Sunday, November 11, 2007

a polyamory conundrum

...or a polynundrum, if you will...

First of all, polyamory is filled with complications, so isolating just one conundrum to grapple with is a feat. In fact, the definition of "polyamory" is so uncertain, I hesitate to call myself poly at all. What does it mean to be poly? Seems like every poly person has a different understanding. I have felt, for myself, that it's more descriptive for me to say I'm not monogomous, or not interested in monogomy. But defining myself by declaring what I'm *not* isn't good enough.

Last night I talked to two women who call themselves poly. One is a friend from school who I haven't seen in a long time. When I met her, at school, she was new to Portland and obviously hadn't been tainted by Portland culture yet. She had a long blonde pony tail and looked like your typical jock dyke. She was probably pretty hot back among the dykes on her undergraduate campus in some other, more clean-cut town somewhere. But now that she's been in Portland awhile she's fully assimilated herself into Portland's grunge-dyke alternaculture. No traces of jock remain, she's got one of those rock star haircuts, she's wearing a black hoodie and some Vans. And she's not practicing law, she's building houses for a living. And she told me last night she's poly.

The other poly woman I met last night is Gully, the woman I danced with. When we first got to the venue, MFW introduced me to Gully. Soon after, MFW made a cryptic comment to me: "the door is wide open, all you have to do is walk through it." When I didn't take the hint she basically had to whack me over the head with it. "Gully thinks you're adoreable. You should go dance with her." It just so happened that I thought Gully was adoreable too and pretty soon we were gettin our groove on together.

I noticed, though, that while we were dancing, a curly-haired woman with glasses was standing nearby and staring at us. I'd seen Gully talking to this woman earlier. After a few minutes I said, "That curly haired woman is staring at us." And Gully said, "Oh, that's my girlfriend. We're in a polyamorous relationship." And do you know what I did? I walked away.

Ok, yes, I came back shortly thereafter. But in that moment, my circuits were overloaded. I went to the bathroom, I went up to get another drink. I stood upstairs and looked down off the balcony over the crowd. I can't even say I thought about it, I don't know *what* thought about. It was like I was confronted with sensory input so foreign, I couldn't process it at all. Like if an airplane landed in the middle of the stone age and a group of cave guys came out to see it. That's how I felt. Baffled.

I recovered. Within fifteen minutes I was back out there, plastered against Gully again and the curly haired woman had vanished. Gully asked if I was freaked out and I said no. I suddenly wanted to have some very complicated conversations with this woman (and myself) -- not the kind of conversations you can have while screaming over the loud thump of house music. Instead, I bit the back of Gully's neck and decided I'd try and sort it out later.

So welcome to me sorting it out later. Although, having written all that, now I'm not sure where to go next with it. For the past several months, I haven't wanted to have any kind of relationship. When I first went out with the Rugby player and we talked about our different approaches to nonmonogomy, she asked me if I hoped to have a primary relationship at some point. And honestly, at that time, I didn't. I was so new to being single, so new to that particular kind of freedom, the last thing I wanted was a girlfriend, regardless of whether we were poly.

But now I'm not sure what I want. After meeting Wings last week and finding myself just mildly stirred by her, I realized I wouldn't mind having a little feeling back in my life again. Going on weird, sterile dates with people I hardly know is getting tedious. But I wonder now how it works to have feelings for someone when you don't want to march down that girlfriend path with them. I don't want to follow my old patterns, but I'm not sure how to structure new patterns. It's complicated. I think I have to think about it some more...


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