Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Journey: Early Explorations in Poly

I'm a little late posting this week. I had a wonderful, but exhausting, experience at BOLD this weekend. Craig and I will be writing about the conference on our joint blog, and I'm sure BOLD will feature in my later entries about my journey into the lifestyle. But now, I'm back to the beginning.

My first relationship was a long one - nearly eight years with my elementary school sweetheart. But looking back, it was a very non-traditional relationship. My mother, an elementary school teacher by training and a very perceptive and amazing woman, informed my teacher at kindergarden roundup that I "got along better with boys than with girls." At the time, I only knew this was noteworthy because my mother made a point of preparing my teacher. Now, I understand that I was of an age where one typically enjoys the company of one's own gender. For now, I won't look into that any further than to say that I was a tom-boy.

My class had desks that seated two students, with a shared section between. My teacher seated me with a boy I will call Cody. In our small class of 16 students, we were the only gender mixed pair sharing a desk. My mother's instruction, it seemed, had been taken seriously by my teacher. We were fast friends. And sooner than I would like to admit, we were kissing in the coatroom.

But the remarkable thing about this relationship was not our matching, flame-red hair, or the speed of our friendship, or even the length of our childhood bond. No, the interesting thing about this pairing was the fact that we developed a poly relationship without any knowledge that such a thing existed.

You see, I grew up in a very small town with ultra conservative values. Even such ordinary things like divorce and remarriage were things that "other people did" (maybe, in extreme circumstances). But Cody and I faced a situation uncommon in childhood relationships and we addressed it with the openminded flexibility of problem-solvers.

Neither Cody nor I would ever get an award for perfect school attendance. We were both sickly children, in our own ways. I was plagued by ear infections and respiratory issues. Cody had several open-heart surgeries while we were in elementary school. All told, we probably missed more days of school than we attended. Faced with the untenable possibility of a school day without our significant other, we arranged to have "backup boyfriend/girlfriend(s)".

I overcame my inability to make friends with other girls, establishing two best girlfriends in elementary school. One of those girls was dating Cody's good friend. Looking back on the five of us, I see a fledgling leather family. With three girls and two boys, I always had someone to hold hands with, to hug, to play with, and to kiss - and yes, we explored the limits of our childhood relationships fairly openly among the group.

At the time, I thought of this as a convenience among good friends. Even when Cody and I "broke up" so that he could focus on a single relationship, I believed this was because he wished to go beyond my limits. (I was a late-bloomer, in terms of sexual/physical maturity, but more on that later.) It's only looking back that I see it was probably my unconventional definition of dating that caused his discomfort.

I left that relationship to try, unsuccessfully, to date a pair of fraternal twins. Yes, at the same time, openly. That didn't last, but it was fun.

The only thing I wonder, looking back at these early stories, is why it took me so long to realize I was poly!

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