A Different World. A Better World. A Noble World.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 3.618% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

(NOTE: On Friday night, raw and exhausted, I posted this essay to my FetLife account through a faltering Internet connection.  And I debated whether I wanted to publish this one here, on the open web, as it’s intensely personal to me.  But I ultimately decided it was the second part of a longer essay I’d started with “Yes, Of Course” – and as such, am posting it exactly as I’d written it then with no edits.)
So last night, I drove out three hours and took a day off from work to hold my girlfriend’s hand for about an hour.
She was going in for surgery. She’s shit-scared of surgery. I’ve seen her beautiful eyes go wide as she says “No, no, no, I do NOT want any needles” and there were no needles around, just her memory of needles. So for her to be wheeled into a cold place where they were going to cut her open…
She would have made it without me. But it would have been worse. So I went.
And it was a weird day. I spent a lot of it in that liminal space between “sorta family” and “maybe not” – her dad was there, and so was her mom, and they know about me and they like me but I’m not, you know, her husband. Everyone was perfectly pleasant but there was always that weird hum of “Hi, I’m new here” even though we’ve been dating for over a year because yeah, hi, family emergency oh and look who’s here.
(And like many times of comfort, it’s hard to tell how effective you are. She tells me – and I believe her – that she only got through it as well as she did because I was there. Yet aside from a couple of tight “Don’t you fucking let go of me” moments, she looked fine. Some days, you really could use an alternate world where you peer through a window to a crying wreck and have them say, “See? That’s who I would have been this morning without you.”)
Anyway, the surgery went without a hitch, and a few hours later they rolled my love back in. And there was a brief pause because her husband went in to see her, and then her Mom and Dad went in, and there I was in the waiting room like a schmuck and eventually they brought me in and her husband and I got her back to her feet and out the hospital door and home.
Then I went to my hotel, because frankly, she was sleepy and needed rest, not “Time with Ferrett.”
And here I am. In a hotel room on the ass-end of Pennsylvania, alone, except.
Except.
She said something.
She said something magnificent.
When I saw her she was zonked out, like you are after they’ve put you down deep enough to cut you open without waking you. But eventually she told me, “Yeah. They kept asking me ‘Who’s waiting out there for you in the lobby?’ and I I told them ‘My husband and my boyfriend’ and they stammered and asked like six times and I kept saying, “My husband, and my boyfriend.’ And eventually I just told them, ‘Look, I lead an alternative lifestyle, all right?’ and they did the surgery.”
I keep thinking about that.
Because even for me, who’s pretty much as out as someone can be about polyamory, there’s still so much secrecy that it fucking burns.
“Ah, yes, this is my wife I’m checking into with this hotel room, sure.”
“Kids, this is Ferrett, he’s a… friend.”
“I met him at a – oh, well, a conference, I guess.”
And it’s never *meant* to be an erasure, it’s always with acquaintances or strangers or kids who don’t necessarily need to know who Mommy is fucking. It’s a thousand “Do I want to open this discussion with the clerk at the Holiday Inn?”s and “How much do my co-workers need to know?” and “My family’s got a couple of conservative fundamentalists, I don’t want this shit blowing up on Facebook.”
They’re not quite lies, but they’re not quite truths, either.
And they’re good reasons, you know? I want to be a value-added. I don’t want to stir up a fuss in anyone’s life. Hell, half the time I’m um-erring at someone I’ve just met, deciding whether I want to be someone’s educational experience today, and so how can I really blame someone for not wanting to blast my name out to everyone?
Yet my girlfriend did not give a fuck. She was exhausted, and tired, and when she was stripped raw the last thing she wanted to give up was to acknowledge the love that was sitting out there in that lobby for her and fuck, I’m crying now.
But it’s a moment. It’s a moment where her don’t-give-a-fuck punched a hole through to another world where I saw what it might be like not to have really good reasons not to just be buried under a tide of assumptions, and in that moment our love felt realer than it ever had before, this thing where yeah, we don’t live together and we’re never going to get married and we’ll never have once-a-week dates and all the traditional pathways designated as “serious about each other” somehow didn’t fucking matter.
We don’t call each other, but I’ll drive out to hold her hand when she needs me.
We only get to see each other once every couple of months, but she’ll fucking face down a bunch of surgeons in the place of her to tell them, Give that man respect for what he is.
And I get shit sometimes because my relationships don’t look like the relationships traditionally considered “deep,” and sometimes I buy into that. Maybe I’m shallow. Maybe my girlfriends just function because they don’t ask too much.
Then moments like that happen and I remember what love is.
I’m alone in a hotel room. Ironically, I’m texting her. She’s still up, still talking to me, and with luck I’ll see her tomorrow and go to her parents’ house for breakfast.
I love her.
I love her.
I love her.

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