The Story of Us, Triad Living

To say they fuck a lot in Berlin is to misunderstand what those words mean.

Everything hurt. The day before we left for our honeymoon I did something to my lower back at the gym. A shooting pain shot down my leg with every step I took. My allergies had taken on a life of their own and I was on antibiotics for a sinus infection. Alex had just gotten home from six months in Spokane Washington where he works on a TV show called Znation. We were still re-learning language and who we had each become during those six months. We were relearning each other. And Jon wasn’t coming with us. He had started a new job as a journalist at a newspaper and it was our honeymoon. We had all decided this was an important thing for Alex and I to do alone.

But it hurt. Everything hurt. Physically and emotionally. I felt distant. Cut off from both of the men I loved. They felt like far off stars I could see and wonder at, but could never quite feel.

This is how love is sometimes. Something you know of, something you can say and think, something you can be a part of and yet it is unattainable: the only feeling inside you is emptiness.

In the weeks leading up to our trip I felt empty: the only emotion I really had was rage. And even that felt weak and false: something created out of desperation to remind myself I was alive.   There wasn’t actually anything to be rageful at. My life is basically good. Sure there are places I can improve: money, order, defects I can work on, parts of myself that need building and re-structuring, but for the most part I was…I am…happy. But even that was something I only knew, not something I felt. Happiness, like love, like pain, like hope, like despair and excitement, had suddenly become just ideas: philosophical theories with no practical reality.

And so I watched the men I love move through their lives like distant constellations: whole worlds unto themselves: unreachable and unknowable. And I wondered if this is how I felt to them: something beautiful and yet foreign, something they loved and yet could never quite grasp.

This distance: this sense of being cut off from the world around me: is one of the defining aspects of my life: of who I am. I have always known this. Part of what drove me to drugs was a desire to connect: to something, to anything: to find a pattern to life that always felt invisible: a shadow revealed in flashes, but never fully realized. Humanities’ one truth: we are completely alone. We will never know the truth of each other. Or of ourselves. We will always be just a little too in the dark. No matter how much we think we have figured it all out: we haven’t. And we can’t. That is the rule of the game.

That we never get to know the rules of the game. Or even what the game is. We just get to play.

I marvel at my ability to hurt them: Jon and Alex. Without even intending to. With a casual comment, or an offhand remark, a look: somehow without even knowing it I have stepped into their own private field of landmines and I am blowing the place the fuck up. It is unavoidable, of course. We all carry this history: long and dark and painful. We are all filled with buried treasures of past hurts and failures: of tiny wounds grown into great endless expanses.

We trample all over each other, completely unaware.

And these accidental explosions, these meaningless inflictions build up until sometimes we resent each other, sometimes we hate each other, and sometimes we love each other.

This is unavoidable. And it terrifies me.

Our flight to Berlin was at 5:00 am. We had to be at the airport by 3:00. There was no point in sleeping. We would sleep on the plane.

That is a trick I always play on myself. I will sleep on the plane. It is, of course, a lie. I never sleep on the plane. I know this is a lie. Even as I tell myself it I am aware I am being dishonest. And yet…I believe it. I believe in the possibility of it. It is similar to a game I used to play in New York City when I was just getting sober for the first time. If I wanted to get high I would tell myself: You can. You can get high, but you have to wait till tomorrow. If you wake up tomorrow and want to get high than you can. We will go get heroin and whiskey and Chinese food and you can float away into oblivion. Tomorrow. It was a trick. I knew it was a trick. But I also believed it: if tomorrow I still want to get high I can. The thing is: tomorrow I never want to get high. Tomorrow I always wake up slightly grateful that I hadn’t given in.

Another valuable secret: sometimes the best thing you can do is just go to bed and wait for tomorrow.

We had a three and a half hour lay over in Chicago. Alex was fascinated with the toilet seats in the airport: they were encased in a plastic sheeting, and when you were done they rotated, providing new, clean, plastic coverings.

I was having trouble walking. The pain was acute. I remember once, before flying to Rome, getting some kind of a stomach virus, and spending two hours at the Toronto airport puking. I thought I was going to die. When I got to Rome I spent the first day sleeping. I had terrible dreams of apocalypses and strange insectoid people feeding off the flesh of everyone I had ever loved while I was forced to watch.

Sometimes I feel like my dreams are premonitions of a past I can’t remember. Like some distant flash revealing the shapes of mountains without revealing the mountains themselves.

There are moments in a relationship when the world flows like magic. When you feel connected, like one. Where every touch and every glance makes your dick hard and your head spin. There are times when you know exactly why you fell in love: times when you find yourself falling even deeper in love.

And then there are times when nothing makes any sense. You hate yourself. You hate them. You feel trapped. The constructs of love feel barbaric, poisonous: you feel more like enemies than lovers. Every word is an invitation to battle. Every hidden glance, every thought, every touch repulsive and full of terror.

And there are times when one of you feels one way and the other feels another way. You want to believe being in love means being in synch. But this is just another lie we tell ourselves. To help us ride through the empty spheres, those moments when we feel soul-less and untethered, when we realize the fullness of our aloneness.

It makes me think about God. Or whatever it is you want to call that word. The Universe. Spirit. Nothingness.  It makes me wonder about meaning and transgression: about destiny and failure.

It makes me wonder if I am capable of evening knowing myself, let alone another human being.

There are days when the three of us sit quietly on the couch, each locked in our worlds, our heads, our existences. I look at them and I realize that maybe I will never know what they are thinking, what is happening inside them: like all of life the things I know are just projections of what I believe to be true, having nothing to do with truth itself.

But it is still comforting. To see them. To feel their warmth.

I often think about what will happen when I die. They are standing over me. Alex will be crying. The look of loss on his face will be huge. Unprecedented. Alex is larger than anyone I have ever met. Sometimes I wish I could tell him none of it is his fault: its just part of being human. We were the lucky ones: even in the pain we loved each other. Even in the disjointed moments when nothing made sense we were soul-mates. Jon will be trying to comfort us both because that is what he does. He takes care of us. He will cry in the bathroom later, or when he has turned away: hidden. He is always telling us later that he cried.  The only evidence we have is his testimony.  I wish I could tell him that he is worth it: even if he thinks he isn’t: he is one of those rare and beautiful gifts: something most people will never get, and Alex and I are two of the luckiest people I know. The three of us are. I imagine, like a failed actor practicing his Oscar speech, what I will say to them. I imagine how they will look, how they will hold on: I imagine myself finally slipping away, utterly alone, without them.

It’s funny. When I sat down to write this morning I thought: today will be about orgies. About Berlin. About darkened skies that remind me of heroin and poetry. It will be about kissing the sexy Argentinian, holding him in place, while Alex fucks him, or about the grey haired British dude who fucked me while Alex talked dirty to him, cheering him on, about all the sex. The endless sex.

But instead I have found myself here. Jon is sitting next to the window. The wood slated blinds pulling in sunlight and creating shadows around him. Alex is lying on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, eyes closed and beautiful, Ash, our cat, at his feet. Paco is in his bed, two days ago he jumped from a high spot onto the floor and fucked up his spine, he can no longer walk, we have to push on his bladder to make him pee, we spend hours researching doggie-wheelchairs: and all of this reminds me of how frail we are. How suddenly it will all be gone.

The words: one day I will die: have no real meaning. They can’t. Because like everything else they are unknowable. Untenable. The reality of them unattainable. But the truth is, whether I understand it or not: one day I will die. And so will they. And so will you.


Triad Living

No one can prepare you for the amount of fucking that goes on in Berlin. But I will get to that in a moment.

The thing people don’t seem to get, or that they struggle with, is that Jon is not our toy. He is not some thing we took for a period of time that we will one day send back into the world. He isn’t a solution to some problem we were having.   Jon is one third of the equation. An equal component. That’s the part most people don’t seem to really understand: that we are one relationship with three people.   Each person equal. Each person essential. In the beginning Alex and I were the “core relationship”. It had to be that way. We were bringing someone else in. We were the established couple. In the beginning “We” were dating Jon. But that isn’t sustainable, not in the long run, not in a real relationship. The structures had to be torn down and rebuilt. The way “We” did things had to change and grow to accept this new person. In some ways “We” were dissolving and the three of us were becoming.

And that is not easy.   We often fought against it. Sometimes we still do. Alex and I had to learn to allow parts of who we were to dissolve while maintaining the core of who “We” were. We still get to exist. We have been together for almost three years longer than we have known Jon. We have a whole life together. A whole world of shared events. And that doesn’t change. It doesn’t go away. And none of us, Jon included, want that to go away. It’s what helped draw Jon in. Our love, the way Alex and I loved each other, is part of what attracted Jon to us in the first place. We aren’t going to give that up.

Jon is not our puppy. He is not our boy. He is not our fuck toy (though to be honest, I kind of see both Alex and Jon as my fuck toys, but I think that’s okay. I think they like it). Jon is one of Us. Just like I am. Just like Alex is.

We are a family.

The other thing people don’t seem to understand is: just because we are a triad doesn’t mean we are sluts looking to fuck the world (though, sometimes, that might be true. Often it might be true. My point is: we have rules.) Just because I have two boyfriends (well, a husband and a boyfriend) does not mean I’m going to suck your dick in the bathroom. It doesn’t mean we are “open”. It doesn’t mean any of your fantasies about a Triad are true.

Now I’m sure some of you will throw this last paragraph back in my face when I get to Berlin and the endless asses and dicks we encountered there, and for that matter, all over Europe, during our honeymoon. I’m not pretending that we live a conventional kind of life, or that we want a conventional relationship…it’s just…some guys seem to think because I am in a Triad they can say and insinuate and do anything they want. It’s like they’ve watched so much porn they forget that we live in the real world with consequences and rules and feelings and that we still pay our bills and have to go to work and sometimes would rather stay home and watch TV and eat ice cream than go to your lame chem sex party at the Holiday Inn Express in Silverlake. To be honest, I’m pretty sure we’d always rather stay home than go to some random hotel sex party. But then again, who knows? I guess it depends on who’s throwing the party and who’s going.

We don’t like to be limited either.

Rules are the corner stone of our lives: it’s what makes all of this work. We aren’t free flowing sex liberals always on the hunt for our new lay. We aren’t burning sage all day long and chanting sex positive affirmations. We are just three dudes. And sometimes we can get really horny and go a little crazy. And other times we want to eat pizza and watch the Golden Girls. Sometimes we are dogs on the prowl and sometimes we are all emo wrapped in blankets and hiding out from the world.

I still role my eyes when I read posts on Facebook from guys who go on and on about how they don’t need just one person, they can love an endless amount of guys, and when one love is over they can let it go, easily, and move to the next. I want to say: if it’s so easy than maybe it isn’t love. Because losing Jon or Alex would be devastating: soul shaking: world destroying.

I’m not in this to love the world. I’m in this to share my life with these two very particular, very specific guys.

And that brings me to the word Poly. Alex is always telling me we aren’t Poly. I think, by default, because we are more than just two, we are Poly (polyamorous). According to the dictionary polyamory is: the practice or condition of participating simultaneously in more than one serious romantic or sexual relationship.

That is us. Almost. Sort of. Are we polyamorous? I don’t feel like that is us. We are not participating in more than one serious romantic or sexual relationship (sure we have fucked a lot of other guys together, but I’d like to point out that word serious: none of them were serious. Some were seriously hot, but none of them went beyond fucking. A few of them might even be friends, but again: that word serious sounds pretty fucking serious, it has weight, meaning.).

Alex, Jon and I are participating in one serious romantic relationship: our relationship. The three of us. We are one. So maybe being in a Triad doesn’t make us Poly. Are we Poly because we sometimes go and fuck other guys? If that were the case than, whether people know it or admit it, most of us are poly. Cheating on your boyfriend or girlfriend makes you poly. The random blowjob at the gym or in the back of the car when drunk that you never intended to happen and doesn’t really mean anything about the person you happen to actually be in love with means you are poly. If I go by the idea that having sexual -relations with more than one person equals poly then the word becomes kind of irrelevant.

The urban dictionary adds a twist: it implies that everyone involved must know about the other sex or romantic partners. I guess that sort of sounds like us. But again, not really.

Maybe I believe that all of us, to one degree or another, have the ability to be Poly. I learned after we met Jon that my capacity for love is larger than I ever could have imagined: that it was not limited. I have learned that just because I fuck another guy, or Alex does, or Jon does, it doesn’t mean I don’t want the guys I am in a relationship with. It just means that my sexuality is large: it encompasses many things, and I am willing to explore that and be open to it.

I want to explore the boundaries of love and sexuality. I do not want any of us to be locked inside a box: a prison made out of societal constructs on what relationships and sexuality are: but I still am not sure that makes the three of us poly.

I am in one relationship with two guys. The three of us form one unit. Us.

And then there is Berlin, and that infamous Laboratory, and Barcelona with the sexy Columbian, and Madrid…Madrid and all those outrageously sexy guys. I guess those stories will have to wait.

But I don’t think any of that makes us Poly. I just think it makes us humans. With really big sexualities.

Or maybe I am just really against being defined by someone else’s words and the weight that comes with those words. Maybe I think we should all just be allowed to live our lives how we want: monogamy or open, couple or triad or in some communal love den, or single, building different alliances. In the end as long as we are loving it’s like a win-win situation, right? As long as we are taking care of someone else, holding them, loving them, while also taking care of ourselves, and allowing them to hold us, what’s the problem?

I love Alex. I love Jon. And I get to be loved by them. Before we leave the house we huddle up. We kiss each other. They are taller than me so I can look up when they are kissing and see them. Their eyes closed, the way they move in, close: the openness of it. There is something so endlessly beautiful in that moment: something that has captured me and made them mine.

And then we hold each other and I know we are safe. I know that we can go out into the world and that we will be okay.

Because they are my family.