I was excited yesterday morning to pack up and get ready for the Sparkly Festival of Awesomeness, but I was also grumpy and space-issuey—even the shower curtain brushing up against my legs seemed invasive. I was thinking it might be better to stay home and rest and write, maybe even grade papers. I wanted some time to myself.
But I also knew it was time to start reaching out, and I was curious about whether I’d even be interested in a naked-outside adventure now that the Big Therapy Project had been completed. When I arrived, I immediately felt disincluded—the man at the gate couldn’t find my name on the list, and neither could the lady at registration, at first. Still, I was glad to be there and excited to see my friends.
I found Mr. and Ms. Sweetheart right away. Their tent was in the same place it was in last year, where I’d had all the fun with Mr. Sweetheart and Mr. Shiny Eyes. This time, all the front tent flaps were open and it had the feel of a veranda, a porch full of inflatable beds.
I got naked and fell easily in with them on their bed. I was warm from the gorgeous day and from the adrenaline and had lots of lovely snuggles and sexytimes in front of everyone, but Mr. Sweetheart got impatient with me for wanting to stop and put on sunscreen—he deemed it shady enough. After snuggles they were going to a workshop and he was getting annoyed with me for making them late, and I wasn’t okay with that. I wanted to go enjoy the woods anyway.
I felt post-coital tired and cranky as I set off on my own. I started out naked but kept adding more clothes as I went. My spray-on sunscreen wouldn’t work and everything all of a sudden felt sore. I added a skirt and then a bra, but still sure did like the sun on my skin. I found and walked the labyrinth where I’d had such a meaningful experience last year, then went to explore the pond. It was teeming with tadpoles, a fuck you to anything that would interfere with the flourishing of life. I found this vindicating, since the pond where I used to watch tadpoles as a child has fallen prey to frackers. It felt like the frogs were still winning.
I saw a tiny turtle and got very, very sad that Sweetie wasn’t there to see it with me.
I tried to have some self-adventures in the woods, that had long been a fantasy of mine, but my body felt raw and disconnected, guarded against touch, even my own. I started to realize that no matter how pretty the scenery, no matter how much everyone else was having fun, I didn’t belong here, maybe never would.
On the way back from the pond, who should I see but that harbinger of go-home-already, Steampunk Girl. She was, as always, perfectly at home, being chatted up by a guy who looked exactly like a young Weird Al Yankovic. She was directly in my path and I thought I should go talk to her, say my sorries and get in over with, but everything inside me finished shutting down and I found a way to get past them without being seen.
I found some nice grass to lie down in, looked up at the perfect cartoon clouds and thought about the Steampunks, who were probably here together and fitting in perfectly the way they always do, like I never would. I don’t know why I still feel so much pain about them, but there is. I’m still broken about them no matter how much progress I’ve made otherwise.
I started to sob and a couple of strangers came over to talk to me, but I couldn’t articulate it to strangers, I needed a real friend.
I spotted the Recurring Character and his wife sitting in lawn chairs and watching a nice couple fuck in the next tent over. I asked if I could just sit by them, but they got closed and guarded and he said “We’re having an alone moment right now.”
I think that was the moment that I clocked out of polyamory, or whatever community this was. The way they used boundaries as an excuse to ignore the real need of a hurting human being, this has been the essence of heartbreak after heartbreak for these past few years. It certainly wasn’t friendship. Like a child, I sobbed away across the field, in front of everyone, maybe even in front of Steampunks.
I eventually found the Sweethearts leaving their workshop, hugged them and told them what happened with Steampunk Girl. I lay down on the bed for a few minutes and when I closed my eyes, they were gone again. There was nothing and no one here for me, not even myself since I felt so disconnected.
I tried to get a cup of coffee in hopes that that would make me feel better, but even THAT felt exclusive—you had to be a member of the Coffee Club. Never has the universe been so unsubtle at telling me to get the heck out of someplace.
I headed home sad and wondering what hobbies would replace unicorning and nudity, if I’d ever find a place to belong. (Where does one go to meet monogamous available people, anyway?) I stopped at Gold Star Wing Girl’s house on the way home, and talking to her confirmed what I already sort of knew: My adventures of the past few years helped me to separate from Sweetie and successfully tackle the Big Therapy Project, and now that that’s done, they just don’t have the same meaning. Being a naked peripheral character feels bad because it’s already in the past and going backwards always hurts.
I hung onto the Sweethearts the longest probably because they’re the nicest, but it’s time to cop to the thing I said out loud to Sweetie in the ocean last summer—I didn’t say I wanted an FWB or a play partner or a couple. I said I wanted a husband. And because, unlikely as he is for giving such an insight, Steampunk Guy was the one who helped me realize it, maybe they’ll always be there to show me when I’m off track.
It’s lonely not belonging, but I can only refocus on ways to keep belonging with myself and hope the rest works out somehow.