Month: November 2014

The other man

Sitting at the window, I first saw him as he walked past. A young man wearing the air of success and confidence matched by his well fitted dark suit, crisp white shirt and black tie, he paused to check the menu then walked in and sat down. He’s still there now, no more than 6 feet away from me further along the bench, all fashionable stubble and good looks. His slicked back dark hair frames his face, piercing blue eyes look out to the street with a quiet confidence. He is rugged and handsome.

Outside two young women wander past, one glances inside and doesn’t look at me.

I can’t make out the badge embroidered on the pocket of his suit jacket but it’s clear he belongs to a club of some sort, guessing from the granola and yoghurt he’s ordered I’d say a sporting one.

He looks relaxed, and gazes out of the window at the passersby, the spoon in his hand rising and falling from bowl to mouth with a practiced regularity; this is fuel, not a meal to be savoured.

He checks his watch and orders scrambled eggs on toast, energy for his game later no doubt, all part of the ritual. A football player then, as his ruggedness comes from genetics, not the arm of an opponent.

He removes his jacket to reveal a well pressed shirt with perfect creases, crisp cuffs and shiny cufflinks. He is a man of discipline, a man who takes his time and does things properly. A quick glance is all it takes to confirm that he looks after himself, his well defined body hugged by the material. I’m in no doubt it takes a careful amount of grooming to achieve that sculpted hair.

I sit here, unshaven and messy, an old jumper thrown on as I walked out the door, one shoelace almost undone, unkempt and comfortable. I wonder what he thinks of me?

I am who he doesn’t want to be.

I envy his willpower and determination.

The comparisons continue, starkly brought into focus by the large window framing us both. On one side an athlete, disciplined and focused. Healthy food and a glass of water. On the other a slovenly man with a half-eaten bagel and two cups of coffee.

He glances across at me, I can sense the movement in the corner of my eye. He looks away again and straightens his tie, an unconscious judgement passed.

He has finished his meal now and is getting ready to leave. From here he will go on to the sports club, get his kit bag from the boot of his car and walk into a world I do not know. The changing room will swallow him up as team-mates welcome him warmly, nicknames and friendly insults traded easily.

On Monday we will go back to work and tell the story of his weekend. He will talk of his team and, win or lose, he will be proud.

Pausing to give thanks

Thanksgiving is a big deal in America; what started out as a way to mark a good harvest has turned into a celebration of the good things people are thankful for. Thanksgiving isn’t, historically, exclusively American, and I do like the aspect of it that asks you to pause and take stock of the good things in your life, a very worthwhile activity any day of the week.

I have this small moments of reflection every now and then, most of them surface on Twitter but I thought this time I’d afford my thoughts a little more space.

I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, water to drink and food to eat. I am in good physical and mental health and I’m in control of my own wellbeing.

I am thankful that I have a loving family and a wonderful group of friends who support me, ground me, and are always there if I need them.

I am thankful I have a job which allows me to live a comfortable life.

And I am thankful for Kirsty and Clare. I don’t think they fully realise how much they both help me, centre me, and make me happy. I am thankful Kirsty has Mark, who provides her with the things I cannot. I am thankful Clare is starting to realise how valued she is. I’m thankful Kirsty and I started this wonderful journey.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and whilst it’s always easy to think on how things could be better in a myriad of ways, it turns out that none of them are all that important. I’m thankful for that realisation too.

I could write more, provide detail of specific moments or actions that have meant a lot to me but there is no need. All that matters is that I appreciate just how good my life is.

Thank you.

A slow walk

There is a chill in the air this late autumn day, but she doesn’t mind. There is a freshness on the breeze that roses her cheeks, her warm breath forming mini clouds in front of her. She loves days like today where she can take her time and enjoy life; she takes pleasure in all the sounds around her, the rustle of leaves underfoot, distant birdsong.

It’s the rhythm she enjoys, the gentle pace, the repetition, one foot after another, left, right, left, right. The destination closer with each step. She feels herself relaxing as she follows the twists and turns of the path, knowing she will unwind further when she arrives at her destination.

A movement catches her eye and a dark blur bursts into view, dashes across the path before disappears into the long grass on the other side. Startled she jumps back, scared by the sudden appearance of a local cat on the hunt.

She laughs out loud, reassuring her fast beating heart with the sound before continuing on her way.

Evening is settling in around her, the sun sneaks through the gathering clouds to brush the tree tops on the horizon, spindles of light cut through the trees and leave strange shadows across the path. She feels the first droplets of rain, puts her hood up and pulls her cape tighter around her body.

Up ahead she glimpes the first sign of the cottages, a trail of smoke rises into the air, buffeted gently by the breeze. She imagines the roaring hearth inside and quickens her pace towards the warmth.

Through the gate at the end of the path now, the long mechanical groan of unoiled hinges seems louder in the gathering twilight and then, there in the cottage ahead, she sees him standing in the window, watching and waiting for her.

She walks briskly now, the quiet of the woods behind her, a new focus in front. He is waiting for her and she urges time to move faster. She walks with purpose now, striding up the path to his cottage, her red cape billowing.

The door opens and there he stands, silhouetted as the night descends.

“Hello little girl”, says the wolf.

The Companion

It’s lonely in the dark.

The odd rumbling of an occasional distant car, the gurgling buzz from the refridgerator, and the deep breathing and snuffling of my companion are the only noises.

A gentle movement, a leg quickly retracted against the chill of the night.

I stand guard as always but the monsters are few these days. I’ve heard tales of nights full of them, each nook and cranny holding a new and terrifying sight. My sisters say the monsters only pick on the smaller ones, or maybe I’ve just been lucky. Either way it’s been a long long time since I saw one.

The last time was a while ago. It was a night like many others, the evening rituals the same and it wasn’t long before we descended into the familiar silence. The first realisation that anything was wrong was when my companion suddenly flinched, his body twitching violently beneath me. He cried out, a soft moan full of dread.

I did what I could to comfort him but no matter how I folded myself round him he pushed me away. I checked the room again and again but no monsters appeared; I do wish he would close the wardrobe door properly though, that’s just asking for trouble.

I’m glad the monsters seem to have gone away now, that those nights are few. It wasn’t always this way.

A gentle melody trills out and a faint glow washes the ceiling. He moves, his arm snakes out into the cold air as he groggily reaches around for the noise. It falls silent and the arm recoils. He falls still again.

A few minutes later the melody calls out once more. He moves again, twisting his torso to look more animated this time and the music stops.

He falls back, eyes opening and, with a heavy sigh and slow movements, he throws me back and leaves.

I watch as he goes, feeling the heat from his body escaping into the room and know that I will see him again soon.

Acceptance

Over the past few weeks I’ve been tweeting and posting to Facebook about a Kickstarter campaign that I’ve backed, trying to drum up more support.

The campaign was organised by the people behind Irreverent Dance, the aim was to raise funds for Europe’s first dedicated, gender neutral, fully accessible, dance space for London’s LGBTQ community.

I was so so happy when they achieved funding and, with the deadline now passed, managed to raise even more (goal was £30k, final total was £36,388).

I’ll now fess up and admit I know the organiser but that’s not why I backed the project.

I also didn’t back this project because I care about dance (if you’ve seen me ‘dance’ you’ll know why…).

And I definitely didn’t back this project because it is based in London; although here’s hoping that with a permanent base there could be some form of franchise model in the future? I know many people in Glasgow who would welcome something like this north of the border.

No, those aren’t the reasons I backed the campaign. The reason was a simple one.

Acceptance.

Reading through some of the back stories of the campaign, and the aims of Irreverent Dance, I realised I was finding a lot of parallels.

I’ve written in the past about not really fitting in and that general sense pervades today. No matter what ‘scene’ or ‘community’ I find myself in, I always feel a bit outside of it. Most likely because I don’t fully commit – I like my life to have a mix of things – but even then it’s not always the nicest set of feelings.

Even back at school I didn’t really fit in, stuck between the ‘not quite as popular as the really popular kids’ group and the ‘top grades all the time, bloody swots’ group.

Back then it was hard to deal with but these days it’s not something that bothers me, I accept it’s who I am, but I’ve not always had that accepted by others, so seeing what Irreverent Dance do just makes me happy knowing that there are small pockets of the world where all that really matters is acceptance.

“Be who you want to be!”

A very easy thing to say, a lot harder to do if you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere.

So, bravo to everyone who contributed! I hope everyone who will benefit from this new dance space finds it a little easier to accept themselves, and more able to ignore those people who don’t.


 

Update: The wrong question to ask yourself about crowd funding – matches my basic reasoning for supporting the Irreverent Dance campaign.

Insomnia

I woke at 5am this morning, wide awake. Got up to pee, then slumped back in bed. Turned this way, tossed that, duvet and pillows mangled around my body.

Restless. Too hot. Too cold. Comfortable but not enough. Eyes heavy. Yawning. Not fooling myself. Awake.

I got up. Tidied my kitchen. Read some articles. Stood at the window and watched the daylight creep behind clouds as the night faded. Wrote a review. Contemplated writing more but didn’t.

Made coffee. Washed. Dressed. Left for work.

Deep in the bosom of the gentle night
Is when I search for the light
Pick up my pen and start to write
I struggle, fight dark forces
In the clear moon light
Without fear… insomnia
I can’t get no sleep

Coming Out

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at www.polymeansmany.com.

Time to fess up. For the longest time I didn’t really give the concept of ‘coming out’ all that much thought as I didn’t think I had anything to come out about. I considered myself straight, monogamous (and I’ll throw in white, male, middle-class as well). I was the ‘norm’, my world view was very narrow.

A close friend came out to me during this time and I remember thinking, so what? He’s my mate, as long as he’s happy, what’s all the fuss about? Of course my reaction wasn’t what mattered at all and today, as part of a minority that isn’t understood, I am starting to better understand why coming out is so important.

For me coming out about my poly lifestyle is about my own freedom, about living honestly and not living a lie, maintaining my own integrity. It is not about seeking approval, just as it’s not about raising awareness. The latter is a by-product, for sure, but that’s not the end goal.

For me it wasn’t a big surprise that coming out garnered no negative reactions with my friends and family. I’m not a big fan of drama and tend to be careful about who I let into my life, so my nearest and dearest are level headed, open minded, supportive and understanding, which is pretty much as I expected.

But that’s not to say telling them was a walk in the park, it was a lot more nerve-wracking than I had imagined.

My biggest concern was my parents, not that I thought they wouldn’t understand, but that they would think it wasn’t right for me and that I wouldn’t be happy. Coming off the back of a long marriage, despite the divorce being amicable, I knew they’d wonder if I was diving into something new without proper consideration (to be fair, I’ve a tendency to make quick decisions and they haven’t always worked out).

That said, they were as supportive and understanding as I hoped they’d be. They’d already met Kirsty, could see she makes me happy, and were aware that we were both open to see other people (I think I used the term open relationship the first time I told them) but it was a couple of months into realising my relationship with Clare was becoming more than just ‘dates’ that I realised I needed to make sure my parents realised the difference between an open relationship and polyamory.

I’m still not sure they fully understand it but they are happy that I’m happy, and were very welcoming when they first met Clare last year. My sister was the same and although she is a little bemused by it, and has stated a few times she definitely couldn’t do it herself, like my parents she just wants me to be happy.

Like I said I’m very lucky; my friends and family have listened when I asked them and life has continued pretty much as normal. Only the occasional ‘should I invite both your partners?’ type enquiry reminds me that whilst I’m comfortable within our poly setup, it’s still a bit of a minefield for others.

Outside of my friends and family the reaction has been mixed. It’s not something I’ve announced at work, but a few people are aware that I have two partners. There have been a few odd comments but those most stem from misunderstanding the way our setup works*. I’ve found myself talking about poly in general terms a couple of times, but it’s not been something that many have asked about.

What’s important to me is that I don’t ever shy away from being honest about my situation. The most frequent conversational gambit that brings this to the fore is the Monday morning “How was your weekend?” question. The more I’m asked, the more comfortable I feel replying honestly.

“It was great, I spent Friday night with Clare, had some lunch and did some shopping with her on Saturday, then met up with Kirsty for dinner and a movie on Saturday night. Then me, Mark, Clare and Kirsty got together for Sunday lunch… anyway, how was your weekend?”

* This is understandable as there is no ‘right’ way to do be poly. Some people have clear primary/secondary style relationships, rules around who can do what and so on. Our poly doesn’t have that structure, and is based on trust, communication and love.