I first heard of polyamory when a friend guest-blogged about it right here. I went back to talk to him about it and I was surprised at the simplicity of his explanation.
Polyamory is the idea that we can love many people at the same time.”
Last month I went to a party hosted by someone who had told me they were polyamorous in our second conversation. We have since, spoken of gender politics, health (mental and physical), the cities we have known and a lot of other things. I like the time I have spent with them. Conversations with them have given me ideas and feelings that have furthered my life experience. I can see this tangibly – how I understand myself and the world a little better because of the conversations we shared. Is there any life experience that beats this?
At their party, I settled quietly into a corner. I have never been one for big, strange groups which is what most parties are. I prefer the intimacy of one-on-one conversations. Or with a group of people that I know really well. I seek depth and when I miss that in interactions with other people, I find it in being silent around them. There is such richness to be experienced in just watching other people be. The trouble is that most people are not comfortable with being watched, even as they really, desperately want to be seen. Thankfully, this party was not one of those.
I lurked quietly, shared some light banter, smiled in on other conversations. And then I drifted into a chat with a stranger sitting next to me. We spoke about art, about our work, about our generation, about cities. When I think about it, there is an unexciting predictability to the kind of conversations I seek and have. But that’s probably true of most people. The same things entertain and engage us over and over again, even as we learn newer things from them.
About an hour into the party and having been part of group conversations, interactions with other people and then back to talking to each other, the stranger told me they were polyamorous too and had been invited to the party because of having this in common with the host.
I’ve been talking to my new friend often since then. We met one evening and decided to go for a walk and look for a smoothie place – an actual smoothie, not the milkshake-that-passes. We found a parlour and drank our smoothies out of glass bottles that we got to keep. Normally, I would roll my eyes at this and call it hipster. But I didn’t. What made the difference? The person, the conversation.
And is this not the core, the essence of love? An experience (usually with another person) that makes you see the usual differently, that makes you examine yourself and the world around you and want to smile? How lucky we are then, to be able to find this with many people.
A friend asked me what a polyamorous person liked. I collected my thoughts together and said,
“I don’t think there is any one kind of polyamorous person. But something they all have in common is they really like to talk about stuff. It’s very, very important to them to talk about feelings – their own and other people’s. All emotions are okay, jealousy, anger, all of it. And it’s all up for discussion.”
I know that a lot of people associate polyamory with cheating, with sex, with drugs, with hippies and a lot of other things. But those have as much to do with polyamory as they have to do with being alive. Love is an experience, one that you may share with another human being. It could be as finite as sharing a smoothie with them. Or as vast as co-habiting and sharing a bed, a home and a relationship status with them. We share something as basic and as intimate as breaths with other people. In a crowded place like a city, we do this with hundreds of strangers. We share eye contact, we brush shoulders and thighs on public transport. We make tiny allowances, minor adjustments, little kindnesses. We also wage small wars and micro aggressions. Because these are a part of being alive, of colliding with (or brushing against) other people’s experiences of life, just as we are going through our own. How could this not be manifold?
I wrote this post on XX Factor but I realised it sounded a lot more like my The Idea-smithy side so here it is. I am manifold in myself (as we all are). How could my experiences with love be anything but?