My doctor moved to New Zealand in January. She was full of apologies, but I didn’t judge her for leaving. I just felt jealous. We were ten months into quarantine, there was still only vague news of a vaccine, and the weight of the year was equaled only by the moment-to-moment solitude. Imagine an island where everything was normal! Imagine an island where I could fuck people other than my roommates.
At this point, it had happened once. It would only happen once more. The first time was fun for its chaos and intimacy. The second time just made me feel sad. I didn’t want to be a tourist in my friends’ relationship. I wanted a relationship of my own. I wanted relationships of my own. The point of fucking a couple is being able to leave. And I couldn’t leave.
My roommates, like all my friends, had spent the year marveling at my commitment to dating. Most people had shacked up with their best option, committed to their time alone, or tried the occasional attempt with even less occasional enthusiasm. But not me. The past year I have dated with the same fervor and curiosity as I did before the pandemic. Any friend starved for gossip could send me a voice memo and I’d have a story ready. They weren’t nights out at clubs or even hook ups — mostly — but I gave my writer brain just enough material to provide some entertainment.
“I’ve been so good,” I told my new doctor. “I’ve taken zero risks during the pandemic — well, zero Covid risks.” She laughed. Probably because I’d just disclosed the whole fucking my roommates thing. But of all my questionable romantic behavior the past year, that doesn’t even rank. It’s overwhelming to think of all the people I never met. All the feelings that I had that just as quickly went away. It’s overwhelming to think of the one person I did meet, but never really knew. Or the person I know so well, but not in the ways I expected.
I collect connections like a frat boy collects conquests. A crush can become so many things — a friend, a partner, a memory. I’m not invested in outcome. I’m just invested in people. And stories — as they are, not as I want them to be. I could write about how all my experiences during the pandemic, all my self-reflection and quarantined chaos, led me to the person currently at the front of my mind. But that would make her a conclusion, when my hope is that she’s a beginning. That I’m a beginning. That we’re always beginning.
By the time this essay is published I might be on a plane to Toronto fulfilling one of the great queer woman clichés. Or maybe my assumption of that possibility will seem hilarious — or devastating. To me polyamory isn’t about being with a lot of people at once. It’s about letting myself be with every person however we’re meant to be. Am I excited for the backdrops of my stories to vary? To have more sex? To meet people in real life? To fuck a couple and leave? To fly to a new place and stay? Of course. But do I think my emotional behavior is going to be changed by my second vaccine? Unlikely.
When the pandemic began I was living in a different house with different roommates. All four of those people were in relationships. And in those early months, package after package arrived at our door — always for one of them, never for me. “I never get any packages,” I whined to one of my roommates. “You have to buy stuff online,” they chuckled. “I get packages because I buy stuff online.”
If I’ve learned anything the past year, it’s an acceptance of that simple truth. You get what you order. And what I’ve ordered for my life is curiosity over comfort, authenticity over ease. My Venus is in Sag and this is just who I am. It’s silly to envy people who can move to New Zealand. There’s so much excitement to be had right here.