Dear lovely readers,
Today is my last day at Nerve.
I’m great at beginning things. I’m shit at ending them. I have trouble throwing away old condiments. I let them sit in the fridge for ten months after their expiration, allowing them to gather that weird, sticky ring on the bottom. I contact my exes regularly. I wonder how their sister’s doing, what kind of pilling sweater they’re wearing today. I still own the ripped, multi-colored t-shirt that I was wearing the day I lost my virginity. On second thought, I should probably retire that.
But Nerve doesn’t feel like spoiled ketchup or an ex boyfriend’s haircut or even a frayed souvenir of a fleeting and energetic teenage lust. It’s always been something much more present and necessary. That’s why it changed me. In my application for Nerve (which I’ll handily pull up, thanks Gmail), I claimed that I was a good fit for what should be considered the first online sex magazine because “my mind is perma-fixed in the gutter.” I ended it with a crude plea: “Please, Nerve, let me become assless* from working so hard for you.” Somehow the generous editors, neither under the influence of erotic hypnosis nor Quaaludes, decided to hire me as an intern. And I just never left. Seriously, this internship is still going on.
I couldn’t be gladder or prouder to have worked on Nerve for these last few years. Two months after I was hired, I was sitting in a Planned Parenthood and spotted a poster that said: “Sex is an essential part of life.” Simple. It was the first real time my intellectual fixation on the prurient, my reason for being at Nerve, felt fully articulated.
People at large show a supreme cowardice, shame, and revulsion when talking about sex — the thing that got them on this planet, that they did last weekend, that just flashed in the corner of their imagination, oiled up and writhing, when they were reading the sentence before this one. It’s my understanding that sexual impulses, habits, and desires are the most efficient and illuminating vehicle for exploring our weird, troubling, and fibrous inner lives. Accepting the nature of sex is a requisite for understanding the adventurous and contradictory storyline that is being human. Desire and love, those big Greek and Roman marquees, get at the pressing and universal life questions that prod us all at night — why are we here? why do we do this? why am I waking up to do it yet again?
I think it’s in those brief moments of sexual exploration that we truly lose ourselves. Or maybe, if I am being completely honest and quit steering away from the sentimental Kumbayas, it’s within sex and love and the fearless giving into both that we actually find ourselves.
It’s a hard thing to write in public, especially when you’re talking about your own lusting guts or examining other people’s. It’s easy to become wrapped up in criticism or paralyzed with our own feelings of inauthenticity or unworthiness, our own Imposter Syndrome. But a world without personal, honest narratives is a dull one. It’s also terribly alienating for the rest of us, who hunger to know if you too have felt that same longing, sorrow, or thrill that we have when we enter human relationships. That’s what Nerve, its past editors, contributors, and readers have declared with the richness of their voices.
It may be a great thing that I don’t sit well with endings, because I’m not nearly done with Nerve in my heart. That’s okay. I am good at being unsatisfied. I want to keep waking up to want, and am gratified to hear the stories of others as they travel through the murk of their interminable desires, which if I know anything, will be far different than my own. So, Nerve, I’m not leaving you. Think of me like the lover who’s kicked back your sheets and stolen away to the window in the middle of the night. Still searching, still wanting.
I’ve always thought that life is happy because it is a go-looking-for and not a found.
That’s it for me. I’ll leave you all with some of my old pieces, selected by my friends and colleagues:
Why I Will Never Sleep with an On the Road Fanatic
The Night I Watched Porn Like Your Grandparents Did
Meet the Modern-Day Masters of Sex
You Should Remember 2014 as the Year Gender Relations Exploded
I Never Wanted to See Louie Fall in Love
* The author, despite years of employment at the publication, has not been rendered assless.