Returning from the Southwest Love Fest
On Monday I opened my mailbox to a new issue of New York Magazine, always an exciting moment. The cover story read: Marriage: An Investigation.
I scoffed at the images that depicted only 2 people in each bed. ‘Typical, normative representation of marriage!’ I thought. ‘Polyamory gets the shaft again!’
Side note: I’m not polyamorous. But I am fired up.
The night before I returned from the Southwest Love Fest, a conference on ethical non-monogamy that took place in Tucson, Arizona. I spent the weekend surrounded by folks who are kicking traditional relationship (and gender) lifestyles in the ass and embracing what works for them as their most authentic selves.
One of the reasons I started My Sex Project was to figure out my most authentic self. I’ve spent the past 5 years as a fairly single woman and the past year living alone. During this time, I’ve really enjoyed the process of getting to know myself but I’ve also had to push past the negativity associated with being alone. ‘One is the loneliest number.’ ‘The cheese stands alone.’ For some, alone equals bad and sometimes even broken. But what they don’t tell you in “The Farmer in the Dell” (what is a dell?) is that while the cheese stands alone, the cheese does some serious contemplating about what kind of cheese she is, what it means to be cheese, what she loves and doesn’t love about her smells and holes and tastes and textures! The cheese does the hard work.
By being alone, I’ve actually found it easier to open myself up to many people and opportunities (not always sex) that complement the many versions of myself I took the time discovering. Sharing those versions of myself with only one person now overwhelms me.
Awhile back someone told me the origin story of meeting her husband. She knew she was in love with this person but she also wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the lovers she acquired. I feel the same when I open my closet and see all the different outfits and what each one brings out in me. I would never get rid of my favorite summer dress because I found a pair of jeans that fit my ass perfectly. I keep both.
But even this gets hard. Your closet and drawers become full. The jeans fall apart, get stained, shrink. If maintaining a wardrobe is hard, maintaining multiple relationships seems impossible. Clothes are not people, are not bodies, are not creatures with different emotions and needs and wants. And clothes are most definitely not jealous.
Ideas that once scared me about love and relationships, didn’t seem so scary while I was in Tucson. And while I returned inspired, I also returned alone, returned to life. Was it all a dream? The 84 degree weather? The cuddle tent? The hugging? Am I capable of what seems like a challenging lifestyle?
I have a lot to digest (and a lot more to share) about this event. My work isn’t done. My answers aren’t clear. But I am happy to at least have an idea of where to start and where I won’t look back. The world may not be a 24/7 non-monogamy fest but the conversations and thoughts are slowly happening. And maybe they’re happening quicker than I realize: The New York Magazine cover story I scoffed at ended up touching on some of those views, an ad depicting a throuple appears on my commute to work, a poly couple sat up front at my comedy show. Seems I’m not the only one fired up.
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