It’s Complicated


Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu.

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller


On occasion I get the chance to have coffee with someone, and discuss polyamory, ethical non-monogamy, and how I found myself on this journey. This week, I had that chance again, with a very charming man. We met, as I said, for coffee one morning, and ended up strolling from the coffee shop to a nearby restaurant for a long lunch on the patio. The conversation was pleasant, deep, and intellectually stimulating…and as we shared, I was reminded that my journey has been far from simple.

In fact, I believe my entire life has been particularly intense, and complex. It’s quite possible that I’m wired for complication.  I recognize that I tend to fill my life with activity, to dig into thoughts and ideas that challenge me, that I thrive on stress, and struggle to balance just enough with not too much. I am much more content when there are multiple people in my world, with whom I can share connection, friendship, love and relationship.  In truth, if things get too simple, I get bored.

I seek out connections with others, and generally I look for people who are deep thinkers, self-improvers, and those who are interested in falling in love. I consider myself this type of intense person. Conversely, I’ve spoken with people who choose not to be non-monogamous, because of the complication, the risk, and the inevitable hurt, and I’ve learned that for me, putting up walls against pain is not an option. If I block out the risk of pain, I also put up walls against intense joy, contentment, and happiness. This is how I am wired.

This does not mean that I don’t have room in my world for people who prefer simplicity, in fact, I’m in a lifelong relationship with a man, who loves me wholeheartedly, and who lives by a much simpler philosophy than I do. I appreciate that about him. It takes all sorts to make up this diverse and wonderful thing we call humanity.

So, my musings continue, as I try to sort out they why of my polyamorous wiring.  My new gentleman friend has not yet determined whether his life has room for multiple, ethical, romantic relationships, and that’s okay. I am grateful for the friendship, and the conversation that has raised these questions in my mind.

I’ve come to at least one conclusion: In my experience, those “it’s complicated” relationship statuses you find on social media sites are pretty accurate — especially when it comes to non-monogamy. Relationships are dynamic and the more people you involve, the more communication you need, the more opinions matter, the more needs and desires come into play.

My current, lingering question is this: Is there some connection between ethically non-monogamous poly folk and a tendency to be more intense, complicated, and desirous of less simplicity induced boredom in life?

I suppose inquiring minds want to know.

A Tiny Flame



“There are two people you’ll meet in your life. One will run a finger down the index of who you are, and jump straight to the parts of you that peak their interest. The other will take his or her time reading through every one of your chapters and maybe fold corners of you that inspired them most. You will meet these two people; it’s a given. It is the third that you’ll never see coming. That one person who not only finishes your sentences, but keeps the book.” (source:

I would not exactly limit myself to two or three… but I am inspired by the imagery of a lover, thumbing through pages, finding himself, or herself, and perhaps, deciding to keep the book.

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.” (source:

I long to know someone this way, to love this deeply, not dependent, but with such passion and knowing… to know and be known… this is the cry of my polyamorous heart!

It has been six weeks since the official notification confirmed, “We are no longer in a relationship.” The hole in me that used to be filled with grief and longing for him, is now filled with what normally fills holes.


Now don’t get me wrong, there is a place in me where all the good memories are bundled in scarlet ribbon and packed away in a trunk, much like the photos, letters, and mementos that used to live in my bedroom. There is also a place in me that is still grieving, though the pain is less every day. I am remembering the good things, learning from the experience, and looking toward the future with what I would like to call hope.

Still, there is a space in me… not the one he used to fill, exactly… a space for loving intensely, for being known deeply and for passion enough to light the city of Chicago. Once this space held a love that burned like the great fire of 1871. Today, there is only a candle… a short stub of wax, with a flickering, guttering flame and no one to fan it but me.

The reality is that this most recent love lost, is not the first love to have filled this space. I have fallen, eyelashes over ankles, more than once in my life. I’ve written poems, compiled mix tapes, awakened at four in the morning, longing for others; it’s true. Part of the emptiness I feel today relates to the way my poly-heart works… and that is not an easy thing to explain.

I share my life with a man who has known me for most of my days. We met at four, became fast friends at fifteen, first kissed at eighteen, fell in love at twenty-five, and married twenty years ago, October, at twenty-seven. He is my rock. Since high-school, he has been the guy that always looked out for me. He has spent his life making mine rich, and full, working hard, to give us a home. My children are his, my grandchildren are his. To this day, I cannot mention that I admire the scarf on a mannequin in a department store, without the knowledge that he will likely go back and buy it, just to see me smile. He is a good man, a loving husband, a wonderful father. He is generous, responsible, provider, caretaker, lover, best-friend. What he is not, is passionate, creative, and soul-searching. He is, exactly what and who I need him to be. I love him dearly, and would give him the moon.

Still, there’s a space in me that needs other things, other qualities. There is a void in me that has been filled in the past by a different sort of love… and now it’s not. Maybe it’s because I’m complicated. Loving more than one, making room in my heart and seeking out more than one to love, seeking to be loved deeply, fully, in a complicated way… this is where my thoughts are today. This is why my soul is longing.

“Love her so much that she might doubt your sanity… but never your passion.” ~Dean Jackson (source:

I want to love again, so deeply, so fiercely, that my sanity might be questioned. I want to love passionately, and fully, and set my world ablaze once more. Today, I cradle a tiny flame, and carry it into a dark, empty room. Today, I sit for a while, watching the shadows flicker on the walls.

The Earth

The Earth is the strong, silent type. His broad shoulders cast a shadow wherever he goes. He looks awkward walking about, a little bit uncomfortable standing. He seems most at ease when he sits or reclines, relaxed with a smile on his face.  He’s dependable; if he says he’ll do it, you can count on him to keep his word.

He’s friendly, and gracious, giving the benefit of the doubt to all. He is a people person, though he’s not comfortable in the spotlight, he’s happier listening, watching from the sidelines, observant to a fault. He rarely gets angry, it takes years for his temper to build.  Once it erupts, he cools down quickly, and becomes his happy self again.

The Earth is ruddy and weathered — with lines on his hands and lines on his face — in that attractive way of old cowboys who spend their lives driving cattle across the plains.  His skin turns to leather in the heat of the sun and he strums his guitar by the campfire when the stars dot the cooling night sky. You’ll hear him humming softly, especially when he’s working, a tune that reminds you of childhood, the song you can’t quite place.

You may think the Earth is unaware, but he isn’t.  He’s the quiet one who feels everything, sees and hears everything.  He is a patient listener, never judging, always nodding understanding. He remembers what you’ve forgotten: when it last rained, which way to Albuquerque, and where you left your keys.


Inspired by “The Book of Qualities” by J. Ruth Gendler, this bit of creative prose reminds me that everything seems to have a spirit, a personality, even those things we call inanimate.  This is, in part, what poetry is, telling the world how patient is the earth, or how seductive is the full moon.

(image credit: