Living Together, Part 1

It was time. A year ago I had sat on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland and felt that a separation with my husband of three years was the right decision. While we had been very in love, we had mismatched sex drives, different goals in life, and different living habits. Jack lived a very straightforward life. He liked to go to work, come home, work out and watch TV. I liked to meet new people, date, and volunteered with all kinds of organizations. I rarely watch TV and often read in bed while my husband binged on action movies. Being poly helped us meet needs that we weren’t meeting for each other, but being so young, we didn’t need to stay together for family or financial purposes.

For the last year I had also been in love with a man who was very much aligned with me. We were both passionate about environmental and social justice. We spent our time on entrepreneurial and socially engaged work. We loved community and friendships. We had similar views on relationships, including polyamory, and we had incredible physical chemistry. It was evident early on that we had something very special. The problem was, he lived in Canada with his wife and two children, and for almost a year, I made my way to the Great White North once a month, and yearning for him the rest of the month. When he and his wife decided to move to Windsor, Canada and create a new home with her lover, I wanted to come, and they wanted me.

So in June of 2016, I filed for divorce, packed what I could fit into my Volvo S40, and my labrador mix who shed all over the car seat, and headed west.

I had my reservations. Would we really get along? What kind of relationship would I have with his wife, and her boyfriend? Could Art and I have the relationship we want with the others in the mix? What happens in the future if they decide to move again? What kind of a relationship could we have in the long term? I had spent time with Guin and Lance and they were both incredibly kind and supportive, but I didn’t know them well. I wanted to prove that I could be an asset to the household, that I supported all our relationships, and that they would love to have me there. The fact that I was a good cook and willing housekeeper would be an asset. And I would never be jealous, right?

Five hours into my drive to start my life with the the love of my life, I opened up my phone, and saw his Facebook message: “Happy anniversary! Thank you Guin for sharing your life with me. Your commitment to spirit is a constant inspiration to me. May we continue to grow in our love and always cherish our time together.” The post was accompanied by a wedding photo, a young and beautiful Guin in a white dress and curly blonde hair, her arms around a happy and dapper Art, both of them draped in leis of flowers. A wave of anxiety and nausea came over me, and I felt an overwhelming urge to fling something. Here I was, uprooting my life and leaving a house full of possessions in order to join him and his wife, driving ten hours through heat and rain, and I get this. It felt like a slap in the face.

Even more nauseating were the comments: “What an extraordinary couple!” “You two are the best!” “You’re an inspiration of what love is!” The comments went on and on and eventually ended at 35. One of the things of being a metamour is that you are privy to all the arguments as well as happy moments, and I could say that recently there has been far more arguments than happiness between them. And what about my relationship with him? What about our passionate, inspirational, soul-shattering connection? Nothing has ever been said in public about that. Where is our anniversary photo and cheering squad? I was overwhelmed by the sadness that the day we embarked on life together, our “wedding” day, would forever be overshadowed by their anniversary.  

I finally arrived in Windsor around 10pm, after having been pulled over at the border and cited for “excessive belongings.” I was very tempted to call him about the Facebook post, but what would I say? You shouldn’t wish your wife a happy anniversary? I’m sad and angry about something that brings you happiness? Why don’t you propose to me? I posted back, “Happy anniversary Guin and Art! Your love strengthens mine.” It was true! When I see them loving each other, I see in their relationship all the possibilities for mine, and I celebrate their love for what it brings to me. I find that when I confront what I’m afraid of, and do the thing that I don’t feel like doing, I end up feeling very accepting of the situation. And won’t he be impressed by my compersion? I am the best girlfriend ever!

He was impressed. “It was really nice of you,” he said as he showered me with kisses. As he took me into his arms in his soft bed that night, I thought, “I have arrived.” All my searching was at an end. I couldn’t help but wonder what their friends would think if they knew that he was making love to me on his anniversary! 

Guin was on vacation in Scotland with her boyfriend for two weeks, so Art and I spent the time getting settled in. For two weeks we painted the rooms, bought furniture for my bedroom, and I unpacked my mountain of belongs. The house was enormous and beautiful. It had two story ceilings and maple hardwood floors throughout. It had a huge master bathroom with a shower and jacuzzi tub, and it had a fenced backyard with a patio, running fountain, and hot tub. All this we were able to afford because of the contributions from four adults. Every day we worked together in the mornings, took a break for lunch, and made dinner together. We took the daughters walking along the Detroit river and played Pokemon Go. The dogs loved chasing each other around the fenced backyard.

I grew up with immigrant parents who were educated but poor. As a child we had lived in one room without heat or indoor plumbing. I had never lived in a house that was as beautiful as this. I was also an only child, and my only cohabiting relationship had not been a warm and fuzzy one, so the reality of having gained a home, a love, and a family all at once was truly a dream come true. Everyday family life–waking up together, sending the girls off to school, watching the leaves turn in the fall, having dinner together–things that Art and Guin take for granted, filled me with indescribable happiness.

Until Guin came home.

To be continued. 

Art by Henri Matisse.

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