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It's always a surprise. Like a meteor, sometimes it comes as a brief, faint streak across the dark. A glance across the room, flicker of recognition, eyes quickly averted.
Sometimes, maybe once in a lifetime, maybe a few times, you see a falling star so bright it awakes your dreams. You wish upon it.
When I was a teenager I sat outdoors one night with my friend, Morgan, her family and mine to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We saw dozens, but most memorable was a bright pink blaze that traversed the whole arch of heaven with a scintillating tail.
So it changes your life.
Yesterday I e-mailed him: "While we are on the topic of comfort levels, may I request we discuss feelings?"
I suggested next week when we can do it in person, while we're both completely sober.
His response was welcoming, positive.
On the drive to work, sunlight glanced off my knuckles. I was filagreed in gold. Inward stars exploded. At once everything seemed possible, wonderful, terrifying. I felt the fog of writer's block lifting.
I wanted to be alone to write. I wanted to be with him. I wanted to call Danny and tell him.
Return to normal. Radio music scratches at mind's door. I struggle to wake up, roll uncomfortably out of bed and ache my way through cold rooms. Beyond the windows, the sky is an implacable grey.
Through the monotony of days, ecstasy is the exception. The door I felt opening--was it just my imagination?
Last night I received a message from him. I enjoyed reading it, but didn't feel any special eagerness to respond. I am already resettling into my habitual solitude.
Being my own self-contained self is okay, but I would prefer the adventure. It elevates me so.
So I pursue it. From the lessons of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, we understand that how we think affects how we feel. So rather than being a passive recipient of infatuation, I may choose to love someone.
That is what polyamory means to me: choosing to love, believing that faithfulness to the one(s) I love does not depend on monogamy. Relationships come and go, but this open-endedness does not diminish the quality of loving.
But my love for my primary partner is not up for negotitation. I need Danny in my life. He is part of who I am.
The object of my affection: he is average height, roughly the same as me, svelte and catlike. He coils under my caress. I expect he would purr if he could. He possesses the dark brown hair and beard I am so attracted to. He does not hesitate to show affection, and will reach out to fondle my beard in public places. He is clever, and seems to speak his mind readily and comfortably. His body hair is well distributed, not dense. He has a well-shaped, hairy ass and fine endowment, not exceptional but noteworthy, elegant. He is sexually intense.
He is attentive. When I engage with him via e-mail, I receive lots of feedback.
I'm not used to this. I tend to surround myself with introverted friends who don't expect much interaction. Even Danny and I have set a comfortable rhythm, corresponding every few days and phoning about once a week. To some observers it might appear strange, but it is enough to keep us happy. Of course, Danny does not live alone. I do.
What would it be like to get in a relationship with someone who requires more frequent communication? It might be good for me.
In front of the new city hall is a new ice rink. Sometimes late in the evening on my way home from a meeting, I pass a solitary woman practicing figure skating. The plaza is cast in semi-shadow. Around the outskirts, light snow drifts through glowing pools under street lamps.
It is so lovely, I tell him about it.
That is the sort of thing, he says, he would stop and watch for a while.
Here is something I miss about spending so much time alone: many times I perceive beauty and have no one to share it with.
Over the weekend new information turned my feelings on their head. I can't begin to explain in less than a thousand words. It is one of the complications of polyamory. You are not only giving your emotions away to an individual, but to a community of lovers. Supposedly it requires effective communication to be in a polyamorous relationship, but I know some who are poor communicators.
I immediately recoiled from the situation, not wanting to cross the boundary into muddy sea, not wanting to open my heart to getting hurt again. I had hoped it would be simpler than this.
He came last night. Everything felt fine while he was here.
I told him how I felt, how I would like to let those feelings lead me, let them grow. I told him about what I had learned (someone else he is involved with) and why I'm afraid of getting hurt.
He told me he has feelings, too, something unique, warm and fuzzy, and it is good.
You never feel quite the same for two different people. I like exploring the colours and flavours of love.
I haven't attempted to describe my feelings for him. It is hard to do.
The first morning I realized I was falling in love, I was full of the weight of continents, and light as the wind. It was one of those divinely crisp winter mornings, and the sky looked so fresh I could swim right into it. I could go anywhere, be anything, do anything. I was right in the heart of life, the furnace where metal is forged.
My feelings have mellowed, much more quickly than they used to. This body is too old to maintain that level of hormonal excitement. Now there is a quieter pleasure, confidence all will be well.
Fucking. I used to need it, but haven't done much of it the past few years. Now it is coming back into me emotionally and physically.
I remember how it felt to have him move inside me three nights ago. My body opens readily. It always has--I never experienced pain even the first time a man penetrated me when I was 31.
I receive him, and immediately he begins to thrust with increasing excitement. Bursts of pleasure respond from deep within me. I exult in his hunger, a wordless, animalistic drive. The boundary between our bodies seems to dissolve.
Then I fucked him. That is not as natural for me because a lot of men can't take me, so habitually I'm afraid of hurting them. But he was relaxed and comfortable, so I could take my time. I like to go close to climax, then lie still, just enjoying the sensation of being inside him. When the orgasm comes, nothing else is moving. It is just a deep pulse, shared between us.
Afterward we lay still a long time, holding one another, talking. I like how easy it is to talk to him about deep things, not the superficial.
When I was young I used to get infatuated with women, too, but while my feelings for men grew unbearable under the lock of silence, my attraction to women had to be nursed. Still, it happened. Either way, I was deeply self-absorbed.
Once I told one of the girls who went to my church (this was at University Bible Studies) how I felt about her, assuming she would feel the same and want to date me.
Her response was bewildering, "What about me?"
I didn't understand. She was bewildered, too, and kept repeating the question.
Now I get it.
Powerful emotions can motivate all kinds of behaviour, many of them selfish. Adoration turns easily to loathing, affection to jealousy. Infatuation is absorbed in getting what it wants and needs, losing sight of the one desired. I'm not saying we should deny ourselves what we want and need. The challenge is to turn this passion to generosity, so it may evolve a love guided by mutual exchange of ideas, companionship, tenderness and pleasure. This seems like common sense, but it is not easy to do, especially if you are in the habit of protecting your own interests at others' expense.
Since hearing my chorus perform McLachlan's "Angel", he has twice compared me to one. When I offered help with something, he said, "one of these days I'm going catch a glimpse of your
The first man I ever had a relationship with turned out rotten. He was charming and often called me an angel, but if I criticized him he would lose his temper, blame me for the problem, and call me worthless.
"You're a sociopath," he said.
After I broke it off, he harrassed me. Finding me in a bar or on the street, he would follow me.
He was the only really harmful man I dated. What am I saying? Even decent people can hurt you, and you can be decent and still hurt the ones you love. Afterward I went through a string of relationships in which I was afraid to commit my emotions.
This morning the radio played "When The Spell Is Broken" by the Blind Boys of Alabama.
You grow up when you realize infatuation is part of falling in love, but it isn't everything, and when the spell is broken you still have a choice. Can you love this person without idealizing him?
I have known him since July 2008. He and his partner had recently moved to Ontario. A mutual friend was visiting and staying with me at the cottage. They wanted to explore the countryside, so we invited them up one afternoon. We met and had lunch at the only restaurant in Dorset, then they followed us along the winding road to Lake Fletcher. Over margaritas, we enjoyed some casual flirtation. I was attracted, but we didn't get a chance to play until later that summer--the two of them, and me and Danny--when they returned to the cottage overnight.
Over the next year I saw him a couple of times and he would flirt with me. It felt good to hug him. Once he visited the big St. Andrew's church downtown Toronto when my boss and I were working on the pipe organ. While I was holding down keys he walked up behind and massaged my shoulders. He said he wanted to get together with me again, and I kept thinking about how to make it happen. Oddly, I got a bottom vibe from him, and since I am also more of a bottom my sexual interest was mild.
For a long while I had been almost monogamous. This had been a strange and gradual shift from times when I had a robust sense of sexual adventure.
Last year due to several factors my libido began to increase again, but still I felt disinterested in seeking out a superficial or anonymous sexual encounter. Then something he said clued me that I had misinterpreted his sexual proclivities. He liked to fuck. So I contacted him and asked whether we could arrange a liaison.
That was how it began. He came to visit on a Monday after work, and stayed overnight.
I haven't spoken to many people about it. Only Danny, and him and his partner, and my writing partner, Sarah. I meet Sarah once a week and tell her practically everything. We discuss goals and dreams. Sometime last year I had mentioned, since my relationship with Danny is secondary for him, I wouldn't mind dating someone with whom I could share more of day-to-day life. I didn't know what to do about it. I didn't think I had time for anyone new. Now it is happening, but once again it is a secondary relationship for the other person.
He and his partner dropped in last night. He called it a spur-of-the-moment type visit. Actually the plans occurred several days ahead, but he likes to plan well in advance.
After a short visit, the three of us went to a party with some friends of theirs here in town. I have known one of the men since I came out in 1996. The party involved delicious homemade pizza and kinky sex. My lover wanted to put me on the Saint Andrew's Cross but it was occupied. Instead I tried some electrostimulation devices for the first time.
I also spent half an hour in a sleep sac. It completely covers the body, restricting movement. My arms fitted into sleeves that held them immobile. It was sexy, but I couldn't sleep that way.
The party was fun. I would also have been happy to spend time alone with him and his partner, but it is worthwhile to discover how we get along together in other situations. I fretted a little as to whether they were enjoying themselves, but generally we made the most of one another's company. I am fond of his partner, and the affection is mutual.
I have a habit of getting into relationships with people who are already in relationships. Sometimes I wonder: could this be my way of avoiding real intimacy? All my life I've been attracted to the unattainable.
But Danny has enriched my life so many ways. I'm more grounded than ever, happier. His patience and openness have dissipated my temper. After almost seven years, I can't imagine what my life would be like without him.
Now here comes a different opportunity, and I am already on the path. I can only think of one reason to stop: fear of the unknown.
Or of hurting someone.
That old question haunts me: "What about me?"
I can launch myself on this adventure, throwing caution about my own wellbeing to the four houses of the wind. But what about him?
He has spent this month reading my blog, getting to know old traces of me left lying around. I haven't made any corresponding search, but I have begun to weave my thoughts and feelings about him into the story. So I write and he reads.
But when you honestly love someone, it must change your life. Perhaps I should do a little reading, too.
This is not his first experiment in polyamory. He and his partner have recently come through a loss, a disappointment. So I am catching him on a rebound. I don't want to be the one to hurt him a second time, but I must be open to the possibility this will not work out. It does no good to hold on because you are afraid of hurting someone, or because you are afraid of being alone.
Snow is falling outside the window. It insulates me from the world. He is far away, probably arriving at work in Toronto about now.
My daughter has been going through tough times lately and we've had an intense email exchange.
Last night I got home late and tired from work. In my inbox was a sexual request from my lover. I experienced a difficult cascade of emotions. The more I tried to cajole myself into a positive response, the more resentful I felt. I got in the shower, knelt down in the bottom of the tub and wanted to cry. Then I realized the problem: he was asking a favour, when at that moment I only wanted someone to hold and talk with me.
My teenage daughter is learning about relationships. I tell her true compatability isn't how much you are alike.
"There is no such thing as two people who think and feel the same way about everything, and if there were, their relationship would not be especially interesting."
True compatibility depends on communicating about your differences and negotiating solutions to make your relationship stronger.
When I write to my lover and tell him how I'm feeling, ask whether we can play his request by ear, he says he wishes he could just be here for me, too. A shoulder to cry on.
Last night Danny and I went to see
A Single Man
. Life is fragile, and happiness even more elusive.
When we came out of the cinema, everything sprang into sharp focus: the downy texture of snow lining the sidewalks, a phantom full moon ducking behind veils of violet clouds, two watchful towers of the big church on the hill.
"The city is so quiet," Danny said.
The best we can do is immerse ourselves fully. I am near the beginning of a new chapter in my life. It feels good here and now. Tomorrow night my lover will be here.
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