Sunday August 11th, 12:45p.m.
Whipped cream is dripping from Sweetheart’s face and running down his shirt onto the fret-board of his guitar, and yet somehow the show goes on and we play our next tune, my side stitched from laughter and Sweetheart blinded by the sugar.
We’ve made it to Lincoln, Nebraska, where we are surrounded by the assortment of punks and hippies who have gathered for our backyard show. Sometimes, to pass the time when we’re hitch-hiking, Sweetheart and I make up dumb games with prizes for victory and consequences for defeat. The pie-in-the-face was the consequence for failing to count the license plates from 35 states in a single afternoon on the highway.
Aside from the concerts, we had sex on top of an abandoned grain silo, dumpstered a box full of donuts, played street music, painted all over some previously gray walls.
The week in Lincoln was also Sweetheart’s and my first opportunity to test the boundaries of our polyamorous relationship. I had a Lover I was excited to reconnect with in town, and let Sweetheart know that I would be going on a date with said Lover.
For anyone not already familiar with my present relationship style, I’m polyamorous, meaning I am free to build and sustain relationships of different types with any number of people. In reality, it seems to me that lot’s of people are polyamorous –whether they are casually dating numerous people, cheating on their spouse, or secretly in love with someone who is not their partner — but being openly polyamorous means that I have really direct communication with all the people I’m interested in about my other romantic partners.
There is still a lot of room for interpretation here. Some poly people have ‘primary’ partners, people who are their first priority within a broader web of relationships. Sweetheart and I are still negotiating the boundaries of our own relationship, but the principle of autonomy, and being free to love whomever I love, is very important to me, and I gravitate toward non-hierarchical poly relationships.
But anyway, back to the story. One night while I was in town I stayed the night with Lover. He was v. depressed and emotionally closed off, so I just cuddled with him and supported him as a friend. I let Sweetheart know I would be home in the morning. When I returned the next day it felt like seeing eachother for the first time! We were so excited to see eachother I couldn’t stop blushing. There is a word for this feeling, compersion, which is feeling happy for your partner’s romantic experiences with other people. It’s essentially the opposite of jealousy.
It also meant that when I spent an evening talking books and politics on the tenth floor of a brick building downtown with a person I developed a crush on, I could share all my feelings honestly with Sweetheart without feeling like I needed to hide anything.
It’s really exciting building a relationship with Sweetheart and figuring out how to respect and celebrate our feelings for others as well. I’m reading a book called Sex At Dawn about how many cultures have been structured around polyamory, and how it tends to foster communalism and egalitarian gender relations. I’m hoping to build this kind of a community for myself, and autonomy is at the center of that.
We left Lincoln on a beautiful note, and hitched that afternoon to Grand Island when we found out a friend was actually driving from Lincoln to the South Dakota Spirit Camp the next day and could give us a ride. We decided to spend the night at the truck stop we were posted at, which offered pinball machines, snacks, and a free movie-by-request theater. We noticed that one of the theaters had an out-of-order sign and an unlocked door, so after watching a Wes Anderson movie on the functional screen, we went next door, laid out sleeping bags on the floor.
The next day we were on our way back to the Spirit Camp pipeline blockade.