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This project is done. I can feel it.

But it’s still nice to know that a girl has options. It’s nice to know that a sheltered, suburban girl can navigate her way through the crowded and dangerous adult industry and emerge pretty much intact—and not only intact, but a better person.

I have a darling apartment that is all mine, one that I never could have afforded without my porn work. I have a much better sense of my own sexuality. I know myself a lot more. I know what I need, what scares me, what thrills me, and what I crave. I have a better appreciation for myself and for the complicated dynamics between men and women.

I also think I’m a more intelligent person for it all. I’m tougher and smarter and more aware than I was before. I’ve met people and seen things a girl like me might go her whole life without ever finding. I’ve made up for being a sheltered white girl. I can go back to being responsible, but I’ll never go back to being ignorant. I’ve seen too much—of other people and myself—to fall into the same traps, and hopefully I will find a sexual partner who will let me keep pushing the limits and trying new things.

I have to thank the porn world for teaching me the difference between loving and fucking. Some people spend their whole lives unable to tell which is which.

For a long time, I also couldn’t tell the difference between love and need. I’ve learned so much about the dynamics between people, about why certain people need the things they do, that I can now take a step back, just to watch.

I’ve learned what it means to love someone and what it means to need someone to love you. I don’t need to date my father. I don’t need to find a parent. I don’t need a pile of cash to make me feel important. I’ve learned how to find my own fantasies and not be afraid of becoming them. I can become whatever, and whomever, I want, even if only for a night.

I don’t miss the feeling of the dirty bills against my skin. I’ve scratched that itch, I’ve lived through it, and since it no longer seems out of reach, I don’t crave it. I’ve discovered my sexuality, and now I crave something else—I crave a lover, at home, to watch me put on a solo show.

Helen Gurley Brown shot to stardom with the radical notion that sex is good, that sexy is great, and that making the most of your sex life means making the most of you. So many commentators from both sides of the fence (Republicans to feminists) lecture against the virtues of sexuality—shouting on about how it objectifies and degrades—but Ms. Brown, Anais Nin, and my own experiences have taught me the virtues of the short skirt and the thrill of being seen as a woman, which, in turn, means the thrill of being seen as a sexual being, in control of my sexuality, in control of myself, and in control of those around me.

I don’t need to see a room full of drunken leers to remind me that I’m desirable and therefore powerful. I have already discovered that I am. Now all I need is one pair of eyes to look at me with love and desire. If I can get that, I’ll never want anything again.