiring each other. We kept teaching each other. We kept watching each other. Three months later, you sent me another love note.
“Dear Sheena L. Young I am so glad our paths crossed last year. If anyone is on the same level of thought with eroticism and sexuality and the allure of the feminine spirit it is you girlfriend. Actually, you don’t know this but one of your videos with one of the pole dancing instructors inspired part of this book. While feeling a bit of writers block I went searching for inspiration and found one of your videos in which she said “My Erotic Creature” At that point I had simply been calling it Spirit in terms of the light within women that illuminates sexuality… so from that came the erotic spirit, and the second half of the book pretty much wrote itself.” – Jessica Lark, July 2013
Our friendship kept growing. We kept musing. We kept inspiring. We kept teaching. We kept sharing. We kept baring our souls. And at random times, you’d send me love notes.
“Just dropping by to say I’m watching you kill it lately and as always super proud of you, and in lust with your alpha female business finesse sex appeal Hope you’re well!” – Jessica Lark, March 2014
In June of 2014, you went outside of your mind and wrote me the most epic love letter of all time. I’m sharing the full transcript here. Also by this time I’d had sleepovers at your house and had joined one of your project teams as a creator. Still, I carry this love letter with me daily.
“My Love Letter for the Day:
I Met Sheena L. Young through a hashtag. We were both attending the blographer event in NYC and her tweets were snarky, and salacious simultaneously. I instantly loved her, and connected with her after. People are so quick to judge about everything. We spend hours on the internet but turn our noses up to what a tech culture we have become. I often hear such statements as “I’d NEVER be desperate enough for online dating” “Ugh we’re using hashtags now” “if only she was who she pretended to be online” “Put down your phone and play with your kids” As if in any moments you witness ever tell you who someone is in the absence of personal intimacy and interaction.
I’ve come to the conclusion, like everything else in life, anything you say, about anything or anyone tells me more about you and who you are than it does about the subject of conversation. Like all other things outside of you everything is a tool; it is your choice whether you use it to build or break things, for good or evil, if you sharpen weapons to attack and invade, or defend what you love.
I met Sheena through a hashtag. Several years ago now. I instantly loved her and the more we connected the more my infatuation and affection deepened. What we see is what is within us, and I love her I think because she is parts of myself I wish I was more often, and more unapologetically. She’s given me a good amount of quiet courage and strengthening, simply by being her sexual, intelligent, genuine self. She inspired me a lot while writing the book, and has been exactly who I coveted with The Reliquarian project during its conception, molding it’s form into a gorgeous presence, sometimes purposefully and sometimes by unknown extension… It’s a different kind of intoxication, not so much that she inspires projects, but she inspires my sense of self, and my self is then poured into my artistry. She is a muse because she shares with the world all her muses, and the way she looks at things shows the hidden magic in things I see as ordinary, even when the ordinary is simply myself. If femininity and Eroticism and Intellect were interwoven into one physical manifestation it would be this woman… she is a librarian of all things fierce and I consistently look forward to what she will share with me, and she brings me things like this, and they water my soul and encourage me to grow. Loudly.” – Jessica Lark, June 2014
This letter killed my ego. This letter opened me up. This letter humbled and honored me. This letter covered me with so much love. You wrote this letter as I approached the ten year anniversary of the death of James Franklin Pyles. You didn’t know this. This letter kept me from regressing because I wanted to crawl into myself. If you go through my archives on his birthday and the anniversary of his death, I always write a letter to him. That June I did not. I was regressing. My grief brought about silence. I was questioning everything. And your letter, it was my saving grace. By December of 2014, I finally had the courage to write about him again.
“My goal is to learn to tell better stories….” Jessica, you are the reason that I tell and live better stories.”
I was able to keep telling my story of James because of the way you loved me.
While you always showered me with praise and love and sweetnothings, I tended to come down hard on you. Not in a bad way. But I know the power of your art and your business. So I’d critique your pictures like I was an asshole with a hint of grace. So much so, you’d write things like the following.
“Sheena told me exactly what I needed to hear today, in a tough love, riding crop in hand kinda way… and after licking my wounds I went back to the beginning and redid it and it is blowing the original out of the water… so Thank you Miss SLY.” – Jessica Lark, August 2014
The ass kicking didn’t last for long. You never took it personally. Sometimes you’d fight back a little. But you took it with grace and grit and made shit better. And then, we’d find ourselves in conversations like these….
Jessica: Well since he belongs to you…..
Sheena: He doesn’t “belong” to me. No man or woman “belongs” to me unless I’m their dominatrix and they are my little bitch. But other than that, no.
Jessica: I don’t imagine any man crosses your path without some part of him belonging to you whether you like it or not… You are the kind of woman that belongs to no one and so everyone wants to belong to you, even if only for the moment
~ Jessica and Sheena, October 2014
You muse me, my dear. You muse me effortlessly and profoundly and esoterically and spiritually and erotically with grace and grit.
Our friendship kept growing. Our conversations grew deeper. Our art kept evolving. Our entanglements got so deep.
Then in March of 2015, I was reprimanded for my Siren ways because of my boudoir and pole dancing pictures on instagram via my corporate job by a coward. But it shook me. I’ve been reprimanded before. I’ve had my share of critiques. Bitches out there see me as the Black Jezebel cockblocking their blessings because they don’t know the difference between liberation and lunatics. Though I do worship the moon. But I’m used to the backlash. But something about this one shook me. So much that for a second I made myself small. You saw it and you refused to let me be anything but myself. So you wrote me another love note.
“You are a force to be reckoned with… so are hurricanes, and volcanoes and violent storms… the meek will always fear greatness, others will appreciate the beauty of its majesty… if they see anything but beauty it tells you more about them than it does you Girlfriend… Don’t you DARE let anyone else’s insecurities be the reason you quiet your voice… that voice is how you built your following in the first place. Appeasing them simply dilutes the potency the rest of us love you for, and we love you far more fiercely than they dislike you… it’d only dishonor those who love you and say those who don’t matter more. Never. – Jessica Lark, March 2015
I remembered who I was because you reminded of what my story was. Thank you.
Later that year, after one of our Reliquarian Sleepover Retreats, I kicked your business ass again with some much needed advice.
“Best advice I’ve received lately: ‘One of the mantras I live by is ‘Don’t fuck with my money.’ If what you are doing is endangering or threatening my success you’re gone; it’s not personal, it just means we need to renegotiate the terms of your involvement in my life.’ Sheena LaShay was dealing out some much needed tough love this weekend and it’s been ringing in my ears since she left.” – Jessica Lark, December 2015
This is us my dear. This is who we are together. This happened because you dared to tweet and I wrote back. And though we have met several times in person and I’ve slept in your home and played with your children and celebrated your birthday, almost the entirety of our friendship has happened over twitter and facebook. And its been deep and unruly and powerful and erotic and artistic and creative and soulful and tough and vulnerable. Now, I am yours. I’d follow you anywhere. Whatever it took to get to you, to muse with you, to be inspired by you, to assist you…I’d find a way to you. Remember how I had always indicated I’d come to the third anniversary of the Reliquarian. Then we were a week out and I realize I didn’t even know where the fuck I was going. I didn’t know what state it was in. I didn’t know what transportation I’d take. I didn’t even have anything to sleep in. I was lost. But I was excited.
That’s how I ended up at blographer too. I’d just lost a very financially awesome job. I didn’t know when more money would come in. I felt lost but I was excited. I just knew I had to get to that conference. Now I know it was because I had to get to you.
I love you. I know you love me. We are each other’s artistic erotic spiritual muses. You bring out my wild and my magic. And when I regress, you grab me by the throat with a satin scarf and you bring me back to myself. When I feel like I need to quiet my voice, you tell my story until I find the strength to tell it myself. I am the women I am today because of you. To know me…to understand me….the world would have to know that in August of 2013, Jessica Lark wrote a tweet that changed the trajectory of my life.
I’ve got one more love note to share. Jessica Lark is the Creator of The Reliquarian, of which I’m a team member and also now a character. Here’s my latest love note.
“At this the woman came forward and untied the cloak from her neck, and in one fluid motion emerged, as it cascaded to the ground like a charcoal fabric waterfall. Its absence revealed her ebony skin, painted with strange markings that accentuated all the curves and lines of her body. She wore jewelry that adorned her flesh in place of clothing, made of metal, teeth and bone. Her hair was a chaotic mess of braids and curls and her expression was impossible to understand and impossible to ignore; there was a regality to it that far exceeded that of their tribal chief. She was Völur, a shaman, a seer, a priestess. She was wand-wedded, and she was a fierce some, beautiful thing to behold. #reliquarian #excerpts. Sheena LaShay, this would be your character I’m writing.” – Jessica Lark
Jessica, the day I e-met you, I wrote, “ “My goal is to learn to tell better stories in my images. My values are authenticity & expression. I love to talk about spirituality, sensuality, sexuality and freedom in everything. Overall my goal is to inspire others to live authentic and powerful lives.” I am able to live out my life goals because of my friendship with you. Thank you, from every ounce of my heart and the totality of my being.
Two other quotes I love from Jessica
“….to love someone so much that you trust them to see you in all your moments, when you are beautiful and broken….” – Jessica Lark
“To love without needing to possess is a rare gift, but not for the weak of heart.” – Jessica Lark
You Should Also Read
20,000 Tweets and Counting – You might think social media is bullshit but here’s a post showing other ways it has affected my life
Lord of Light – I wrote a love letter to Charles King. The only reason I know Charles is because Jessica introduced us
#32LoveLetters is a 32 day blog post challenge leading up to my 32nd birthday, I am writing letters to the people in my life who contributed to me becoming fully myself as a Wild Magical Woman. If someone were to write a biography about me…which they will, it’s imperative that chapters are focused on these 32 people. They have had a profound, lasting and influential effect on my life. I can not tell my own story without telling you of theirs.