It was one of those instant attraction situations. For me anyway, I won’t speak for them. Love at first sight even, but without the sexual component of that complex mathematical equation any two people are constantly calculating, yet simmering with possibility and atypical romance all the same. Like the opening scene of a movie you just know is going to envelop you for the next 97 minutes, so you start texting your friends YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS 15 minutes into it, and for roughly three weeks after. It should be noted, we the people have a heightened tendency to romanticize life when on holiday, especially in a foreign country. And there I was, on holiday in a foreign country, wide open to possibility and atypical romantic adventures.
Context is key.
He first manifested during the four-hour breakfast window at our intimate retreat comprised of nine small villas on the Zipolite coast of Oaxaca, Mexico. And boooooy, was he something. Like a sacred tree, a willow maybe, one that stands apart from all the others. Think the Game of Thrones weirwood tree of life, which I swear isn’t also because of his slight resemblance to AquaMan, aka Jason Momoa aka Khal Drogo (le sigh). A casual yet solid presence with his majestic locks, skirt and general good vibes flowing in the gentle breeze, slipping through the open ocean air. My people.
“A large tree with long, flowing branches and leaves, the willow tree often symbolizes flexibility and adaptability. The limber and supple nature of its extremities means it bends to accommodate and withstand strong winds and adverse weather. The leaves represent the balance, harmony, and growth we experience through these storms and life challenges. The willow tree gives us hope, a sense of belonging, and safety. Furthermore, the ability to let go of the pain and suffering to grow new, strong and bold.” (the internet)
Sounds about right.
By the next morning, we were walking along side-by-side, naked with the waves**, our long beachy hair dancing behind us, more comfortable maybe than I’ve ever been, more free and beautiful than I’ve ever felt, more at peace with my body than I imagined possible, and extremely satisfied with every single life choice involved in getting me right there to that very moment with my stranger friend and our mutual understanding of each other without explanation. Christopher, deeply in love and acquainted with his femininity, navigating his place in the queer world, and me, deeply aware of how far I’d strayed navigating my own life via acute corners, wrong turns, and dead ends. How’s that for romance?
I’ve spent the past three years taking unexpected detours after Covid derailed my regularly scheduled program in 2020, beginning with a CDT dream deferred. Still working with the same television set, I was just in a position to watch something local for a bit. So I did.
Clicking through sea of advertisements and sitcoms, I eventually landed on MiNo🥕, a documentary about a quirky married (at the time, but not exactly like that) vegetable farmer with three kids part-time (ALL GIRLS 😳). It was an unexpectedly delicious change of pace. I stopped wearing deodorant (though that habit had been spotty at best since 2015) stopped caring about hair everywhere (for no reason other than it was simply too easy not to), journeyed 35 minutes out to a farm a few times a week, filled the slots on the no kids schedule, ate a LOT more vegetables and sometimes drove a tractor.
It was really lovely. Until my free-bird ways clashed with his pre-determined days and it was time to change the channel. There’s more to the story, but only paying subscribers get that content. As I am prone to severe overcorrection, the pendulum then swung hard to a free-like-me academic ecologist whom, while walking down the yellow brick road had followed the wild rabbit way too deep down the rabbit hole. Lost and found and back again, he was having a hard time scurrying up & out, and my arm just wasn’t long enough to reach him.
Both channels, though wildly different, revealed a lot about who I am, who I want to be, where I want to go, and for that I am grateful. I am constantly learning new things about myself. For example, I actually enjoy having my shit together, who knew? I kind of like that soft touch of domestication. But like, in the most undomesticated way. Is it strange to want a feral life with a dash of domesticity? Is it too much to ask for bacon on my veggie sub?
But what is dating if not pruning yourself into your best version? Experimenting with who you are and who you want to be, fine-tuning what you think you need, what you’re not willing to sacrifice, testing your limits, your boundaries, taking risks, overcoming obstacles, getting to know ALL the pieces of your own puzzle, while simultaneously discovering how your individual piece fits within the context of another person’s masterpiece. Many people attempt to do this with one person, often in a marriage, which I imagine can be a complicated, tricky business. A lot of eggs in one delicate basket. I prefer to prune my tree with the help of many. Very few vessels I’m not open to embracing, but how long we hug? Time will tell. And I am fine-tuning my pruning as the years pass, especially wary of the crafts with leeches that will secretly suck you dry, shriveling you up til you’re left with little choice, though admittedly, sometimes I prefer being left with none.
I was chatting with a friend (a particularly educating documentary on my ole’ boob tube) about my recent endeavors and his message was reassuring, sort of a sign that it’s okay to keep being me, cuz sometimes, we need a fricking sign, man:
Your affinity for weirdos, strays, and ne’re-do-wells is the stuff of legend. We thank you for it. Never change.
Some people already know these things about themselves, but me? I’m a dedicated lifelong student of relationships. I need to be taught. I’ve learned I need to be encouraged to explore the nooks and crannies that keep tapping me on the shoulder, and not held back by someone else’s insecurities. I need someone to know I can’t be their everything and they will never be mine. I need to be free to live the life I’ve shaped and carved and polished with intention for 42 years, not the fixer upper for someone not interested in doing the work.
Until then, I’m in a polyamorous relationship with the world and my primary partner is myself.
**Well almost naked, I rocked a faux leather fringe fanny, because where do you put your essentials when you’re donning your birthday suit all fucking day, and yes, that resulted in a severe gringo-just-got-to-the-beach burn line that I decided was just who I was now. I maintained a loose relationship with the necessity of clothes for the remainder of our trip.