Like the hero in Ringing True, I value both my anonymity and my privacy. This is why my fiction, poetry and my Acoustic Disturbance efforts are published under various pseudonyms. No one has any right to know what I do in my private life unless I choose to share it. I find it appalling that we invade the privacy of political leaders, film stars and other famous people. Some of them pretend to be transparent by divulging sexcapades, threesomes and other outrageous behavior, but that’s not disclosure . . . that’s publicity. I don’t believe that anyone should have to share anything they consider private (except for criminals) and frankly, I don’t want to know what the hell Johnny Depp does on Sunday mornings or what Scarlett Johansson eats for lunch.
But today I am going to choose to share something of a private nature. If you’re looking for dirt or a confession about how I have been diagnosed with a fatal disease, you are going to be very disappointed.
The truth is that I have a perfect relationship with a woman.
I don’t call her my wife because we really only got married to solve a financial problem. Even today I think that the idea that she and I are married is absurdly funny and completely unnecessary. I have a hard time even thinking of us as a “couple,” for though we have a tighter bond than most “couples,” we are very strong and unique individuals. For us, bonding does not mean that we choose to submerge our identities.
We are very different people. She is über-organized and detail-oriented; I’m less structured and find details stress-inducing. She wants to stop, process and plan; I just want to get on with it. She’s red meat; I’m close to vegetarian. I have some facility with and interest in foreign languages; I never know what’s going to come out of her mouth when she tries to pronounce “dulce de leche,” but I know it will have me rolling on the floor in laughter. She’s the handyman and gardener; I’m the technology guy. While both of us feel equally responsible for finances, this also ignites a shared competitive spirit as to who is going to make the most money in a particular year (she’s won five out of the last seven years and my penis has not shrunk at all).
We are very intense. Our competition during one-on-one basketball is ferocious and unforgiving. We trash talk while playing Wii games. We both love arts and entertainment experiences that stimulate mind and heart, and tend to avoid contact with pop culture.
Our sexual intensity is extremely high. People have seen this aspect of our relationship on the dance floor. We have cleared dance floors in New Orleans, Las Vegas and other locales because we form a physical and kinetic connection in which we are totally immersed in each other and the music while our movements express strong mutual desire. We hear the crowd shouting and screaming, but we are completely focused on the other.
Wish I could see it . . .
Without going into details, our private sex lives are even more intense and obviously more fulfilling. What is remarkable is that our mutual sexual desire has only increased over the years. When she walks into the candlelit room, I find her new and amazing every time.
We are each other’s best friends and feel absolutely comfortable telling the other person when we need space or that we think they’re being an idiot. We have faced challenges that would have broken most other relationships and arrive united at the other side of the journey. When we first started the relationship, I made it clear that monogamy was not in the cards for me. She was good with that, in part because she is bisexual and wound up making love with some of the women I was involved with. After a while, though, I found that the sheer quality of the sexual experience with her made other experiences less desirable to me and I find that I have now been monogamous for several years, purely out of choice, as has she.
The reason why we have such a deep, lasting and satisfying relationship is because we have a fundamental agreement: no separation. No, I’m not talking physical separation. It’s more “no relational separation.” No lies. No withholds. No feeling that I can’t say this because it might hurt her feelings. No feeling that I have to keep this fantasy secret because she might find it weird. No, we don’t share everything . . . we don’t want to bore the other person with all the trivial shit that enters the brain during the course of a day. This isn’t a rule, it’s a freely-made choice. We choose to communicate openly and honestly every day of our lives: when we hurt, when we’re angry, when we’ve heard something amazing, when we want to fuck each other. We have a shared vulnerability that makes everything real and immediate.
We also trust that the things we don’t do for ourselves will be done by the other person. When one person expresses a desire or need, the other person goes to great lengths to fulfill that desire or need. This manifests in dozens of thoughtful little actions in a given week that make a relationship fun and worthwhile while constantly validating the other person. Again, this isn’t a rule, it just comes naturally with us.
I feel fortunate that life’s circumstances brought us together; however, the rest has had nothing to do with luck. Both of us have made choices to overcome our personal psychological bullshit and the fear of getting too close to anyone. Rather than allow communication errors and misunderstandings to fester, we choose to accept responsibility and act to fix those problems. Both of us chose not to settle for less than what we wanted in a partner, which means we both have high standards of quality that some people might find demanding. The truth is that we allow the other person to be who they are, which is something that most people find very difficult to do. We both love that other, different person and would do anything to make that person happy.
The funny thing is that when we met, I couldn’t stand her. I thought she was an uptight anal dweeb. She couldn’t stand me either, thinking I was too bohemian for her tastes. This experience was the source of a passage in Ringing True describing the moment when Justin meets Shelby:
Contrary to the belief in “meant to be” and “love at first sight,” experience tells us that many significant relationships often begin with mutual repulsion. We unconsciously recoil at the power of the other’s presence because we know the flow of life is about to change, and change dramatically.
My life did indeed change dramatically when I chose to open my heart to this woman and I am continually ecstatic that I made that choice. I don’t know if I an analytical type would classify our relationship as “unconditional love,” but I can honestly say that I feel that we are as close to that ideal as any flawed humans could be. My only hope is that our future reflects something else I wrote in Ringing True . . . a piece that turned out to be the last line of the book:
They still live there today, because so far, they each wake up every morning and choose to be with each other.