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September 07, 2020 4 min read

Friends and lovers, customers and readers, I write to you from week, uh, something, of the now-extended Victorian metropolitan lockdown.

Here in the city, we have an 8 pm curfew, and restrictions on how far we can travel from our homes. I am grateful for all of my amazing customers, who continue to support Nikki Darling through this time, and grateful to be able to continue running my business when so many can not.

But oh how I miss the crackling of electricity that you felt in our city, the heady aroma of a dark club or warehouse, the feel of humans moving through a shared space, the smell of a freshly pulled beer in a bar or pub..  

As a sole trader, I had the absurd experience of having to create permitted travel documentation for myself as both 'employer' and 'employee', despite being neither of those things. I keep them in my glove box, in case I am pulled over by the police or military. It's an interesting experience and interesting times, to say the least.

The original plan for this year was to finally find Nikki Darling a brick and mortar home - a physical space to not only sell an expanded range of wares, but to really hone in on my intention to create community - a space for workshops and gatherings, film screenings and art events and so much more. 

This plan is obviously on hold for the foreseeable future, and reader, I am sad. Before I started Nikki Darling, I worked in a (now defunct) queer sex shop in Richmond, and one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work was being in a room with people and holding space for their uncertainty and nervousness, their excitement and joy, for all the complexity that is inherent to human sexuality.

Spending time with people and helping them make good choices for their sex lives, whether solo or partnered, was such a joy and I have missed it immensely since I started Nikki Darling - a business that has predominantly seen me stuck inside by myself glued to a computer screen. Popping up at events and markets and festivals has been a great way to maintain some of that energy, and to engage with people face to face, but of course even that has not been an option for most of this year, and will continue this way for the foreseeable future. 

All I have wanted since the inception of this business is to create the greatest, queerest, most sex-positive space this town has known. I still want this for Nikki Darling, more than you could know, and I hold out hope that once it is safe to do so I'll be able to keep working towards this dream.

In the meantime, I am, as always, here for you in the digital sphere - we can chat via email or on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you want a phone call, we can do that too. I love hearing from you, and I love the trust you have in me to hold space for your questions and fears, your desires and your joy. 

In amongst all of the hard feeling, I'm also thrilled to be connected to amazing people who are doing amazing things at this time - whether it is forging new ways to provide therapeutic support like SHIPS Psychology are doing, or bringing community-building storytelling events to a digital platform like Campfire Stories are doing - I am honoured to be connected to people who are putting so much good into the world.

I'm also excited for the people who have found that this year is a time to explore new facets of their sexual selves, or to reignite passions with live-in lovers, or find creative ways to maintain intimacy in the face of the virus and the restrictions we are now subjected to - the sheer ability of human innovation with regards to sex and connection awes me every day. 

And for those of us who are feeling anything but sexual - I honour that too, and I hope you are finding ways to be kind to yourself and to seek joy in whatever form it takes right now. Pleasure is radical and it need not be sexual.

The days are getting longer and the air smells fragrant and alive, and there is hope. I've been struggling with hope for myself, my loved ones and my planet, but the changing season is bringing about a change in my mood, and I am grateful for it.

From this week forward, I'll be trying to publish weekly blog posts from myself or from a guest blogger. I hope that this is another way we can connect, and I invite your feedback and engagement in the blog comments or via email. 

And if you are also in lockdown, or have friends and lovers who are, and you just want to chat about all that stuff with a peer - I am 100% here for you. 

Big love to you all,

xo Lauren

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