Shortly after Brad and I decided to “try” polyamory – allowing ourselves to feel romantic love for more than one person at a time – it occurred to me that I had the potential to reconnect with each of the long lost loves in my life.
Of course, a big part of the reason for opening up our relationship was to meet new people – to discover new aspects of ourselves through the reflection of new “mirrors.” But I was also curious to see what it would be like to travel back in time and relive moments I wished I’d lived differently the first time around.
That’s exactly the opportunity I got last week on a trip back to my hometown.
I never stopped loving my high school boyfriend Lars. I never stopped loving my college boyfriend Josh either. In fact, I’ve never stopped loving any of the people I’ve loved in life – not the artist I spent a summer with when I was mad at Lars, not the energy healer I waited tables with just before I met Josh, not the writer I almost cheated on Josh with during my first newspaper internship, nor the reporter I was in constant competition with at my first real job, just before I met Brad.
I’d love to reconnect with each and everyone of those beautiful men at some point in my life, but it felt appropriate that the first one I crossed paths with since becoming “poly” was my first love – Lars.
I met Lars my senior year of high school. He was friends with a couple of guys in a band who were dating a couple of my girlfriends. He was the beautiful blonde, blue-eyed Nordic type, usually dressed in a Johnny Cash t-shirt, dirty jeans and big 70’s sunglasses. He was a genius. And not just in calculus. He understood things about the world I did not yet understand at 18. (He was 21). He was also the best wrestler our school ever had. When I took him to prom, the cool guys who’d always been mean to me suddenly thought I was cool because he was my date. They’d looked up to him when they were freshmen.
He was the care-free-but-sometimes-moody-philosopher type – a writer, song writer and singer – often finding his inspiration at the bottom of a bottle. He tried to teach me that Jesus was a black woman, that astrology was real, and that I shouldn’t take life so seriously. But I wasn’t ready. My Christian guilt kept me from enjoying sex and my relationship with him in general. I was so madly in love with him, I’d have run away with him if he’d asked me, but every time we had sex, I was in turmoil envisioning the man in the sky shaking his head in disappointment. Because of this I never had an orgasm with him.
I eventually broke up with him after getting sucked back into my childhood religion my first year of college, determined to find a man who’d promise to have sex with me and only me for the rest of his life. He later ended up in prison for a marijuana related “crime.” I wrote him letters, fell back in love with him, and dreamed of reuniting when he got out. After four long years, he got out and agreed to have lunch with me. It was painfully awkward. I was still religious. I never heard from him again. Until a year later. He asked if I wanted to go out for my birthday. I had a boyfriend. It was too late.
Ten years later I found him on Facebook. Just wanted to see how he was doing and tell him he was right… about everything… and I was sorry for being so narrow-minded. I never expected to see him again, just wanted to tell him I’d grown to see the world the way he saw it, way before his time, and that I understood him now. He told me my daughter was beautiful.
Then, last week, I made an unexpected trip to my parents’ house to visit my brother in the hospital. I asked Lars which books I should buy him. We settled on Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski and Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut.
We decided it’d be a shame not to meet up while I was in town, since my parents’ house was only 2 miles from his childhood home, of which he was now caretaker. So he picked me up Friday night. I told my parents I was going to hang out with old friends, but somehow I knew we’d never make it to my girlfriend’s hot tub that night. We went straight to his house, which had and hadn’t changed in the 15 years since his family welcomed me to it.
We spent the first few minutes awkwardly acclimating his new dog to me, before I offered myself a bar chair at the kitchen counter. He opened up a fridge full of every variety of domestic and exotic beer for me to choose from, but had to make a special trip to the garage for what he finally decided I would like best – cherry-apple hard cider from Julian, California.
We talked and talked and talked – me swiveling on my bar chair and him leaning on the counter by the sink, just like we did when we were young. We made occasional trips to the backyard to let the dog out, have a smoke and stare off into the desert night. I was a little sad that his above-ground pool, where I used to wrap my arms and legs around him and hang on him for hours, was gone.
At some point in the evening, I’d had enough cider to make my way to his side of the counter. The other worldly conversations shifted to reminiscing about our personal lives – a contest of who could come up with the most “remember whens.”
“All the men in my life have been emotionally unavailable,” I said, as I slowly leaned into him for the bear hug I’d been longing for all night, “but at least you never deprived me of physical affection.”
I held him long and hard, burying my face into his chest, and tried not to cry. We made our way to the living room couch, where I’d spent so many hours of my 18th year enveloped in his arms and legs, “watching” his favorite movies. We fell asleep for a few minutes. When I awoke, he asked if I’d like him to take me home. I assured him I would not and asked if he still had the same bunk beds – the bunk beds where I lost my virginity and where I used to secretly spend the night when my parents thought I was at a girlfriend’s house.
He said no and showed me to his new room. He lay on his back and I lay my head on his between his chest and his shoulder – the same place I now lay my head on Brad, the same place I first lay my head on Lars, the same place I first wanted time to stop forever.
I scooted up to kiss his cheeks and mouth and in a few minutes I found myself in a position I’d never allowed myself to be in with him before – vulnerable, open, wild and alive. Everything that had been made robotic and stiff by my religious upbringing came loose. The floodgates were opened. We climbed up and over the edge twice without stopping to rest. Then he offered me his arm for a pillow, all night, like he did when we first met.
There was no sadness when he drove me home the next morning, or the next evening when I met him for dinner with my daughter, the night before our flight home… just a sense of gratitude that we got a second chance to connect.
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