Friday, September 7, 2012

I left my heart....mostly in my chest

I sat in the warm sunshine on a gorgeous August day in the Panhandle park (next to Golden Gate), with a giggly group of quirky, smart, delightful folks I’d lived with, danced with, dated, hugged, high-fived, ate with and thoroughly enjoyed. And I was saying goodbye.

Coast Camp at Point Reyes
Yes, my time in this marvelous place has ended in a messy (in a good way), sweaty, delicious way, with costumes, colour and laughter, just as it should.  I got to culminate my last few weeks with a last-minute visit from my giving, warm and wonderful super close friend Andrea (all the way from Toronto!). We walked the hills, marched to the Mission and indulged in pirates, art and burritos (which caused her to request, a short time after, that we find some green space and pass out for about five minutes.  Which we did and were joined a few tables down by a man with a large shopping cart of bottles who also felt 3pm is a good time to take a nap in the park), had a 26-hour ill-prepared but wonderful camping trip to Point Reyes, where in the morning, we frolicked in the cold waves and strolled the beach which had been touched only by the cloven hoofs of deer. 

She finished her visit in style, when we went out dancing at Soul Night at the fun Elbo Room, where we were joined by my roommates, all in some form of costume. We danced and sweated till near collapse, then wandered home, passing the dollhouse victorian houses and denuded magnolia trees, through the cool summer fog. 

Crisp and crackling - thanks Tartine
Franticly packing my things while my roommates prepared themselves for Burning Man, I squeezed in several wonderful visits complete with an obscene amount of good food.  Buttery, shattering croissant, mac and cheese in Oakland followed by a tiny concert in an independent clothing shop in Oakland, and a stunning four-course vegan dinner at Millenium, one of the finest restaurants in San Francisco. 

Mac'n'Cheese as far as the eye can see!

 And so I struck the path that so many have done, calling the city home then taking leave of it.  See, San Francisco’s a place of transition, and also of joy.  The city was smiling but unmoved by my departure, while I felt a little piece of my heart remained, bouncing up and down the hills, splashing in the ocean, ordering a burrito and dancing all night, fueled on Speakeasy Prohibition Ale and Anchor Steam. 

Occupy Oakland, Fall 2011

The Canadian train across Canada
As I board a train for Vancouver and then across the country, I offer my gratitude for this city, and how it has changed me.  Thanks for giving me your best in dance, energy, colour, silliness, food, activism, learning and love.  I’ll be back to ride that Golden Gate Bridge, replete with flowers in my hair.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My "Coming Out" Story (sort of)

When I first arrived in the city, I came from a veritable desert of romance in Ottawa.  I like Ottawa for many reasons: poutine, the canal, the incredible people, but not so much the romance.  I was parched and essentially planning on how many cats would be too many to own when entering spinsterhood at 29 (38 cats?  76?).  
Too many cats?  I think not!
Almost one month after I arrived, I clawed forward, looked and realized I’d found an oasis of (geeky but lovely) men.  We are talking a Walmart-sized waterpark with slides of many different sizes and colours, water pouring everywhere (hey, I didn’t mean it that way.  Get your mind out of the gutter!).

The city was exploding with cute, single men and for the rest of 2011, I indulged.  I dated a young british boy, a comely, funny dude I met at a conference, a quirky nerdy hipster boy who lives in the Mission, etc.  But I started to notice a pattern.  Most of the men I was dating identified as polyamorous.  The man working in my hostel was married and interested in me.   I was picked up on the train by a married with kids poly guy.

In fact, this precise topic threw me into a relationship.  In January, I met a tall, handsome thing who noticed me specifically because I was commenting to my friend that all the guys I was dating were polyamorous.  This newest one’s ears visibly picked up and he said “were you talking about polyamory?”  Turns out he had been poly for years.  Eight months later, we were still dating each other, and many others.

Now, polyamory was a newish concept to me.  Seemed like you could date someone and have sex with anyone else you wanted – Alright!  

Well doesn't that look nice?
In reality, being poly demands total honesty (both with your partner and with yourself), challenges nearly every assumption of “conventional” relationships, including the idea that you can only be in love with/involved with one person at a time, and is one helluva headache when it comes to scheduling. 

But it also opened my eyes to incredible possibilities.  I attended a polyamory conference (only in San Francisco, right?), spoke with a leading poly advocate, read an incredible book about it (called Opening Up) and dated several poly men.  I learned about my own jealousy, limits, and honesty, and even had more than one public crying moment (including an epic incident where I cried on a corner on Mission street, dramatically stalking away from my partner).  I also learned that I loved the honesty of being in an open relationship, the joy of sharing my partner’s joy when they relayed that they’d gone on a really good date, and the examining of my own insecurities, feelings, and how to trust myself.  I learned how to state my own boundaries and discuss big ugly STIs before intimacy even happens. 

So yes, I am coming out as poly, at least for now.  Does this mean I’ll never be monogamous again and will end up on some farm in the middle of nowhere with six husbands, 4 lovers and a few casual dalliances, with so many dates that I don’t actually have time to go to my job?  Probably not.  But I do know that open relationships will always be a viable and potentially preferable, option for me. Yes it’s strange and unconventional, but so am I.  My heart is also full of love and I’d like to share it with as many people as possible, both in friendship and in intimacy.

To all those who are curious/totally freaked out by this, feel free to send/ask me questions.