TRIAD LIVING PART THREE

Triad Living

People want to know about the sex, or the sleeping, or does Jon actually live with us, and does he have a say in things? Who is primary? How does it work? All these questions are complicated, but they all seem to come back to an important idea: intimacy. How does it work. And to be honest, I have no fucking clue. I just know that it does work. Sometimes amazingly well, sometimes not very well at all, but it does work. I tell my friends, sure, three-way fucking is great, but three-way fighting sucks. One plus is that we have more money. There are three incomes, three people able to contribute. It means we can stay at nicer places, take more trips. It also means that sometimes we can’t all get seats together on the plane, and splitting deserts and cupcakes is a little more complicated, and we have to stay somewhere that has a queen size bed (this is my issue, really, I just need a lot of space when sleeping, and I’m a lousy cuddler), and it isn’t always easy to explain: people are more open now to the idea of a gay couple, but a gay triad? Seriously, we are pushing the boundaries.

Sleeping is a big issue for me. Lately I’ve realized, some nights, I just might have to go into the guest room to sleep. Not because I am mad or don’t want to be around them, but because sometimes I just want my own space, my own time, and one thing about being in a relationship that pushes the boundaries is, you start to realize: my needs are okay, even if they aren’t conventional. If I need space I get to take space. That’s okay. I like to say I’m going to the Spa for the night, even if really it’s just a tiny guest bedroom we have that has a futon and a bunch of books on magic and spirituality and philosophy. I like to go in there and read. I go in there to escape. To find quiet: because it’s not just the sleeping: it’s finding that time that is mine. That is hard enough to do with one other person, with three of us it can feel like an almost impossible challenge.

And that is the other thing. Whatever is hard for two is just that much harder for three. But, the opposite is often also true: whatever is amazing for two is sometimes that much more amazing with three. Again, I think about the sex. But then, maybe I’m just greedy. Fine. I’m greedy.

We have a queen size bed. I’m insisting that we get a California King. My original idea was two king mattresses and empty the bedroom of all furniture. Just mattress. Lots of space for me to kick and thrash. And space for those times when we have a guest. Because, like I said, I’m greedy, and sometimes a little more is just a little more fun.

There is the intimacy. I learned a word recently: it’s an ugly word with a beautiful meaning: compersion. The Urban Dictionary defines compersion: “A feeling of joy when a loved one invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship.”

A lot of things I have read on triads and polyamory talk about jealousy. How you have to overcome it, or that it is bad. There are a lot of personal essays I read where people say they aren’t jealous. They’ve evolved beyond that. I am jealous.   I have not evolved well in this category, but remember, I am greedy. I want everything for me. And sometimes, it isn’t for me. Sometimes it isn’t about me. Sometimes it is about them. That is the hardest part, and the most beautiful part. The times when it isn’t about me.

When I tell you Alex is my soul mate, I am not doing justice to the truth. I have never loved or felt for anyone the way I feel for Alex. I have seen him fuck a lot of guys. We have shared a lot of adventures. But watching him fall in love, watching him be afraid or insecure, watching his eyes light up or the way he smiles when Jon walks into a room: this was new. This was beautiful and painful: it was devastating and gorgeous: it was beyond anything I knew how to feel. And falling in love with Jon, all that new dating, new emotion, new love feeling coinciding with my relationship to Alex, planning our wedding, our honeymoon all while falling madly in love with Jon: none of it made any sense to me.

I’m not completely sure it does now.

I fought against it, a lot, in the beginning. I was furious. I wanted to love them both and I wanted them both to love me but I didn’t think I could handle them loving each other. I remember a very dramatic moment in Vancouver when I fell out of bed and then flew into a rage, storming around the apartment we were staying in, going so far as to walk out, all the way to the elevator, furious and lonely and angry. I broke up with them that night. It didn’t last more than a few hours. I can be childish like that. I remember long, overly logical conversations I would have with myself, lying next to them as they cuddled in their sleep: trying to convince myself that everything was okay. I was okay. This was okay.

It wasn’t until I realized maybe it wasn’t okay that I was able to start actually finding my way through all those feelings. Maybe it would work. Maybe it wouldn’t. Yes, maybe one day they would fall so in love with each other that they would have to leave me. I’m also 17 years older than the two of them. My favorite game of torture to play is: what happens when I’m 57 and they are 40 (7 years younger than I am now). Some days I am aware of all the moments I don’t share with them. All the jokes that are theirs only.   The private moments. The things that, again, have nothing to do with me.

It is possible all the worst, ugliest things might happen. I mean, that is life, right? Sometimes bad shit happens.

But then I remember: Alex loves me. Jon loves me. And when we leave the house together we all huddle, arms around each other, and I can breathe them in: I can feel them. I know them. They are mine. And I am theirs. Together and independently. We belong together.

And that’s it, right? That is all that matters. The thing about being a grown up is knowing: maybe it will work out. Maybe it won’t. Either way, in the end, I will be okay. This isn’t always easy. But then, nothing really is. It takes work. It takes sacrifice. But, it also takes less work and less sacrifice than I think it should. If I can just shut up and stay out of the way it is way less complicated and hard than I think it is. Sometimes it’s actually kind of easy. Natural. I mean, really, it’s just me and Alex and Jon.

Just us.

THE STORY OF US PART THREE

The Story of Us

The day I found out I was HIV Positive I was working security at the Faultline for a Sunday Beer Bust. It was October 13, 2013. I’m sure there is some kind of numerological magic to the date. A testing truck was parked in the parking lot. I don’t know what made me think to get tested. It just seemed like the thing to do. The tester was bored. He wanted to be inside getting drunk. He looked at the results and then at me and he said,

“Oh, I’m really sorry.” Then he looked outside and waved to someone in the parking lot.

“Excuse me?” I said. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was so surprised. There had been clues. Choices made that should have made this less of a surprise, but still…I just didn’t think I would find something like that out from such an uninterested asshole in the parking lot of the Faultline.

I think it was the banality that upset me more than anything else. And the fact that he was so unattractive. It just didn’t seem fair.

“I’m sorry,” he said, and kind of shrugged. “The results are positive. Would you like me to make you an appointment with someone?”

“Other than you? Yes. Please.”

I made up some excuse to leave work. I think I said that the sink exploded at the house, or that Alex had set himself on fire, something outrageous. I had to get home. Away. Just for a few minutes. I had to see Alex.

If I could just see Alex than maybe this might make some kind of sense.

And I had to know if he would still love me.

We had guests staying at the house. I told Alex I needed him to come outside. I needed to talk to him. And I stood there, on our front porch, and I looked at him and my heart broke. I burst into tears. He wrapped his arms around me, holding on to me and he kept saying,

“Baby, what is it? What’s wrong?”

I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to answer. I just wanted to stay like that, wrapped in his gigantic arms, forever, safe.

But if I have learned anything in life, it is that the world will keep going: life will keep flowing, and that we are never safe from the inevitable. When I found out that my mother had cancer I learned about inevitabilities: everything I love, everything I hold dear, everything that I find beautiful and wonderful will one day die. That is inevitable. It is a rule of life. When I found out I was HIV Positive I learned that I too will die. Like everything else. One day I will die.

But I also learned something else. I learned that Alex did not pull away from me, he did not tell me to leave, he didn’t yell at me and he did not reject me: instead he held me tighter, and he cried with me, and then he said,

“Okay. We will be okay. We will take care of this.”

And we did. We found me a doctor. We learned that HIV never really leaves the body, it just hides out, in the belly or the brain, always vigilant, so I have to be vigilant too. Every day I have to take my pills. Every day at two Alex sends me a text to remind me. He has been doing this for a year and a half. Together we are vigilant. Together we stand guard.

And I made a decision: that day, October 13, 2013, will have power for me. It will have meaning for me. This thing that lives inside me: it will matter. I will let it change me. I will let it affect me and alter who I am: I will take my inevitable death and I will do something with it: because what is not inevitable is happiness, or success, or beauty: I could fail. It is possible to lose everything. To end up alone. I might relapse, shoot dope, become homeless: these things are all possible with a man like me. But I decided that the world would be different for me: even if I failed I was going to try, I was going to succeed in the doing: my life would have meaning because I was going to give it meaning.

I hear a lot that being HIV positive in this day and age doesn’t mean anything: it’s manageable, it’s not important: it doesn’t mean I will die or get sick, not anymore, and they are right. I am healthy. I am strong. I am not sick, and for today, I am not dying.

But it does mean something. It is like a sign along the way: a reminder: none of this is forever. My mother will die. Alex will die. Jon will die. You will die. Everyone will die. It sounds like such an obvious thing. Of course. But feel it. Really know it. And it changes you. At least it changed me.

I am lucky. I have always been lucky. I have a beautiful life. I am surrounded by love.   I’m happy. Happiness is one of those things that comes easily to me. I want to be happy. I like it. It feels good.

Recently, when the three of us are all together: Alex is gone right now, in Spokane, working on season two of the TV show he is on: But when we are all together I like to lay in bed and listen to the two of them while they sleep. Their breathing encases me, it wraps me in warmth and love. There is a magic in those moments, a power, that is another one of those signs along the way: Yes, you will die, but you will also live. This is living. This is it. Right now.

Sometimes all we are doing is watching TV. Sometimes I am sitting at the desk writing and they are on the couch showing each other stupid tumblr cat gifs and giggling: they do that a lot: look at cat gifs and giggle, sometimes we are arguing or we are fucking, sometimes we are eating ice cream and pop tarts till we are sick, sometimes we are cleaning up cat piss or dog puke or stressing the fuck out or going for a walk: sometimes we are doing nothing and I will see them, or I will catch the light as it falls across them, and I will think: I am the luckiest man alive.

This life is a kind of magic. It is a spell: we are like magicians: conjurers. My mother once told me, you have two choices in life: You either believe in magic or you don’t. It doesn’t matter if it is real. Just choose. Which seems more interesting to you?

Three weeks before we got married we asked Jon to move in. This, in retrospect, seems like a strange choice. Maybe we should have waited a few months, let married life settle in: not just for us but for our families. But things were moving: life was moving. So we kept going with it.

We decided that we would introduce Jon to our families at our wedding. This made a kind of sense at the time: I wonder though, if maybe a pizza night before hand would have been easier. I can still see Jon, in a corner, surrounded by all our family and friends, a little lost, so handsome, and people asking him, “How do you know Jeff? How do you know Alex?” And he would say, “I’m Jon. I’m their boyfriend.”

…TO BE CONTINUED

TRIAD LIVING #2

Triad Living

Recently I found myself in a discussion about sex. It was with a few guys talking about the kinds of sex they were having with their boyfriends: about opening their relationships, or closing their relationships, about movie nights and ice cream. They were sharing recent exploits and adventures. I, admittedly bragging a little, told them about this muscle bear Alex and Jon and I had gone to fuck together one night. The three of us all taking turns on him. He told us, when it was all over, that he had been so drunk on dick he had forgotten where he was. It had been a really hot night.

One of the guys looked at me and said, “When is it ever enough? Maybe the straights are right. Maybe we shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Soon you’re going to be living with twenty different guys. And then a hundred. At what point do you stop and say, ok, enough. It’s time to grow up.”

I was shocked. I hadn’t expected this outburst. Especially from a guy who had just told a story about him and his husband switching partners with another couple. I expressed this to him and he said, “Right, but it isn’t the same. Three-ways are now four ways. Four ways become five ways become fucking orgies. When is it enough?”

Later that day I called my best friend, Natasha, and told her the story and asked her what she thought. “Was everybody legal?” She asked. “Of course.” “And did you all have fun?” She asked. “Fuck yeah.” “Then who cares? It’s enough when you decide it’s enough. Fuck the whole world if you want. Now, can we talk about my wedding? I’m getting married in two weeks.”

I have had a lot of sex with a lot of different guys in a lot of different ways. Every time my boyfriends and I have sex it is a three-way. Sometimes we invite a fourth in. I’m really into the idea of finding another triad and having a six-way. Maybe I will want to fuck a hundred guys. Who knows? Who cares? That’s the question I’m left with. Who really cares and why do they care? I hope you get laid all the time if that’s what you want. I hope you find love and happiness and plenty of dick and butt. Why does anybody care?

Yes. I was bragging. But honestly, it was a good story. That line about being drunk on dick still gets me hard. It was a fun time. It was an appropriate story for the group of guys I was with. It was in context.

A few days later I ran into my friend who asked me when will it be enough. This is what he said,

“I think it’s just getting out of hand. Triads and Poly-relationships. Now guys are talking about forming packs. Guys are getting collared as pups. I know some guy in Long Beach who’s starting his own kennel. A fucking kennel of dudes who pretend they are puppies. What’s wrong with just getting married and staying married and being happy?”

“Nothing’s wrong with that. But what’s wrong with doing more if that’s what you want?” I found it strange that I was defending puppy kennels. I thought the whole pup thing was ridiculous: showing up at the Eagle in a $500 leather puppy mask and barking at people just looks idiotic. But if that’s what turns them on why do I care?

“What next? Real bestiality? Pedophiles suing for the right to marry little kids? Where does it all lead?”

I was stunned. I tried to see how my relationship, and the consensual sex we had with other consenting adults could lead to bestiality and pedophilia.

We have a profile on Scruff for the three of us. In it we state that I am HIV positive. A guy messaged us, attacking us for being whores and sex addicts and me for infecting others with my “sickness”. He said that if i really knew what love was I would go off by myself and die alone.  When I first found out I was positive I tried to talk to these people, rationalize with them, educate them, now I just block them. There is no point. They are upset about things I can’t even begin to imagine. They are furious and it has nothing to do with me.

But I still think: so what if we are whores? Why do you care?

“When do you start feeling ashamed of your behavior?” My friend asked me. “When do you start caring what other people think?”

Maybe I am a sociopath. Maybe I am amoral. Because honestly, I don’t really care what other people think. At least not when it comes to who I fuck. Or love.

I am thinking about shame. As a tool. As a device. As a weapon of control. Because that is what it is. My friend was using shame to try to control me. To try to force me to live in a way he thought I should live.

I’ve never understood gay guys who wanted to be straight, or to live a “straight lifestyle”. I like being gay. I like the freedom it gives me. I like feeling like I can create my world and my life and my relationships in anyway I want. I do not want to have to live according to someone else’s guidelines. That was never the point.

When Alex and I got married I had people telling me it was time to settle down now, time to grow up, time to behave in certain ways, as if it were them I were marrying. As if some how by getting married I was now giving something up instead of gaining something. I married Alex because I love him. Because I know he is the man I want to spend my life with. And because it sounded fun. And because it is political and because I want to be married to Alex. Not because I want to be married to an institution. It is our marriage. Our life.

When we decided to move Jon in people said, “So soon? But you just got married? Do you still love each other?”

Another friend told me that we should have our fun now, because he’s never seen a triad last. Then he told me they tend to ruin relationships. That they are indicative of some inherent problem.

Or maybe we are just sex addicts. Or maybe I want to infect more people with my disease. Maybe because we want to be in love and to be open about that we are monsters.

Clearly, because I took the time to even write this rant, I care what people think. I want to be accepted. I want to be okay with the world I live in and I want the world I live in to be okay with me. And I think for the most part it is. I am lucky. I live in a pretty tolerant world. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live somewhere under the pressures of a society that did not allow me to be who I am even if it didn’t agree or like my choices.

No one has to agree with the choices I have made. They are my choices. I don’t necessarily understand having a kennel of collared pups. I don’t understand a lot of things. But that doesn’t negate those experiences.

I am probably not very tolerant of someone trying to shame me for being HIV positive, or trying to tell me I am diseased or infected. If that guy had said that to my face I would have hit him. I don’t claim to be tolerant. I’m just claiming to try.

And honestly, what is wrong with fucking six guys? Or twenty? Or a hundred? Sometimes a really slutty, over the top night is just what you need to get on with your daily life. I’m all for it. I think we should all fuck a little more. I know I’d like to.

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