Friends and lovers
My life is rich with relationships. There are challenges, sure, but my overall experience is that of abundance.
I can’t make time to stay in touch with everyone close to me as much as I would like. This is never going to change, unless I consciously cull my ‘friends list’, which I’m not prepared to do. I’d rather adjust my own expectations of how much time I can spend with people, how often. My sprawling backyard of friends and lovers flourishes at times effortlessly.
I heard an idea that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. (Of course, they are also potential enemies, acquaintances, etc. I like my glass full – half of water, half of air.) Another quote I read, on a t-shirt, said: “a world without strangers.” Imagine, no one alienated by difference. Strange, diverse, but never estranged. My kind of utopia.
I don’t quite understand the distinction some people have between friends and lovers. Is it about the sex? Intimacy? Romance? Is closeness a kind of skin, that you’re either outside of, or broken through? Then what about ears, nostrils, assholes, vaginas… I can get inside you, friends!
But seriously, the compartments don’t really work. At least, not always. Categories (fuck buddies, friends with benefits, partners, lovers etc) are useful short-hand, can help us discuss and compare and understand, but the complex taxonomy of relationships is just a scheme, a generalisation, that can never replace the wondrous chaos of each specific connection.
My current constellations
I contemplate the vast stellar smear of folks who light up my night sky, each a peculiar intensity, shimmer and hue. I connect the dots; picture frames of camels and kettles, scimitars and goddesses. These shapes are familiar fantasies. The brightest points have names of their own.
Ocean, a dark heavy stillness to his depths: we replenish each other. To know him is a ritual blessing.
Grotto, a sacred place of profanity, my own swamp chapel, warm baptisms of mud.
Underneath the velvet drapery is scaffolding and mechanics. Frank conversation. Scheduling. Shared meals. Hours spent dreaming side by side. Ocean and I want to live and make a home together. Grotto and I want to have children. If that happens, we’ll need to figure workable living arrangements so everyone (especially Ocean) has their own personal space.
We have other lovers and flirtations. Djuna dated Grotto, once, and now the two of us are… something. (Girlfriends?) She’s a lesson to me. I want to go camping with her. She’s good at pitching tents. We’re penpals. Slack at Skype dates.
Plinth: an unexpected lover, the dessert that made room for itself. He knows how to cook and knows how to fuck. His spit is a much-loved lubricant. We are grateful and hopeful and unexpectant.
Other intimacies – those I imitate, those I transgress and transcend with, people I play with and pray with, compasses and sundials, sparklers that are meant to burn out, shooting stars that blaze trails with the grace of miniature comets.
Ink, a girl who I’m fascinated by… Every last conversation is both sufficient, and foreplay to the next. Thus far, a quivering contradiction: naked minds and clothed bodies. I’m content to not touch, but then wonder – almost dispassionately – are we having sex by not having sex? Is tracing all around the edges akin to dipping a finger in? This bag contains a scroll on which is penned a faint map of a maze, look closer it’s the universe
Love your writing fuchka. I enjoyed your previous blog, and am now looking forward to the updates on this one!
I've called her Grotto's "flame", but she's more ethereal, more potent than that. In times past, he's been tragically open-heart over her, often reeling from her hot and cold flashes, wanting her to have some solidity towards him, needing to grasp.
He's more relaxed now, taking her at her stride. Says he's made peace with how she is and what she wants from their relationship: the freedom to be fluid.
But I - get jealous over her. She makes me the most jealous I remember being in a relationship.
She's exquisitely sultry and seductive, and enjoys toying with sexual tension, the slow smoke.
I can't shake the feeling that every act of honesty towards her is taken as a point to her (against me), every vulnerability I reveal seems to be thrown into the sack of the spoils of some game she's playing which involves eating people, maybe simply because she likes to know that she can.
But when she reveals, oh, it's a show of strength, a calculated creep of the veil that opens by hiding. Expression by a thousand teases. She is in charge of what's going on here.
The only way I can think of answering that is in kind. And - really- I can't be fucked.
Grotto sees something similar - at least, how she's meticulous in her performance - and he appreciates the art of it, is a willing victim. She's a lobster, prickly-shelled, but when she decides to let you get a fork in she is butter, soft flesh and finely chopped parsley. The morsel you get is part of the game too, just enough to be bait.
I'm not gripped. How can I put this? Dear, I've got plenty of people I'd rather be a meal for. I'm not fond of your attitude at the table. We're of a different degustation.
By demanding such subservience, of others to your whims, you make me prefer to be unmoved by you... And I can be unmoved. Decide to ignore you exist (the greatest sadism one can inflict upon a starlet?), or - more likely - just get distracted by other things and not let you feature too highly on my priority of people I spend time thinking about.
That sounds pretty harsh, but it's one of the essential feelings I can distill from this concoction.
On the other hand, here I am, caught up in thought about Bijou again. Ah, but (as far as I can tell, ha!) it's mostly by choice. Freezing my mood at this frame, enhance, enhance, analyse. I am fascinated by the rise she gets out of me, this dense emotional compound.
Another aspect is that I barely know her, really. This character is some Frankenstein monster of what she is, what she projects and what I imagine. I'm aware that I don't really know how things are for her and I'm probably not empathising well, not making fair judgments. Quite intriguing to process.
I've agreed to go to a party at her place tonight with Grotto. Haven't seen her since before I left town, about three months' back. Much of me would rather not catch up with her. Then again, Grotto dragged himself out of disinclination - two nights ago - to come to dinner with my father (!) who was in town for a surprise visit. I recognised a main motivating factor for me wanting Grotto there, was that I like the people I'm close to to be in the same space as each other sometimes, just getting to know each other. I think it's similar for Grotto re: the party at Bijou's. He said that he would like me to be there. I get that.
But to go means that I'll have to be around Bijou, and I don't really want to. I don't like her? I don't trust her?
I'm not good at moderation. I'm either open or closed. Wish I didn't have to spend any energy on this. Really can't be bothered. But I reckon it might be something I need to do for Grotto. And it probably would improve my understanding of (if not relationship with) Bijou. And no doubt I'll get to see even more of myself.
A potassium quickie
The shape of my weeks these days is: in general, Tues-Thurs in the city where I work (the next closest city to where Ocean, Grotto and Plinth live.) As many weekends as I can manage/afford, coming back into town for a visit.
After I bought a rail pass (unlimited intercity rail travel for the next three months) the "affording" part is much easier, in terms of money. There's also energy, time (train takes 11 hours each way) and mental health, of course... but it's very much a relief to not be too cash-strapped to see people.
Other days of the week, I try to work on my own projects - some writing, some volunteering and some creative things. Plus I like to move: swim, dance, climb, bike, walk, stretch, fuck... however. And do quieter things like cook or meditate.
Today, I'm at Ocean's place and we're both working from home. (He's an academic doing some paid research work.) It's been a while since we worked side-by-side like this, and it's very reminiscent of our uni days, the late night essay scrivening with brief outbursts of connection and release.
A few minutes ago, for example, I peeled a banana for a snack. Meeting Ocean's gaze with a come-hither, I flicked my tongue across the tip of it and made as if to give it a wee suck - but then, all of a sudden, I bit the end off savagely.
Ocean: That's more of a turn-on than you might imagine.
Bijou pt 2
For all my ideals of being good to people, to be gentle and understanding, I have a stubborness towards Bijou. A hard heart. You can't hug wearing armour.
Before the party, Grotto reassured me that Bijou doesn't behave the way she used to, that she's mellowed out a lot. She definitely had a more relaxed attitude.
But, I simply didn't feel like talking to her, as if I'd decided not to give her another chance.
What exactly has she done, to make me bristle so much?
- be serpentlike. Seductive in a way I'm not, and don't aspire to be, but that still makes me jealous. (It's a particular kind of jealousy that I find very intriguing, despite how much it hurts. May write more about that later.)
- not be honest with me early on. First time I met her, she'd been telling Grotto how she would fuck better than me. I called her up on that, and I said that it's not a competition to us and that's not how we roll. Later, she apologised and said she was just trying to test us. That explanation made no sense to me, and apparently wasn't the real story anyway (according to Grotto). I kind of can't be fucked talking with someone I can't trust to tell the truth to me.
And that's it, maybe?
Well, she wasn't comfortable with the poly aspect of our relationship... She didn't think she could handle it. Which is why she and Grotto scaled back to a flirty, sometimes-fucking friendship. So maybe it's partly also feeling like she would prefer me out of the picture? But not really, I don't think she cares that much. Like, I'm not sure if she'd actually want to date Grotto even if he was single. It's more a reason why she's unwilling even to try it.
There are a couple of other things that come to mind but I don't think they're at issue here.
I need to fix my attitude towards her. It's gross and unkind.
Fuck, I wish I trusted her.
I've been thinking of writing her a letter, laying it all out. How I feel towards her, my lack of trust, my desire for things not to feel tense. It's quite possible she feels like everything's fine between us (though I think my coolness towards her, at the party at her place, was obvious).
But I have this block, which is, I don't want to expose myself to her. Why? Hmm. It's something like: I don't trust her to respond with honesty, when I'm being honest with her, therefore I don't think she's worthy of me being honest to her in the first place. She's not going to be vulnerable with me, so why should I be vulnerable to her?
On the other hand, if I don't make some kind of effort, olive branch, something, we're not going to get past this. Well. I'm not going to get past it, I don't think. Jesus, I'm resentful eh.
Another option is to somehow find a middle ground. Ha, moderation!
I don't think I can avoid her. She's in a circle of friends I occasionally hang out with, plus Grotto really likes her, and probably will hook up with her from time to time, so I gotta deal with this. Bleh.
Fold the plane then let it fly
I have a pretty good deal at the moment, in terms of time with lovers. Enough scheduled quality time so that we can mostly be spontaneous. Lovers who are first and foremost friends - with me, and with each other.
The last couple of days have been a good example of this.
Friday - Movie date with Ocean. Went to see a film with him and a couple of friends.
Saturday - lounged around with Ocean. Went for a walk. Made dumplings. Both Grotto and Plinth got in touch at various points, with Ocean and me, saying they wanted to drop by to catch up. Ocean had evening drink plans though (with his g/f, and others) and he ended up having to leave before they got there.
So, without planning to, I found myself hanging with Grotto and Plinth for a few hours at home, by late evening. I just felt like chilling. I could have done with some time alone, but it was all good. Low key. We had some drinks and chatted, ate more dumplings...
I had organised to go dancing with a friend later that night, and the two boys decided to join us. Mmm... Grotto rarely dances with me, but when he does, it's luscious: our bodies pressed in close and slow slidin, like two wet mouths kissing, yummm
Grotto (and probably also Plinth) was keen to end the night with some naughtiness, but he got tired around 2am and headed home. Stayed out another hour with my mate, her partner and Plinth. Then Plinth dropped me home... where Ocean was awake watching movies! The three of us had MORE DUMPLINGS, chatted for a half hour or so, then Plinth rolled off and Ocean and I went to bed.
Today - I had planned to spend the whole day with Grotto (actually it's part of a bet we mutually won/lost) so got up earlyish and made my way over here. He's playing the new Civilisation, while I'm writing this blog, e-mails, etc.
Tomorrow, I take a train back to the city where I work.
Yeah, I love my life.
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Grotto's flatmate hands me a book: "remember this?" Oh shit, yes! Been years since I read that.
From memory, it was a pretty short book but it's actually quite a story.
A quote from the last page:
Well, yesterday was a rough morning for Grotto and I, but we pulled through.
How to summarise a storm?
It started the evening before that. I'd talked with Grotto in the afternoon, and he'd said he was feeling anxious, and thought he might lay off drinking for awhile. I asked if he thought the drink was contributing to his mood, couldn't it be other substances he'd recently quit? But he said, nah, it couldn't be those other things - he thinks it's the alcohol.
That evening I ring him to check how he's feeling, and he seemed happier, and said he'd planned to catch up with Bijou that night, and another girl the next night. The night after (tonight) we had a Skype date scheduled. Now, meeting up with Bijou (and the other girl too) generally involves drinking of some description, so I said "hah, have fun, good luck not drinking" and he also laughed.
After that conversation, though, my mood went really dark re: Grotto. I suspect it's PMS related (small things triggering BIG emotions) but... the core fears were not fanciful.
I did feel some part of my mood was coming from my not-so-grand feelings about Bijou (which I am separately processing).
But I also had a panic around Grotto specifically. One of his mottos is "better living through chemistry", and he's bold with his drug use/experimentation. I don't have any issues with that in itself, apart from when he runs himself ragged... and in particular when it affects me. I hate feeling like I'm his come-down girl, when his emotions crashland on me.
A couple of times (and once recently) I've said some clear things to him about this, about how I feel. The recent time I was very explicit: I'm trusting you to take care of yourself (he mostly does this quite well) but also to take care of how your drug use affects our relationship. He thanked me for speaking up, and nothing's been especially problematic since then.
However, the combo of "I need to quit alcohol for a bit" and "oh I have just scheduled a couple of dates with people who I always drink with when we hang out together" dredged up this issue for me in a major way. What am I meant to think or feel about this, from a distance? Especially with the next scheduled time being Thursday, like I am the unfunny punchline to a three-part joke... Two nights drinking and on the third night, he's feeling hung over and shit and talking to me. Wasn't looking forward to that.
I tried to chill out about it. I had things planned with other friends, and when I was spending time with them, it distracted me from this. But travelling home afterwards, gross. Another mostly unrelated issue (money) was also rearing its head and getting tangled up in this. I hit a low point on the train when I was seeking counsel from a magic 8-ball.
Oh, let's remember I have just done a full day's work after an 11-hour overnight train commute with exceedingly broken sleep.
I, too, need to be careful of my head weather.
Anyway, I crashed out that night. Didn't want to call Grotto in case he was hooking up with Bijou or something. But in the morning, I woke up feeling just as grim. I tried writing him, but it came out awful. So, despite both of us needing to get ready for work, I rang him. Attempted to talk, but he had no idea what was upsetting me - just that I was upset. He kept repeating "I love you so much" but it wasn't connecting. Obviously I needed to express the things I was feeling. He asked me to please write to him.
So, I did. I wrote it all out. The drug stuff, the money stuff. These are really hard topics because they are the intersection of how what someone else does, in their own life, affects me. I really value autonomy, and I'd rather adjust myelf to a position of being cool with however someone else is choosing to live their lives. Give them space to take their own path, and then decide whether I want to join them too. One of the best terms I've thought of for the people close to me is "travel companions".
But when I'm struggling to cope with how someone else is behaving, I need to speak up. Preferably before the emotion explodes... Grotto frequently (and understandably) has no idea something is an issue unless I bring it up. So I gotta be more explicit. On his part, I need him to pay attention more to what I'm saying, and - if he thinks it's fair - do concrete things to improve the situation.
Grotto replied to my e-mail, and we chatted for a bit. That communication 100% defused things. Wow. I still get surprised by the way you can make it through seemingly impenetrable forests, just by holding hands.
Skype date tonight. I feel we can just enjoy each other's company. Condition was critical, but now stable. Obviously we will talk a bit more about heavier stuff but mostly I simply want to spend time with him.
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