A Modern Family Christmas Memory
My husband and I have an open relationship.
It confuses people when they hear that sentence because of the images it conjures in the minds of people who think that gay men are all sexual deviants and heathens. We are all sexual deviants and heathens. However, being in an open relationship does not mean that our number of sexual partners grows with each passing year. For Pat and I it simply means we are completely open with one another. There are no secrets. That is to say: no important thing occurs to either, to each or to both of us without some, ultimate, discussion. That does NOT mean that I tell him every time I cheat on my diet or that he tells me each time he sat on the sofa watching tv all day, instead of doing chores. Some things are meant to be kept secret. No; it means we trust each other. Plain and simple.
As far as other men goes: we see other men. Not right now – we’re too busy getting married to date anyone! We have, though. It isn’t always an easy system to navigate; but it is OURS and we traverse the road together. The resulting journey has provided us with adventure, lessons and memories of strong sentiment.
On my Facebook page, I have been posting memories of Decembers past. Some of them involve Christmas, some of them involve trips to the theater, some of them involve friendships. Before we move from December into January, I thought of a memory I wanted to share that would take much more than the space provided in a FB status message window. Ta da. Blog.
A few years ago (doing the math, I will say it was a decade) I fell in love. This worried neither Pat nor myself because our open relationship has two steadfast rules: 1 – don’t leave me; 2 – don’t bring home any cooties. The object of my affection was a wonderful and exciting man fourteen years my juniour. Pat and I knew that the relationship would not come between us and, so, with his permission, I began courting the younger man. The three of us became the closest of friends but romance belonged, solely, to Tom and I. I say romance but what it actually was was a tumultuous battle to get him to see things our way and stop resisting me. A more provincial man with old fashioned ideals, Tom could not commit to anything extremely serious, though he also could not commit to a life without me. Very much on the rebound, I began seeing a man I met online named Michael. He was one of the most handsome men I have ever met, certainly charismatic and definitely interested in me, which is a powerful aphrodisiac. This relationship was doomed from the start. First of all, we were far too different for people who are romantically involved. Secondly, I was never going to fall in love with him – the force between Pat and I and the force between Tom and I were both too strong. And, lastly, he had set his sights on Tom.
Confusing? Yes. Complicated? Heavens, yes. However, it provided the makings of a story better than any fiction I could write and a memory of a moment in time that had great potential for a Utopian existence.
Knowing that I was seeing both Tom and Michael, Pat was there to be friends with them and to listen to the nonsensical ravings of his husband, for whom a midlife crisis was in full swing. He spent time with Tom and I, and with Michael and I and even with each of them, separately. We became friends, the four of us, the three of us, the two of us, the two of them, the two of them… the mathematical possibilities did actually have limitations but I am not smart enough, in that way, to see where they stopped.
Pat and I both come from large families. One of the positive aspects of seeing other men has always been the possibility of making that family larger. And Christmas that year was spent with the four of us at Two-A, seeing what that looked like. December 24th, both Tom and Michael came over and we all spent the evening together doing the kinds of things that people do on Christmas Eve. When we went to bed, Pat and Michael took the master bedroom and Tom and I took the guest room. When morning came, there was the usual Christmas activity.. coffee, juice, bacon, Patcakes, laughter, television, music, chatter and, of course, presents. Not one to ever do anything half-way, I had made Michael a Carrie White doll by drizzling red nail polish all over a Barbie in a ballgown; I had acquired a one-sheet from Tom’s favourite movie, The Witches of Eastwick, and had it mounted for his room and home.. and, natch, there were about a thousand gifts for Pat. And, of course, there was the cd.
Always loving to sing, always loving to express myself through music, I had always wanted to record a cd, in spite of repeated admonishments, throughout my life, that I should never, EVER, sing. That year, I recorded a 15 track cd of songs meant to express the various emotions that come with being a real-life Guido Contini. My producer, Michael Kevin Walsh (of The Smooth Spot recording studio) worked some magic to make me sound as good as was possible and I presented The Guidettes (a nickname Tom gave my three men) with this unique Christmas gift, made from the heart. Their reactions to the recording are unimportant ( I can say, without hesitation, that my husband loved it and listens to it, often).. and, indeed, the fact of the gift is unimportant. What is important is the memory that lingers.
For a few hours, one holiday, the four of us got to try something on for size. We were a family, in one home, sleeping in separate beds or lounging together on one. Two in this room gossiping, two in that room, scratching each others’ backs; all four laughing our heads off over a wonderful story or awful joke. We were friends and we were family. For that one holiday.
It was never going to last. Neither Michael nor Tom had the interest in a wider field of vision, regarding relationships. Tom was looking for his one and only and, what Michael sought, remains a mystery to the the other three of us. Eventually, Michael went off into the horizon, Tom DID find his one and only (for life) and Pat and I moved forward, growing stronger and more in love and, possibly, forming a relationship, a bond so individual and impressive that it may, forever, intimidate the men we date who MIGHT be a part of our family into turning and running in the other direction. Who can say? All of life is a mystery, a gamble and an adventure. Tomorrow Pat and I might have a bigger (personal) family than we have today; or maybe we will be the Norman and Ethel of the gay history, standing at the edge of the lake, saying goodbye to the loons.
For that one holiday, though, it was a new adventure, a new vision, a new world.
A Utopian one.