Friday, April 13, 2007

First graders: twinkling stars with missing teeth, Hallowe'en grins. "I like your pink shirt." "Why do you wear glasses?" I want to take them all home with me. The hard part is squatting beside their little desks and then standing up again; several times a morning it sends me into head rushes so severe I have to hold onto the walls to keep steady. It's like doing squat thrusts all morning. And then the junk food in the teacher's room...

Last night G and I went out to dinner in the course of which we talked about Don Imus. G maintains that while Imus' comments were stupid and racist, they are no worse than what hip hoppers say about women every day, and that that kind of internalized racism and misogyny hurts the black community even more because it comes from within.

Fired up from the experience of reading Lisa Jones' memoir about Native American concepts of sacrifice--contrasted with Native American life on the reservation, which is rife with alcoholism, violence, and degradation, I talked about sacrifice. It seems that in earlier generations, the concept of sacrificing one's individual pleasure for the greater good of the community was a cherished value (she said, digging into her chicken pesto risotto). Now, not so much.

We've all suffered from this cultural shift in values to me me me but perhaps communities of color, marginilized poorer communities have suffered most of all, because they most need each others' help in order to survive and thrive. Maybe rampant individualism works better for middle class and upper middle class people (except of course for the fact that it doesn't work, witness: epidemic levels of depression.)

This newfound sweetness and growing sense of trust with C have inspired a weird backlash in me; I should be glowing with gratitude and I am, but I'm also feeling pissed off at former lovers who just couldn't or wouldn't be faithful. "See, it's not so hard!" I want to shout at them. "You dig in, you go deep, you discover there's more depth and sweetness and richness here than you can explore in one lifetime--more pain, more beauty, more learning--and you stay with it. Is that so fucking impossible???"

I say this because I've watched myself taking quiet little potshots at polyamory in this blog--when in fact, several of my friends are in open relationships with great integrity. I know it is possible to practice ethical non-monogamy, I just so didn't want it, and for years of my dating life it felt like that was all that was on offer. Any man of interest that I met seemed to want only a non-monogamous connection, and many of my women friends (certainly not all,) were also willing to take on that challenge.

I felt lonely and frustrated and also doubted myself: if only I could get over my petty jealousies I too could be experiencing the bliss of limitless love and affection instead of sleeping alone night after night because of my ridiculous and selfish need for sexual exclusivity. (This was my trip, not that of my polyamorous friends who were sympathetic and understanding about my particular "kink" for monogamy.)

One intriguing question is why was the sex often better with the faithless men than with the faithful ones? (C being a notable and happy exception.) Was it because the non-monogamists were more "into" sex and had more practice? Because they were more alternative and thus more flexible in their sexuality? All I know is that I am so happy not to be having that conversation any more--you know, the one about how men's biological imperative compels them to want to spread their seed to as many different wombs as possible--it may be true, God knows if it is or not, but I'm so tired of hearing about it.

And the truth of my life is of course complex--in some ways I am having a love affair with all 25 members of Wing It--male and female, gay and straight. And my friendships with women, many of whom are lesbian, are sacred ground. And G and I have maintained our special connection through thick and thin, and I live with two men and two women housemates, sharing bathroom, refrigerator, and relaxing together in our pajamas making coffee on weekends, so I am certainly not half of a traditional nuclear-family couple in my daily life. I just want our intimate life to have a sacred energetic circle around it--and luckily for me, he wants the same thing.

I think the pain over infidelity goes back further than my current dating experiences, back to my childhood, the jealousy my mother and I felt about my father's affection, and the heartbreak of rough spots in my parents' marriage when fidelity was broken.

Now that I'm once again embarking on a serious relationship, all those issues are rising unbidden in my mind. I can go off on stories about this or that unfaithful lover--how he broke my heart, how callous, how cruel, how cowardly and immature, etc. But the real story is how enshrined this wound has become in my own heart, this worm-hole in the apple of my happiness, this poisoned tunnel of betrayal, this escape hatch, this reminder that nothing mortal can be perfect although we try.

No comments: