Family Day

LDFDC LOGO 2006 copy(1)

Today we decided to do family things. As a family. All five of us.

We weren’t able to spend Thanksgiving together this year, and though our separate celebrations were pleasant enough, it felt strange and a little sad to be apart. We won’t be doing that again. There comes a time for all of us, if we’re lucky enough, to be able to create our own primary family unit, and for my own well-being, I think the focus has to be on us first.  I think we’re all in agreement here. So we’ll have to hatch a plan for Christmas.

This morning we all got up slowly, then we toddled over to Fran’s for a late breakfast, and then took in Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs in 3d. The girls have never seen a 3d movie, and they were rocked to the core. At one point, the three-year-old reached over and said “Daddy, it looks like they’re in OUR world!”

During our brunch, my girlfriend got a call from her mom, who had finally opened the heartfelt email she’d sent on Friday. We were all on pins and needles, hoping she wouldn’t read it seconds before they arrived on her doorstep for Thanksgiving dinner. They had an epic, but lovely conversation where her mama basically told her that nothing had changed, she loved her just the same, and she was happy for her new found happiness. Her Facebook status today even contained the phrase “You learn something new every day, and it’s all good.” I can’t wait to meet this woman! She also invited me for Christmas day celebrations. I was so happy watching my girlfriend’s face while she spoke to her mother. It was easy to see the conversation was going well. As far as her dad’s concerned, her mom just seems to think that he’ll figure my boyfriend is the luckiest man in the world.

When I turned 30, my boss at the time took me to see an amazing psychic named John Pothia in Peterborough. I don’t put a lot of stock in these things, but it was interesting to hear what he had to say. In fact, it was a pretty incredible experience. He said a lot of very positive things, but two things in particular stand out these days.

Rather completely out of the blue he said “Straight, gay, it makes no difference and the sooner you stop worrying about this, the happier you’ll be.”

Then, at the end of the reading, when I asked him about children in my future, he said “I see you having one biological child of your own, but also other children in a completely unexpected way. Stepchildren, or something like that.”

These people are my family. Our bond gets stronger every day. Our older girl includes me when she speaks of “our family”, and whenever this happens my heart melts a little. My mother sent an email to my partners today wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving, which was really incredible, and next week we’re all piling into my little brother’s condo, so the girls can meet “my giant” (my brother is 6’7) and we can all just be together.

I would never have imagined this for myself. When I thought about my family unit, I always had a notion that it would be a little non-traditional, but I could never have conjured this. Yet somehow I did. We did. I took the time to heal my heart and my head, and here we’ve all found each other.

In restaurants, nobody stares. In our building, the concierge desk is manned by friendly, polite security officers who smile knowingly as we come and go. In the hustle and bustle of this big city we are just another unit of people, and to most of our loved ones, this is just another way to experience life and love.

It might be the greatest joy my life has ever known.

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Keeping It In The Cupboard

This is the first image I found when I Googled "inside the kitchen cupboard"

This is the first image I found when I Googled "inside the kitchen cupboard"

Last night I had a heart-to-heart with the male third of my triad. We launched into this seated on the kitchen floor, half tucked inside the cupboard where the Tupperwear is stored, because we were looking for suitable containers for the girls’ lunch.

I am the first in our triad to tell my parents about what is happening in my life. I decided to do this for three reasons:

1.) My mom can read my mind and would have very quickly figured out that something was up anyway.

2.) Once upon a time in my personal history I sort of ambushed her with really significant personal news. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time because she had so much on her own plate, but as it turns out, this is going to be on the very short list of things I regret, probably forever.

3.) My extended family has had WAAYYY too many secrets. My mom was open and honest with me about our family’s skeletons and stories from the time I was old enough to understand the answers to the questions I was asking. I’ve never lived with secrets myself, because I am convinced that they give you cancer.

I maintain that my partners should talk to their families when they feel the time is right. I really do think this is important, but part of me knows I can’t really settle into this, and really learn to feel secure until that hurdle has been met.

I’ve only met my male partner’s parents. Most of the year they live on another continent, but they’ve been in Toronto since August, and we’ve had three occasions now to spend time together. Usually in a crowded, noisy, fairly public situation. They think I’m a dear friend, and by some miracle, neither of the kids have said anything like “Are you gonna sleep over again tonight Schnoo?” or “Schnoo stays at our house all the time” in front of their grandparents. The current strategy is to have these folks get to know me as a Schnoo first, and then when the time is right, tell them the rest of the story. I am skeptical that there is ever a right time to tell your parents that you’ve taken on a second woman, who is a lover to your wife, and who you want to have more children with. Hmmm…

As for the kidlets, they also think I’m a dear friend who stays over. A lot. I suppose that’s right, isn’t it? I haven’t really stayed at the Fortress of Solitude for over a month. In November, the clan will head off continent to spend time with his family. Six weeks of time in fact. I think I’ve been stock-piling my time with them knowing how shitty November will be.

He might tell his parents in November.

So presently, as was the case last night, I am half in and half out of the cupboard. The result is a strange mixture of freedom and sadness. I just want to get it over with, you know? Face any impending shit storms head on. Engage in epic conversations with worried and angry parents now, and then really settle into my life. Our life. No more monitoring photos posted on Facebook by friends, no more pretending to sleep on the couch, no more worrying over what the children may say to their grandparents. I can make a home, we can make a home, both physically and emotionally, and that will be truly sweet.

This has made me reflect on my own familial relationships. My parents are clearly a huge influence in my world, because in my own head and heart I couldn’t really enter into this relationship until I’d told them what was happening. Maybe I seek their approval too much? Maybe I need to sever the umbilical cord, and trust that my decisions are 100% my own, and that my parents will love me whether or not they approve of my choices? I’m happy to report that I think they’re doing really well with everything, considering. My dad seemed his usual self when I finally saw him in person, and my mom, though still trying hard to understand, is making overtures of friendship and camaraderie with my partners. I’m really happy about this. Also, one of my aunts has been incredible, both as a supportive, non-judgemental ear for my mom, and an understanding confidante for me. It delights me that she can talk about God and the various ways that love can manifest with clarity and conviction.

Love like this has made me want to shout it from the rooftops, but that just isn’t very practical in such a situation. Instead, there is a particular Rubbermaid cereal container that I’ve been whispering my devotions into.

For You, And Anyone Else Just Like You.

Parrots
Hi Schnoo!
I just wanna say kudos for your bravery for stating exactly how you are feeling and what you are going through…it is not easy, and i am happy to see that you are happy!
I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and you have definitely grown in the past year or so, and it has been amazing to read.  I found your blog through a friend of a friend of mine and yours, and I have loved the forray into your thoughts, because they are not unlike my own.  I was also married (too young) and divorced, and on a journey of self-discovery.  I have often felt myself that I am bisexual, and have never encountered anyone who can see themselves in a polyamorous relationship, so thank you for letting me see that there are more of us out there!  It is something that is never ever talked about freely in our culture, and me and my partner have always been interested in that, but we never knew if there were others out there who are open like that.  Thank you for opening up the dialogue on this issue, as I think that you doing so has started people on the acceptance route a lot easier than if you hadn’t.  Thank you.
In terms of how you met these two, was there a forum where you met, as me and my partner have been finding it extremely difficult to find anyone else out there who sees these types of relationships as okay?
Thank you for the past few months, as your journey has definitely been one that I have identified with.

I read this comment last night in a cab on my way to the Manuge et Toi fashion show/burlesque cavalcade (fabulous, by the way). It’s not at all surprising, here in Schnooville, to receive a note such as this after exchanging a lovely dialogue with my dear auntie about why I write here the way that I do. This lovely reader, who wishes to be anonymous, has said it all.

And so, to answer her questions…

I met my partners through a friend, at a show on the patio of the Cadillac Lounge in early July of 2008. Early July has always heralded magic into my life. It wasn’t until April of 2009 that we decided to really take a chance and try to explore our relationship in a new way.

Naturally, one of the first things we did was start to consult the Internet for additional information, resources, and other people like us. Sadly, there isn’t much out there, so I can completely relate to this reader’s frustration. I’m currently combing through the various websites, forums and blogs that I’ve discovered. As I find ones that are really compelling, I will post links to them here.

If any of you have links or resources that have been helpful to you, please post them in your comments.

To my reader above – a very sweet cyber-friend sent me this link:
http://www.torontobinet.org/events/bifriendly/elpg.htm

I haven’t yet been to an event, but I certainly plan to check it out.

Thank you for your very kind words.

x

Schnoo

The Tribal Council

tribes5

Nearly twice a week the adult members of my tribe, usually at that quiet time once the kids are finally asleep, sit down sleepily with a nightcap in hand and our latest Genius list to amuse and delight our ears. Inevitably, especially after a series of really good days, a collection of horizontal lines creases up my forehead like a tiny, fleshy accordion.

That’s when the male member of my tribe will gently trace a finger over my brow and softly ask “what’s on your mind”? And I will sigh heartily, and muse silently about whether or not to have the same conversation we’ve had about 1000 times already. Then, because I believe communication will be paramount to this relationship, I launch into my familiar litany:

Will I have to remain a secret forever?
How and when do we tell the girls?
When can we stop pretending that I sleep on the couch?
How much do we care about what outsiders think, and how open can we be with our displays of affection when we’re all together?
How worried are you about other people thinking you are having an affair?
If we decide to have another child what/how do we tell the girls?
Will I ever be able to appear at family functions? Will my family accept you at ours?
What will we do when family members start trying to set me up with other people?

At this moment, I have a three and a half year old in my lap who is licking me like a puppy…

Both of my partners listen patiently. Then we talk through possible scenarios and what ifs. We usually laugh together, and get a bit pensive. I apologize for ONCE AGAIN having to talk about all the same things, but nobody is mad at me. My male partner tells me that only through talking about my fears are we all able to address our worry, and put it into context, and take away some of its power. My female partner usually sits silently listening, but will then look up at me and the calm, quiet of her gaze says all of the words that I need to hear.

In this relationship, more than any other in my life, I am positive that I will realize everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Though we three are all very different, we have the exact same approach to life, and we all want the same kind of experience of the world. We love the same things, from music to food, we’re committed to seeing as much of the world that we can, we realize that beyond family and close friends there isn’t much else that’s truly important. When you take the lid off and look inside, it’s a really ideal diorama. However, the problem with lifting off the lid is that the rest of the world can squeak in. Some of the rest of the world isn’t so thrilled for us.

Something that I read last night stated that what we are doing is challenging thousands of years of the tradition of marriage. I think this was worded more like “flipping the bird at” but I really couldn’t disagree more. In my own Schnooie head, we are kicking it WAAAY old school. Like pre-Christian old school when tribes came together and lovingly raised children collectively. People in those days didn’t claim ownership of children. They were gifts from the gods, and a very serious responsibility for everyone. Am I naive to think that this model has a place in our modern age?

I have a lawyer friend who specializes in family law who is near drooling whenever I talk about my relationship. She says proudly that we are setting a new precedent. After years and years of helping heterosexual couples weed through messy divorces and child custody battles, she believes that we are brave and enlightened.

Last week my partners hosted a dinner party for some of my oldest, closest friends. He cooked a truly elaborate and spectacular Thai feast and she assisted, and turned the house into a lovely, tidy little haven. The girls were at their most charming, and everyone was cast in warm light, smiling and laughing together like old friends. I can’t remember the last time I was so happy.

One of my girlfriends, who has borne witness to my last two big relationships, told me last night that she has never seen me so still, so calm, and so committed. Not even to the man who I went on to marry. She doesn’t comment often on my relationships. She usually is a great ear, but will only give her opinion if pressed. Last night she offered this freely.

I think of my gay friends who have had to deal with outside scrutiny for their whole lives. Who move forward with life and love despite the popular opinion that their existence is ‘strange’ or ‘abnormal’. From the time I was very wee, I realized that I wasn’t like the other kids, and only now, at 33 am I beginning to understand exactly what that means. My new realizations, my new choices don’t change who I am. I feel like this is the next essential layer on my path to self-realization. My life feels ‘normal’ now. The restlessness I’ve always fought with has dissipated. Perhaps it will come back, but for now I’m enjoying this great sense of peace, and this near-overwhelming sense of happiness and belonging. I suppose everything must come with a price, and negotiating the judgements and criticism of the outside world is nothing new to me.

On Sunday I planned and executed the six year old’s first official birthday party. It was a huge success, and I met many of the parents of her school mates, who all seemed like warm, lovely people. We offered no explanation about our relationship, and when two of the moms asked my female partner what our relation was, she said “Schnoo is a very, very dear friend.” The both smiled and shook their heads ruefully and said “Where can WE get a Schnoo?”

I like to think they’d be even more eager to acquire one of me if they knew how my love extends well beyond party planning.

Poly. Want a Cracker?

Fiesta Party Pack - Best Served With Tequila

Fiesta Party Pack - Best Served With Tequila

Last night was one of the most lovely, multi-layered social gatherings I’ve ever been a part of. A backyard concert, gypsy jazz style, with delicious treats to pass around and lots of family and familiar faces. And lots of first-time introductions.

In the course of one week, both my parents are now in the know about the fact that I’m bisexual. And now, I suppose, so are the rest of you.

In kindergarten, I got busted trying very hard to see what was up Mrs. Squires’ skirt during story time, and this curiosity has played out in games of doctor, tickle fight, show and tell, spin the bottle, and I’m in art school so why-the-fuck-not until I was entirely aware that it wasn’t ever going to go away. At 33, I’d only ever made it to second base with another woman, and then, finally single for an extended period, I admitted that I could not go the rest of my life never really knowing just how gay I am.

This year, I finally found the girl for me. I’m her first full-fledged foray into the land of Sapphic delights too, and I’m happy to say that I’m now a card-carrying member of the bisexual community, and have discarded my bi-curious training wheels once and for all.

I believe, in my case, that it is part of my genetic make up. I don’t think I chose this, I think it chose me, back in the zygote days. Also, from the time I started preschool, I demonstrated an openness and acceptance that was rare in children in the Catholic school system. I’m positive that I had gay friends long before any of us knew what gay was.

Being a bisexual in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship is impossible. My love of girl parts goes a long way to relieving my fear that I would never be able to have a “normal” relationship with a man, marry again, or have babies. As it turns out, I don’t want to. Have a “normal” relationship, that is. That model just doesn’t work for me.

Around the same time I met my girl, I also met an extraordinary man. One of the sexiest men I’ve ever known in fact. I was captivated, and more than a little afraid of a very powerful attraction that I thought I had hidden quite well.

Somehow, I had met both an incredible attractive woman, and an incredibly attractive man who share my love of life, of living in the moment, finding beauty everywhere in the world, and my love of tradition and family. True sensualists, they both love food, art, great music, books, travel…they are brilliant and inspiring, and they each happen to love me in all my Schnooie goodness, exactly as I am.

The best part of this story? They were a package deal. I met them as an existing couple, who have been together for many years. Who have a beautiful home, and a beautiful family, and our friendship blossomed into something most extraordinary.

I write this today, on the tail end of telling the closest members of my family about this decision. About this relationship that I am committed to pursuing. I’ve decided to write about our experience here, because I’m comfortable sharing so much of myself, and because I hope that this will be useful to anyone else who has chosen a similar path.

This window into Schnooville has always been an exploration of life, and love, and my own pursuit of happiness, and this next chapter will be no different. I just feel it’s important to let you know that there are a few more characters in the story now.

When I stopped looking, I realized that everything I wanted was here all along. Now social gatherings, and soirees are spent deciding how to cleverly introduce each other to our loved ones, and to whom we will disclose our relationship over tapenade or cracked pepper chevre spread.

High fives all around, Universe.