I had a good day today. Had brunch with a good friend, in from out of town, spent the whole day with my soon to be created-family-kiddo (who’s fortunate enough to have the initials MM), had lots of laughs and goofing around, then came home and broke down crying over a commercial someone posted on Facebook about girls (#likeagirl).
My life is good – very good. And yet I still find myself here, from time to time, wretched over some small slight, bereft over some missed connection, lost over some miscommunication. As humans, what we want most is human connection – more than even food (check Harlow monkey experiments). As a society, we’ve placed all kinds of rules and restrictions on what those connections must look like, and what they can be called.
I’ve called myself poly since I first read Sex at Dawn, and living in San Francisco, I guess I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with that idea. Then today, when talking to my out of town friend I was talking about such relationships (open, poly, etc) they joked, “Yeah, when has that ever worked?” and I was jolted back into some other universe, one where what I was talking about wasn’t just run of the mill relationship parlance.
This afternoon with MM, a woman in a store we were in threatened and then did “jerk (her daughter) by her hair” hard enough to make her fall over and begin sobbing loudly. I quietly reassured MM, as his eyes grew wide and he slid closer to where I was sitting. After that, the afternoon became somewhat stressful. I didn’t put it together while it was happening, but my guess now is that he was checking in with me, testing the limits of my patience, perhaps waiting to see if I would react as this mother did in the store. I wasn’t very skillful in my response – I was a bit taken aback by his behavior as it was so unusual – and I reacted a couple of times with a bit more snark that I usually do with him, and he reacted right back, hurt and disappointed.
Why are human beings such shits to one another? Even in “real” families, like the one we saw? The mother and daughter in question were clearly related by blood, one the mirror image of the other. Meanwhile MM is saying things like “we’re almost like a family now” and I know I’ll need to explain who he is to me over and over again to other people. What is a “real” family, relationship, partnership, marriage? Why do some people get to decide that for other people?
What he and I need to make this work, is a regular, every day set of interactions. And not just he and I, I think this is true for kids and adults in general. We need to be connected by every day minutia of life. We needs to have repeated experiences of each other not completely losing my cool and going off so that we can relax that part of us that’s all tensed up waiting for the next shoe to fall. But that’s not what we are getting. We are getting pushed and pulled by the county, who have placed a value on him staying with his “real” family.
When it comes to my interactions with grown ups, however, it’s different. I’m not really a fan of labels, but poly/open was as near as I could get, as long as I was going to borrow the narrative of the so-called dominant culture. But to get to the nitty gritty, I need way more than four letters.
What I really am is a human, who enjoys adult connection in intense, short duration bursts. I like to repeat those connections, but not every day. I like to gather up stories to tell and then hear all about what’s gone on in the other persons life in long, up till three in the morning conversations. I know that for some people, that sounds kind of crazy – or crazy making – but I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. At least, usually I can remember that. Today, though, was tough, and mostly I just felt like I don’t fit in (again).