Once upon a time, I read a Chinese fable about a woman who weaves brocades with such skill, the fabric transcends into reality. Her blood becomes the red sun. She weaves as if she is creating life.
I have my own story I want to weave into my tapestry. A story I live by. The story I live by.
Or the one I live by now. Before, I only knew the one story. You must know it. It’s the story you lived and breathed growing up. Or choked on, as I did. Or maybe your parents protected you from it, but eventually you learned it if you lived around other people.
It’s a powerful story. The one you and I grew up with, I mean. How many enamored lovebirds patiently dream about this story in every waking, every sleeping moment? Hoping to claim it for their own. It’s a cup of tea that’s steeped for centuries, bitter in its own strength. A tale as old as time. Where did it come from? Somewhere long before. Since the first fairytale. Since Adam and Eve. Woman completes man. Man completes woman. And together they build a life. Is that the first fairytale?
The story of how to find happiness. Boy meets Girl. Girl Dates Boy. Boy Falls in Love with Girl. Girl Marries Boy. Boy and Girl Live Happily Ever After. The details vary, but it follows the basic plot line.
I believed this story as a child, or maybe I didn’t. I don’t remember, because the story never mattered much to me. I didn’t care about romance as a child, no kindergarten boyfriend for me. I think I might have played house with dolls at some point. Probably a play wife and husband. Certainly, I didn’t have a play wife. I didn’t know any lesbians or any queer women. I had yet to learn that variation on the story. But by middle school, I don’t ever remember dreaming of my wedding dress or what flowers I wanted.
But I did dream of the future. What little girl doesn’t want to grow up to be happy? What little girl doesn’t want to find love? I thought because I didn’t fit into the story, I didn’t want love, but it wasn’t true—
—but I didn’t find that out until much later. For the most part, I simply ignored the story. I wasn’t really sure I believed in a happily ever after. I certainly wasn’t so sure about the in between parts of the story. I grew up, and I didn’t care about dating. I didn’t share a first kiss until seventeen. I didn’t have a boyfriend until college— and I still didn’t want marriage or a white picket fence with them.
I kinda stumbled about, dating, shying around questions of love and marriage. Of wanting kids or not wanting kids. “I’m too young to think about it,” became my go to excuse. I kinda went along with the traditional narrative. I would tell my parents when I got into a relationship that was “serious.” They never were, but whatever, I had a boyfriend and that’s the first step, yeah?
I decided I wasn’t cut out for the whole dating scene. I broke it off with my then boyfriend. By twenty five, I decided I didn’t need anyone, save myself. All I wanted was to figure myself out, what I wanted, now and for the indeterminate future. I got tired of wandering, even though I appreciated my travels. But I wanted some security, some…thing. I didn’t know— maybe a job, a career? A purpose? How melodramatic. I wanted to feel that I mattered. Or at least a home base. One where I didn’t move every year. Maybe every two years? A step at a time.
The story, mischievous little beast, kept inching its way into my conscious. I ignored it, but it grew a bit more difficult. The closer I approached my ticking biological clock, the more advertisers, friends, and family asked me questions. Not just me, they did it to everyone.
Felt like if you didn’t get settled by thirty, without “settling down,” you got judged. The closer I got to thirty, the more I felt it. I am settling down, I responded, irritated. I’m finding a career. Isn’t that what every responsible adult needs? Stop hassling me about my love life. Unless you want the truth which is probably, “I put on makeup, walked to a bar, and sought out a decent one night stand.” Of course I didn’t say that.
You know the part of the romantic comedy where the woman asks, “What do I want? What does everyone want? To get married.”? I hated that. I wanted to put myself in the movie and inform her, “No. Not everyone wants that. YOU want that. Stop making what you want the same thing everyone wants.” That is not the way— the only way— to achieve happiness. That is not the only way to avoid being alone, sad, and miserable— and, anyway, what if I want to be sad and alone? Or at least alone. (Okay, I don’t, but someone else might.)
Even Facebook started not so subtly pushing me to attract the man (never the woman) of my dreams. Be prettier, be sexier. Join this dating site. Find a guy. Any guy, I guess. Everyone carelessly congratulated any marriage announcement, even if all the friends knew the marriage happened as a result of an affair or they thought the guy was a loser (they’d just gossip behind the friend’s back and tell her how happy they were for her). Maybe the marriage would change him, or both of them.
Me? I just wanted to be Single, or so I thought. I got confusion or pity in response, nobody really wants to be Single. Defensively, some articles might retort, “Being Single Is Okay!” But let’s be honest, that isn’t really something you’re supposed to hold as a mark of pride.
Look, I’ve got no issue if you swoon over Love, Actually. If love triangles excite you. But it’s not perfect. It needs tweaking. The ridiculous of the love story reaches levels of absurdity to the point of toxicity. And if you aren’t straight, cisgender, monogamous, and vanilla, then you basically get told you can’t find happiness and be who you are. You’ll simply have to settle on being independent and unhappy. Should’ve made better choices.
Even if you are vanilla or monogamous or something else mainstream, that doesn’t mean you fit in. Perhaps you are one of those who sits quietly at the girls’ nights out at the wine bar. You’re the one wondering why you feel uncomfortable. Staying quiet when you disagree with someone complaining how desperately she wants to get married, but guys just hate commitment— and you feel the same way, right?
You’re the one who wishes you all could keep talking about 50 Shades and how it didn’t seem that big a deal, because whose husband doesn’t like to spank and tie up their wife, but you’re embarrassed to admit it (note from me: 50 Shades is undeniably awful and an unforgivable representation of BDSM, if you want to know why, ask me, but maybe it awakened a curiosity in you?).
The funny thing, it turned out, I did want everything that people wanted. Mostly. I related instinctively to Freddie Mercury’s words to Mary (at least in the movie). “What do you want [from me]?” “Almost everything.” The funny thing is as soon as I stopped playing into the game altogether; as soon as I stopped dating and insisted on the next several partners I found, “I don’t want anything serious. I just want this to be fun,; as soon as I put my boots down, at near that precise moment in time, I took the first actual step to getting everything that everyone had ever told me I should want.
The funniest thing is, with this new story, I’ve found almost everything. I snowballed wildly, picking up all the bits and pieces that make up happiness (according to common wisdom). I found love. I found a partner. I found someone to come home to at night. I found someone to curl up with and giggle over girl chat, I found someone to share hobbies with, I found some to confide in, I found someone to help build me into the best person I can be, I found— I found almost everything, by the age of thirty, and I’m still finding more that I never even knew I wanted. That I barely knew existed.
Of course it came with a catch. Turns out those “someones” weren’t only one person. And nary a one involved marriage or a solitary white picket fence. I shrugged. I’d found all the puzzle pieces, who cared if I put them together using the right method? I didn’t. Okay, I did a little, when I still cared what people thought of me.
I tell my Story from the perspective of a bisexual, kinky, polyamorous Kitty. A path I’ve chosen, because it is what I want, not what someone wants for me. I believe it is okay to be selfish, when it means being the one to say what makes you happy. My happiness does not affect anyone else’s, nor does yours affect theirs. These are my adventures, my philosophies, my thoughts on love, life, and relationships. I experimented with other relationship styles, and I settled on what suits me.
I hope you find the same love story for yourself. Maybe it sounds cheesy. But it made me happy. Perhaps it can do the same for you.
Au revoir, my readers!