I’ve been advised to stop writing stupid, vague titles for my diary entries, but the Cat Power song “Sea of Love” immediately came to mind just now, at 3:30 in the morning, the first chance I’ve gotten to sit down and write about the life I’ve been living lately.
It’s always hard to find time to write about life when you’re actually living it. And that’s what I’m finally doing. Living.
The livin’ isn’t always easy, not even in summertime. June and I have been a little low all week watching the news of the expanding police state, and June’s cried so many tears since she moved in two weeks ago (breaking up is hard to do), I don’t know how she has any left. But we’re still living, which is the opposite of what Brad and I were doing as a monogamous, nuclear family in suburbia for four years prior to moving to Asheville.
The bottom line is the last year and a half since Brad and I opened up our relationship, has been the best year and a half of my life… the hardest, but the best… and I can only see it getting better from here.
Where to start?
Let’s start with June, the latest addition to my “love life.” I met her the winter we moved to Asheville. She was the life of the first party Brad and I were invited to, welcoming us to town with her charm, hospitality and warmth. A few days later, Brad invited her to our home to do the artwork for the logo on his food truck. I was immediately enchanted. I’ve written about this before in a secret post, but I’ll never forget my first impression of her in her giant engineer overalls, with her disheveled hair and giant eyes, highlighted by dark smudges from the night before.
I’d seen her in pictures before we’d even moved to town, as we’d been following her somewhat famous anarchist friends on Facebook for a couple of years. She stood out in a crowd as a beautiful, mysterious gypsy woman – whom I imagined to have an Eastern European accent. But I couldn’t have imagined how wonderful she was in real life.
She made herself right at home at our little dining room table, where she set up her computer next to Brad and started generating images until she found one that matched his vision.
Like magic, she managed to tell us half of her whole life story that night, interweaving it into pauses in her work. Meanwhile, I made myself busy in the kitchen, making salad for us all to snack on. It was the only thing I could think to do to include myself in the conversation without being intrusive…
You can read the rest of this story in my secret post, but fast forward a year and a half…
After one of her long absences from our world, June reappeared a month or two ago (it’s hard to keep track of time when she’s around). I asked her to babysit in a pinch. She agreed and ended up spending the night… and then another, and then another. It didn’t make sense for her to go home, a half hour away. Our house was closer to her job, her kids’ dad and her sort-of-ex boyfriend she was still seeing from time to time. And the kids were having so much fun.
As July approached, and as she worried about how she was going to keep coming up with the high weekly rent she’d been paying for a partially furnished apartment since she moved out of her boyfriend’s house, I suggested she move in with us.
On one hand, it seemed crazy – four adults in the same house – but on the other hand, it was so obviously meant to be we would’ve been ridiculous not to jump on the opportunity.
Brad and I had already been saving money by moving in with his best friend Ben. This way all four of us could save more money for a future “Big House” and buy ourselves more time for living. And I could have my very own live-in best friend.
But the thing that made the decision easiest was how happy Nora had been for the two weeks or so that June and her kids had been staying with us. No kind of guilt has eaten away at me like the guilt I’ve had over her lonely childhood. We couldn’t afford preschool, we definitely couldn’t afford to give her a sibling, and the occasional 4-hour play-dates were not making up for the endless hours of no company but me, her dolls and YouTube.
She was ecstatic when I told her three of her favorite playmates were moving in and immediately started referring to them as her sisters and brother (well, sometimes he’s her brother, sometimes he’s her “boyfriend” 😉 ). She’s never been happier.
Not only is my child less lonely. I am less lonely. Raising a child alone has been miserable. Having June here with her kids four days a week (they’re at their dad’s the other three days) has given me a built-in tribe. I watch what she does with her kids – two of them older than mine – and learn. Nora goes to bed when hers go to bed now and sits at the table to eat when they do. She doesn’t always eat, but at least she’s trying new things. She’s learning how to cooperate, negotiate, set boundaries and be the social creature she was born to be.
And I’m learning to take lemonade breaks on the back patio with June now and then and not worry about the mess the kids are making inside.
And Brad’s loving that I have someone to talk, talk, talk to so I don’t dump it all on him when he gets home.
I’m falling back in love with him.
I don’t know what’s been going on between Ben and I the last few months, but it’s been fighting, fighting, fighting. Any stupid, pointless thing we could think to fight about we’d fight about, bitterly and with daggers.
Neither Brad, June, Ben or I could understand it.
But I finally figured it out when he returned from a 10-day vacation with his family a few days ago. We were in love, hiding it from Brad, and sexually frustrated. (Well, I was anyway).
The chemistry and sexual passion between us had been strong from the beginning, but we didn’t let it burn for long before we started smothering the flames. Now I realize we did it subconsciously because we didn’t want Brad to see what was growing between us.
We lived the strangest double lives. By night we were Romeo and Juliet. By day we were arch enemies. And we especially played up the enemy act when Brad was around.
We couldn’t keep up the duality for long. It was too exhausting. So we distanced ourselves from each other the last few of the nine months we’ve lived together.
We went from having sex every other day (which surely might’ve been more frequent had we been two single, childless people) to twice a week, to twice a month, to once a month. And the farther-and-fewer-between our sexual meetings became, the more Brad’s initial fears were calmed.
Brad and I started feeling comfortable in our monogamishness for a while. And with this comfort came a sharp, stabbing pain for Brad every time I did fall into bed with my “enemy” again – a realization that things weren’t over between Ben and I yet, that he and I still had more exploring to do together and more magic to make.
When Ben got back from his trip last Sunday night, I felt all of the energy between us come flooding back in, carrying me back toward him like an ocean wave I couldn’t swim out of, and forcing me to come crashing back into him harder than ever before.
We dropped our feud that evening, and he made love to me with unprecedented care later that night. The next day I didn’t pretend like I hated him when he got home from work. And the following night I whispered “I love you” to him over and over, not caring if it freaked him out. (More about this in an upcoming secret post).
I love Brad more today than I’ve ever loved him before. I know it’s hard for him to believe that with all this new love in my life. But, as I’ve insisted from the beginning, and still truly mean now, the electricity I felt shooting up my arm the day Brad asked Ben and me to hold hands in front of him, and the mesmerized trance that comes over me when I stare into June’s eyes and listen to her stories, in no way subtracts from my love for Brad. It only adds to it. They only make me see him clearer and understand him more. And when I’ve gotten my fill of Ben and June, I come back to Brad wanting him more.
Last night was a perfect, beautiful night. June made us all kratom tea and cranked up Cat Power on her big, old fashioned speakers. I washed dishes and June danced with Nora, while Ben helped Brad install a new food truck refrigerator. June and I came outside to check on the guys’ work – and splash around in the blow up pool in the rain – from time to time, and I tried not to say awkward, inappropriate things about how much I loved all of them.
My not-so-secret hope is that feelings will develop between Brad and June, but I am trying my very hardest to not interfere. However, I did insist that Brad let me work his shift on the food truck tonight so he can be June’s date at her company party. Fingers crossed!
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Also, for June’s perspective, check out and support her blog – Existential Intimacy – on Patreon. She’s a beautiful writer, musician, photographer and artist.