Posts Tagged Polyamory
And now, the conclusion from last week’s cut scene.
Brian’s eyes didn’t move, nor did he flinch. Nathan was fairly certain that Brian’s 6’1” stature and typical SoCal demeanor meant he didn’t back down, but he was also fairly certain this didn’t happen to him too often. Brian’s next words, however much he had dialed up the intensity between them, were serious.
“So do you sacrifice animals?”
Sharon grabbed her purse while Nathan responded. “No, my tradition is against it. While I understand the mystical importance of sacrifice, I find most people today put more value in objects than living beings: the better sacrifices are something that you would care to lose. I’m also not going to ask anyone else to do something I’m not willing to do myself, and since an animal wouldn’t understand…”
Sharon was pushing at Brian, since she was on the inside of the booth. Brian finally looked at her, and Nathan drank down the remainder of his sake. “What?”
“I would like to use the restroom if you don’t mind; you boys play nice while I’m gone.” Sharon got up after Brian did; Nathan was pouring another shot of sake for himself.
Brian spoke first. “I’m sorry if I’m being an ass.”
“Don’t worry; I like my guys with spunk.” Nathan cracked a half-smile.
Brian chuckled again. “So, what exactly does it mean, being a Shaman?”
“What does it mean being a Catholic? Not trying to be obtuse, but… What you’re asking for is a context that isn’t easy to explain. When someone says they’re Catholic people have certain preconceived and hard to explain notions that go along with that. I can’t bundle up and give you those same preconceived notions for Shamanism. At its most basic it means that at some point, when I am ready, whatever Divine force that set the Universe in motion will send me people that need guidance, and I will have to do my best to guide them in whatever way I can, eventually, the people who listen to me will constitute a community of their own. It means a life of spiritual service, same as being a priest, or a community leader.”
Brian took another sip. “So why do it?”
Nathan shrugged. “I don’t have an answer for that. I wanted my life to have meaning, and this was the meaning I found. I embrace it, and everything that comes with it.” Brian nodded.
Sharon returned from the bathroom shortly after the food had arrived. The two had been sitting in relative silence. Brian had broken off conversation to answer a text, and Nathan was trying to surreptitiously stare at Brian’s physique. “What’d I miss?”
Brian turned to her. “What? Oh… nothing, food just got here. Danny was texting me to see what we were doing. They bought two twelve-packs of Corona and have pulled out the beer pong table.”
“Oh no, last time we went Danny puked in my car while we were taking him home. I am not going anywhere near that beer-pong table.”
“Chill, I told him I’d ask you what we were doing anyways.”
Sharon hmphed as the waiter came back with the masago. Brian looked at it, then up at Nathan. “Is that…?”
“Yup. It’s kinda like caviar, only a lot less expensive, and slightly less flavorful. It tastes a lot like egg yolk and salt, with a different texture. I’m actually really bad at explaining this.”
Brian smiled, “You can explain a religion that I imagine is rather rare to people that know nothing about it, but food is out of the question?”
Nathan smiled back, one side larger than the other, crinkling that eye as he answered “Yup,” just before popping the piece of sushi in his mouth.
The following scene was cut from the original copy because of word counts, but in case you were curious as to what happened between Brian, Sharon and Nathan during that first date, here it is. Keep in mind, this is effectively still a rough draft, since it was never developed beyond that.
“I was born when I was 16. Not literally of course.”
Brian chuckles. Sharon looks confused. The two of them, and Nathan, are at a sushi restaurant.
Brian interrupts, “Before we get too deep into this, I just wanted to say thanks for having dinner with us. We know it’s a little awkward to be invited out by a couple, but we talked and we think you’re pretty cool.”
“Well, sexy, to be specific, but cool as well,” Sharon says.
“Now, what were you saying?”
“No worries, I welcome the opportunity to get to know anyone down here. Living as far north as I do, well, it’s hard to keep friendships when you’re unwilling to travel and hang out, mainly because of being strapped for cash. Where was I?”
Sharon answers, “Being born at 16, which I don’t get.”
“Oh yeah, when I was 16, I dedicated myself to being a Shaman. I had been studying Neo-Paganism since I was 10, but hadn’t really done anything about it. During the summer after I turned 16, my Dad and step-family went down to Mexico. We were in Alcapulco.”
“Why?” Brian asks.
“We went several places: Mexico City, the ruins at Teotihuacan, and Alcapulco. My step-mother is from Mexico, we were visiting her family so that my step-siblings could see their grandparents. In short, the trip had absolutely nothing to do with me and I thought it was pointless.”
“So, you speak Spanish because you’re Mexican?” says Sharon as the waiter puts down the sake order for the table.
“No.” Nathan shakes his head as he pours a shot of sake. Rather unceremoniously he quickly dips the pad of his finger into the sake to test the temperature. “My father and I are Puerto Rican, my step-family is Mexican.”
Brian, while pouring himself a shot of sake: “What’s the difference?” He laughs at his own joke. Nathan smiles, and takes a sip.
“Anyways… I was practicing meditating and Journey-work while I was there—“
“What’s Journey-work?” Sharon asked, interrupting.
“Journey-work is what a Shaman does, at its very essence. Neo-Pagans and Wiccans have spells, a Shaman has Journeys. They both work according to similar principals, but using different processes. A spell or ritual requires outside motions and mnemonic cues for the sub-conscious; a Journey takes place within the sub-conscious, in what is called the Otherworlds.” Ever pedantic, Nathan pauses to take a sip and allow questions.
Brian eyebrow arches, as his tongue moves under his lips as though he has a piece of meat stuck there, he looks intently at Nathan, and as he goes to speak the waiter appears to ask for their orders. Instead of asking his question, he turns to the waiter, “I’ll have the beef teriyaki bowl.”
Sharon goes next, “California roll and miso soup.”
“I’ll have an order of masago nigiri, miso soup, and a dragon roll.”
With the waiter gone, Brian turns back to Nathan. “Two questions, now. What is masago-whatever, and, so are you like, a Harry Potter wannabe?”
Sharon turns slowly to look at Brian, eyes wide, when she is finally facing him her left hand moves to her right shoulder, rubbing lightly. “Could you be less of a dick, babe? ‘Kay thanks.”
Nathan watches the two, aware the Brian hasn’t bothered to look at her. “Masago is Smelt roe, nigiri is the presentation… you’ll see. And no, Harry Potter is a fictionalized representation borrowing on elements of fairy-tale traditions of the British Isles. Shamanism is a valid religious practice, my religious practice, to be precise.” Nathan locked eyes with Brian and held them there. “You get one warning that I am serious about my religion and what I do. Treat it frivolously and I’ll think you ignorant and not worth talking to. Serious questions however, I will answer without hesitation.”
A short monodrama written for my Writing for Performance Class. Enjoy!
Fade in: male, 18-24 demographic, rail-thin almost skeletal, clean-cut, short hair (which coincidentally makes him look much younger). He speaks quickly, seems . Despite that however there is a quiet strength to his character. He holds his head high, and flippantly speaks of tragedy. He is dressed simply: American Eagle shirt, Gap jeans, belt, sneakers (likely worn). Seems to think out loud, at least in a private setting. He sits, knitting, Michael Bublé’s “Everything” fade’s out as light’s fade in. Character hums along while knitting for a short while.
Sound of door opening, character looks up expectantly, almost blissfully. As it is obvious someone else is talking, the character’s expression changes from bliss, to a studied non-emotion. His voice is pitched soft, as though negotiating with someone about to jump off a roof, or otherwise equally irrational.
Quick flash of alarm, then stonefaced:
I see. [Tone changes to despondency.] Can I have a day before I tell him?
Pause. Followed by sound of door closing. Character winces, puts down the knitting, sighs, stands, runs hands over his face, looks almost at the knitting, partially off stage-apron. When he speaks, it almost seems as though he is speaking to himself.
But I don’t want to get rid of our boyfriend [Beat] Can’t say he didn’t bring up good points though, and at the very least James isn’t angry because I’m paying more attention to Eric, which I’m desperately trying not to and terrified I am, but because Eric isn’t paying enough attention to James.
But I love Eric. And James. Who said I can’t love two people evenly? ‘Cause they can shove it. I fought long and hard in order to figure out who I am, and I have never been happier damn it.
Maybe I should just explain why this is terrible for me. James should understand… But he does have a REALLY good point… It’s just, Sigh I really do love him, them… both. I finally get to express who I really am in a relationship. And of course it turns sour. Story of my life.
Take San Francisco for instance. Growing up gay, S. F. is the West Coast Mecca of gay culture. You go through High School tormented; if not by others then by exactly how much of yourself you let loose, by whether or not to be yourself or whether or not you let yourself be eaten by the mob mentality. And the only thing that makes that bearable is the knowledge that once you graduate, you get to be Elsewhere.
And then life takes that away. That semester of indecision in Junior year full of nothing takes any immediate sense of escape away from you. So you stay behind, do some community college (Aside: With a vengeance) to get everything in order so that you can finally get to the City.
And you do! Miracle of life; everything falls into place and you’re on a moving truck with your life in the back, getting someplace where it won’t matter what your sexuality is, or whether or not you choose to parade it around on top of a float.
Except the pieces that make up that picture don’t fall quite right. So you pretend that your roommate isn’t a drug addict high on meth every time you see her. You pretend the job you got at a different branch of the same company you were working for doesn’t eat away at your soul or individuality or whatever. You shove those concerns that maybe you didn’t finalize something for transfer into the deep recesses of your mind. You pretend your roommate didn’t just invite her dealer to live with both of you. You spend more and more time out of the house. After all, you’re in paradise right?
Then you come home one morning the day after finding out your conditional acceptance was revoked on the basis of HALF of a credit, after spending the night with the guy you’re sleeping with (who, you conveniently ignore also sells Acid) and is begging you to try monogamy one more time, begging you to try and ignore your most recent revelation about yourself, and you come home in the morning… And the police are raiding your apartment for drugs.
Pause, the character seems to be composing himself.
It’s when you’re confronted with the evidence of a plastic nightstand drawer full of meth, pills, and other sundries, a brick of coke and a half-pound of meth that everything falls apart. Then the questions start, did you know? what were you doing? Standard interrogation questions. And you think to yourself, “What the fuck was I doing? How did I let it get to this point?” And the only answer you can come up with is:
Because it was comfortable. Because you didn’t have to worry about who you were, just what you were doing, and you weren’t used to dealing with just what you were doing and you were having [Forcefully] so much fun… So comfort won out over common sense. Story of my life.
And now… Now James is mad because Eric isn’t paying attention to him; he’s mad because Eric isn’t living up to his end of his bargain. So now I have to make the same choice, yet again: do I throw away the last three and a half years of my life for ridiculously fantastic sex, and a partner that doesn’t care that I don’t only love him? Or… do I accept the comfort that my life has become, and say goodbye to someone I love.
I know that this should be an easy choice. Ideologically I want to say that you should always follow your heart… But 3-and-a-half years are hard to throw away. And… I mean, me and James, we’re partners. He’s been with me almost 4 years; he knew what he was getting into when we started dating. I told him up front that I wasn’t monogamous and he needed to be okay with me having sex and being emotional with other people. No choice, it was that or we stop dating. But he stuck through it, stayed with me.
Now, we’ve been through some shit. James being thrown in the brig, our roommates turning against us in a crisis, loosing friends because of our relationship (which I still tell myself was for the better). But it all comes down to the fact that we’re partners. Our lives have become inseparable by now. And not in any sort of romantic ephemeral way, but more concretely just by the simple fact that I’m never sure whose money is paying for which bill. Financially, emotionally, we’re pretty much joined at the hip.
God! I can’t believe I’m struggling over this. I know James would be devastated if I broke it off with him, and considering the plethora of mental issues, I’m not sure he wouldn’t kill himself. Which yes, I know, it isn’t my fault if he does. But… I can’t even describe what this is like. The best analogy I can give is that… it’s like that first time you fell in love. For me, it’s like the first relationship with another man I ever had. There’s this glow as you know that finally, for the first time you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing to make yourself happy.
Alright, it wasn’t quite like that for me. I suspect it isn’t quite like that for anyone. And to be fair, it wasn’t like that when I met James either, so none of this happily-ever-after symbolism. But that first relationship… well, when you’re gay there’s a little more at stake in regards to putting yourself out there for dating. So, nailing that first relationship… pun… ignore it. That first relationship definitely has some angels singing. I don’t know, I suspect even then some part of me knew that this wasn’t everything, that there was more that I was missing.
And then when James invited Eric into the relationship, and Eric said yes… Well I was in Heaven. I’m sure James noticed there was some chemistry the night before but I hadn’t dared to hope. Then… [Pause, shake head smiling, continue] I must have looked like a fool. There I am, standing at the theater, its opening night for The Last Airbender (I know, I’m a geek…), and I get a text from James. Saying… well, it’s a text, it says exactly what I just said: that Eric says yes to joining the relationship. After that there was a lot of bouncing around excitedly. It was great. That was when it felt like I was finally doing something right, something that validated who I was deep down.
So now… now I have to choose which one is more important to me. Can I survive without validation? Probably. God knows I’ve done it before. Can I survive knowing I’ve cast out someone I love? That’s tricky… James said he didn’t live up to his side of the bargain; he couldn’t love both of us equally in any discernable way. I have to agree. So he went against his own word… I could survive, but it wouldn’t be easy. Can I survive without my other half? [Slowly] Well… not really, no. That’s where the life I’m living falls apart; obliterates itself in a white-hot mass of emotionality, yeah something would take its place, something always does. But do I want it to?
Pause, he looks out into the audience, scanning around as though looking around a room he turns, and sits back down, picking up the knitting and placing it in his lap, he looks once more where he’s been speaking.
I guess that settles it then.
He arranges himself to begin knitting again as the lights fade out, and Michael Bublé’s “End of May” fades in.
Dahlia picked up the snake, cradled it in one arm and watched it ineffectively bite her. She had its poison glands removed, so the bite didn’t do much more than hurt. Carefully she squeezed along its jaw, forcing it to open. She pulled it out of the top of her arm and wrapped it carefully around her neck, nestling it close. It was a game they often played. Dahlia believed that at some point the snake had probably become trained to bite her when it wanted food. It was simple, the snake bit her, Dahlia put it around her neck, the snake sniffed out the mouse that was hiding in Dahlia’s pocket and ate it. Even still, the chill in the air made Dahlia want to hold the snake more: warmth from her body would help the snake stay warm. It was a calculated affection, somehow suitable for this animal.
She walked into the kitchen with the snake resting peacefully on her shoulders, flicking its tongue around. Unlike constrictors, it wouldn’t wrap, just rest comfortably wherever she placed it. Once it got warmer, it would start moving around more, exploring more. The kettle started whistling as soon as Dahlia entered the kitchen. She turned off the stove, carefully keeping her shoulders from any sudden source of heat. Doing that kept the snake from getting interested in anything other than her body heat, keeping it from going towards the searing hot stove.
Easing her shoulders up towards the tea cabinet, she pulled down an Echinacea blend, placed into her mug and poured hot water over the tea. She watched the water seep into the smaller pieces, lifting them up. The hibiscus let out its characteristic blood-red ink-swirl, staining the water. Dahlia watched the various pieces of plant matter drift in the water, the cells taking water in and releasing their long held oils and flavors. She picked out the red clover, orange peel, and licorice root. The hibiscus was easy of course, and the other pieces were too similar and small to be identifiable. The only reason the red clover wasn’t unidentifiable was because it stayed bright green no matter how dried out it got.
She looked down into the cup from directly above, inhaling the fragrant steam coming off of it; the snake did the same. Dahlia heard the door unlocking as her husbands walked in. They laughed, probably at something that had happened during the workday. Her husbands worked near each other, so they only took one car and left the other with her. Didn’t do her much good though. Dahlia did not have the inclination to go hunting for employment, despite its necessity. She watched them walk in, detached from everything. She was feeling that more and more, but it was a standard point in her long-shifting moods, so she didn’t pay it any mind. Ivan leaned in for a kiss, moving on towards the shower, but John stayed back. He busied himself with putting down his briefcase and hanging up his jacket.
John did not like the snake. It was not that John did not like that they had it (although it did bother him), merely he didn’t want it near him. John said it was not from fear. Dahlia acquiesced to his concerns when she needed to. She understood, to a degree, his hesitation of the snake. Dahlia could not stand touching things that had once belonged to a dead creature. There was no reason or rationale to it, those things simply acted to her as nails on a chalkboard did to others. She gained nothing from contradicting John, or believing it to be other than as he said, so she accepted his reality on this matter.
She dunked her tea bag while John finished what he was doing, and then walked back over to the cage and put the snake back inside. She turned on the sun lamp for it, since they did not use the central heating. John and Ivan both did enough exercise that they produced copious amounts of their own body heat; should Dahlia ever get cold, she had her choice of who to cuddle with. Now that the snake was secure, she turned to find John behind her. He wrapped her close to him, breathed in the scent of her hair, and kissed her lips passionately. She returned his ardor, as there was no one else in the room to receive what little passion was left within her reserves. He murmured sweet nothings to Dahlia, how he had missed her, spent most of the day thinking about her. She giggled as appropriate, murmured some comforting remark and pulled him closer to her again. After a few seconds, and another passionate kiss, he made suggestive mention of joining Ivan in the shower, and scampered off.
John was the young one, the firebrand, full of passions and delusions about how the world worked and what acceptable behavior was. In this matter Dahlia was irrational: she acknowledged that his behavior had to be considered acceptable somewhere, but refused to acknowledge that such behavior was acceptable in her own world. His was such a care-free nature, such disregard for consequence… It simply could not be. This was not to say that she loved him less, or even that she loved Ivan more for understanding her world. It was just a difference, and one that like so many others, she tolerated.
While the men enjoyed themselves in the shower, she looked once more into the cage to find the snake looking at her. Its eyes, a glassy yellow complementing the “base” color of its scales, were glued on her as she moved into the kitchen to retrieve her tea and back to the living room, where the snake’s terrarium was kept. Its tongue flicked out as she sipped on the hot beverage, warming herself with tea and trying to decide what they would do tonight.