No post in a while, thanks to an ice storm on Saturday night that knocked out our power all day Sunday. A friend knocked on my door Sunday morning telling me that help was needed down in the dairy barn to hand milk the cows. Yup, even in an ice storm, the cows still need to be milked! So about 10 of us trudged down to the barn to stand 2 to a cow (2 teats per person) and put our otherwise-unused tricep (?) muscles to work. We were without power for 8 days back in September when Hurricane Isabel blew through, so we had mostly gotten the hang of milking by hand then. The day we first started, though… seasoned dairy farmers would have had a good laugh.

after milking, I sloshed my way through the ice and snow half a mile up to our warehouse, where there was a huge shipping party going on. Somehow there was actually electricity up at Emerald City (the name of our warehouse, because it’s a giant green building at the end of a relatively long hike), even though the rest of the community was blacked out. There was music and food and lots of singing and dancing while stacking hammocks onto pallettes. The final bundle of hammocks was boxed around 1:00, and ten minutes later the power went out in the warehouse.

A bunch of us sat around in the semi-darkness (just light light through the window from the reflection on the snow) and told jokes and ate the sushi that had been made for the party (you know it’s a special occasion at Twin Oaks when someone’s made sushi!) Then Pax and I made our way back down to the rest of the community to spend some quality time together before I had to return to the dairy barn for the afternoon milking. But first he had to stop by the community center, because one of his other lovers had told him she wrote him a letter. He said that he could see in her face that it was an important one. So he went to get the letter, and I said I’d meet him in my room. When he came in, I was already wrapped under the covers in an attempt to warm my frozen toes, and he undressed and climbed in with me.

“How was the letter?” I asked. And he said that she was in a pretty rough place. They’ve been struggling for months; this was not new. I asked if he felt like he should go find her, and he said no. So we laid there and talked for awhile, but I couldn’t get her off my mind.

CONTEXT: There was another time back in October when he had a date with her that had an undetermined starting time, and he and I were spending some time together before their date. I asked him when he was meeting with her, and he said they hadn’t agreed on a time, so he’d spend a couple hours with me, then go to be with her. I asked him to call up to her building to set a clear time, he tried, no answer. He tried again a while later, and left a message for her. Which she never got. And when she came looking for him and stopped by my building and heard us making love in my room she got pissed. This was a lesson for me that if it seems to me like my lover has responsibilities to another lover — even if my lover says it’s not true — I should trust my instincts and push them towards that responsibility.

So this time it seemed obvious that he should seek her out. She wrote him a letter, then went to find him to TELL him that she had written a letter. What does that say? It says she’s reaching out to him. And him reaching back indicates that the relationship is important to him. So this time, instead of asking “should you go find her?”, I said “I think you should go find her.” And I told him my analysis of her reaching out to him, and he agreed that that was the best thing to do. And he went to go find her, leaving me to read the latest CrimeThinc book (my current obsession!) alone in my room.

This experience really helped me feel the importance of nurturing something greater than my immediate interests. Our relationship (Pax and me) is in a really solid, stable, exciting, passionate, connected (I could go on…) place right now. We didn’t need that time together in order to honor or respect our relationship. He and this other partner did. It seems very clear, but in the “take care of Me” culture of mainstream society, it seems ludicrous for me to push a lover out of bed so that he could go be with someone else. I really understand this now… more than I have in over a year of doing this whole open relationship thing. We can’t just make decisions based on what’s best for me and my lover, just between us. Because Life isn’t just between us. Life extends to include everything that we touch, everyone else who our relationship impacts. And recognizing the truth of that has to affect how we make decisions, or it doesn’t work. That’s where jelousy and envy and bitterness come in.

It’s late, and I’m tomorrow’s milker. I’ve got to be down in the barn in 6 hours, so I’m going to sleep now. Goodnight from Virginia.