Apr 1, 2022 • 5M

Alabama is deep

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Cathy Reisenwitz
A podcast which is me reading you my newsletter about power.
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Welcome to Sex and the State, a newsletter about power. I’m a writer working on decriminalizing and destigmatizing all things sex. I synthesize empirical evidence, stories, and personal experience to interrogate existing power structures to propose new, hopefully better, ways of relating. To support my work, buy a subscriptionfollow me on OnlyFans, or just share this post!


A few friends have asked me about how Alabama life is going. I’m sorry I’m so behind on my correspondence.

It’s fucking weird! It’s so different than SF. My Instacart deliveryperson gave me a pamphlet about Seventh Day Adventists. People talk very openly, a little too openly, about their religious beliefs. There was Contemporary Christian playing in the nail salon. I heard an ad for an attorney talking about his relationship with Christ.

The little pocket in my purse that used to hold baggies of drugs now contains the extra key to my niece’s journal that she kindly entrusted to me.

You can open a cooler, outside, and then take the drink to the counter to pay. Packages sit outside dwellings for days without getting stolen. People pay upfront for Facebook Marketplace items and then pick them up from the seller’s porch.

I’ve spent time socializing with a total of about 12 people, outside two munches, since I arrived. Huntsville, Alabama has a kink scene. But even that was different. I asked multiple people if Huntsville had any other sex-positive organizations and half of them looked at me like I was from another planet. Which, to be fair…

I’ve spent the vast majority of my social time with my boyfriend. The one who broke up with me shortly before I arrived.

At the ripe old age of 36 I’ve discarded monogamy, rediscovered it, discarded it again, tried it out again just to be sure, discarded it once more, and am now in the process of re-re-rediscovering monogamy.

What makes this time different (and I sure as fuck would want this time to be different), among other things, is that the agreement feels like more of a conversation than a dictate. I don’t feel under any duress. I don’t feel like I have to do this or I’ll lose something extremely valuable to me. A step back and some distance would be painful, but it’s not the end of the world if we decide we can’t align on this.

It feels like we are in the process of working together to find out where and how much we can align. We’ve agreed to the sometimes uncomfortable work of discovering what our ideal version of monogamy looks like.

And that process to me is far more important than any conclusion we might come to. I want to feel like we are two people working together to find solutions. I’m tired of feeling like two people are advocating for themselves until whoever feels like they have more to lose gives in.

It’s wonderful to be in love again. To enjoy the way the sun bleaches his hair and eyelashes. His light green eyes. His incessant jokes. The way he baby talks to his puppy. His orderliness. I always thought it would be hilarious if I ended up with some monogamous, traditional gender roles, conservative-leaning Alabama dude. And it is. It’s fucking hilarious.

I could find so much in SF, but I couldn’t find someone who really wanted to go deep with me.

I’ve been asking myself a lot of super hard questions lately. What do I want my life in Alabama to look like? How do I do my job and also create porn and write this newsletter when I’m coworking with friends every day? What am I willing to give up to be in this romantic relationship? How much can I give up until I lose what both of us loved about me? How highly do I value being in love relative to other goals? How big of a local social circle do I want to have? Who decides which streets get sidewalks here?

But it all feels like it’s for a purpose. I’m learning about myself as I try to figure this stuff out. I’m learning about what’s temporary and what’s more permanent. I worry my life will get too small and I’ll leave too much value on the table, let too many opportunities pass me by to have a more interesting, fulfilling, meaningful life. But the fact that I’m asking what size of a life I want is a hint that my desire for adventure isn’t so easily smothered.

Ultimately, some of the big questions I’m asking and answering are something along the lines of “What did I bring to Alabama with me from San Francisco and what did I leave there? And am I happy with the trade?”

Overall, life in Alabama is going well. I’m happy I moved here. The cost of living and having family nearby are such a relief. It feels like a burden I didn’t really fully realize I was carrying. Family drama has been more intense than I anticipated, but it feels good to be helpful on occasion. And I’ve enjoyed letting the dramas of my friends and family take up some of the brain space previously reserved for Twitter drama and politics. It feels more meaningful.

I truly have no idea what’s going to happen. I didn’t expect any of this six months ago. The possibilities here are narrower, yet harder to predict and therefore somewhat more exciting.

I think the theme I’m noticing is depth. My world is narrower here. But it’s deeper as well. I spend time with fewer people, but I’m getting to know them intimately. For a long time, I’ve wanted to get to know a few people much better and feel more interdependent and enmeshed with them. Pandemic helped with that. Moving to Alabama is helping tremendously.