“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
“Hey, we have to go,” she says.
“Uh huh,” he replies. “Just a minute.”
Kim spins around, a pained look on her face. “See what I mean?”
I nod. “If we don’t get there in time, they’ll be closed!”
“I know,” Chad says. “Seriously, just a minute.” He smiles, typing furiously.
“I fucking hate EverQuest,” Kim says.
“More like WhateverQuest,” I agree.
Another 15 minutes pass.
“C’mooooon,” Kim says, “You said you’d go to dinner with me.”
“I can’t. I’ll lose my camp,” he mutters. “I don’t have a fishbone earring yet on my ranger. It’s a rare spawn. Just go without me.”
We skulk off to the dining commons together. Kim stares dejectedly into the salad bar shield.
I scoop hummus into a paper cup. Restocking my dorm fridge contents.
“The anime club’s watching Akira tonight. Guy I went to high school with invited me. You and Chad can come with. I’m sure he’ll be done by then,” I say.
Kim smiles, nods.
But when we get back to Kennebec Hall, Chad is parked in the same spot.
“Hey honey,” Kim says.
He doesn’t react.
She walks over to the power strip and turns off the switch with her foot.
The Committee to Get Seth Laid
“You have to meet Seth,” Kim tells me.
“And Seth is?”
“Chad’s friend,” she says. “He’s really funny. You’d like him.”
“Maybe,” Chad says.
I glance at his screen. He appears to be shooting fireballs at something. “Hadoken!” I say.
“Not a nuke. Mezzing. Crowd control,” he corrects me.
“So you don’t think I’ll like Seth?'” I ask.
“You didn’t tell her about the committee, did you?” Chad asks Kim.
“The committee?” I ask.
“No,” Kim says.
The Committee to Get Seth Laid, they explain. Seth and I are the only 2 single people they know. So why not set us up?
“And besides,” Chad adds. “You’re… uh… affectionate. So. A sure thing?”
“Pig,” Kim says, punching him in the arm.
“Okay, I’ll do it.” I blush. “Meet Seth, I mean. Not do it. No guarantees there.”
“Cool,” Chad says. “I’ll message Seth and see when he’s free.” He starts typing.
Killing Kobolds or Something
The night I’m supposed to meet Seth, I’m meticulously dressed. Jeans that make my ass look great. Semi-sheer shirt with layers of multicolored lace. A vest affording me a whisper of modesty. I figure I can close it and cover myself up if I feel uncomfortable with him once we meet. Plus, Kim has half a thrift store’s worth of bulky sweaters in the back of her closet.
And bonus! You can hide behind the cable knits if it goes really bad.
“You look perfect,” Kim says. “Hot. But not like you’re trying too hard.”
“Ugh,” Chad says.
“What? Did you die?” Kim says. “Don’t tell me you have to do a corpse run. You’re supposed to hang out with us.”
It’s a group date. Chad and Kim’s idea. They think it might be lower pressure. I half-suspect the real reason is that they want front row seats to the show. When I go down in flames. Or fall in love. I can’t say I blame them.
“No,” Chad says. “How can I die? I’m in Freeport. Just setting up to sell some gear while I’m AFK.”
“Well, I don’t know,” Kim says. “Weren’t there werewolves in Freeport or something at Halloween?”
“I’m not dying. It’s Seth,” Chad says. “He’s not coming.”
“He’s not?” My heart sinks.
“He’s sick,” Chad says. “Wants to reschedule though.”
Kim and I go out to China Garden. Egg drop soup and chicken wings. My treat. Chad stays behind to group with Seth. They’re killing kobolds or something.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
When Seth and I do finally meet, we hit it off. It shocks everyone, including us.
He’s confident. Maybe a little full of himself. But he seems to believe what he says. And I like that. I can’t remember the last time I was sure of anything.
I quickly run into the same problems that Kim has with Chad. On our third date, we’re supposed to go out to dinner together. Instead, I spend 4 hours lying on his bed while his Plane of Hate raid goes into extended overtime.
“Who’s that cool-looking guy in the black robe?” I ask.
“Oh that’s a dark elf.”
When it’s over, it’s too late to go out for dinner, so he cooks me pasta. And we make out. They’re both pretty good.
Kim laughs when she finds out that I’ve started playing EverQuest.
“You will do anything to get laid,” she exclaims.
I laugh. “Guilty.”
Kim and Chad break up.
I start raiding. A bottle of Arbor Mist is wedged between my thighs. It’s empty by the time we’re done with the Plane of Growth.
Learning to Share Helps All Relationships, Not Just Polyamorous Ones
“You’re poly?” I’m sometimes asked, “I could never share my partner.”
But the funny thing is? Even if you’re monogamous, you do share your partner. Especially their time and attention.
With everyone they know and interact with.
With their hobbies and interests.
As I wrote in Homing Pigeon Primary, letting someone you love be free isn’t about abandoning them. It’s about not restricting the choices in their life. Even when those choices lead away from you.
While this could be about your partner having another romantic relationship, it doesn’t have to be.
Maybe you live apart because they’re pursuing grad school or their dream job on another coast.
Maybe you don’t like that they look at porn.
Or maybe you don’t like how much time they spend playing online games. Because it’s not something you like to do. And don’t see the point.
It doesn’t always have to be a person that you’re sharing your lover with.
And it’s up to you to decide whether you want to treat it like a mistress or a metamour.