There are two men in my life, which is to say I am in the lives of two men. They are not, you understand, in each other's lives, any more than are two friends who sometimes share a meal or coworkers from different departments who meet to discuss shared timelines and plans. I make a lot of lists (of nights to spend here, there; of people who can't find out). Sometimes there are memos. It's what people in the polyamory scene call a 'vee', if you're into jargon.
On rare occasions, I am compelled to explain my lifestyle to a suitor or a friend. My explanation is always vague, restrictive: 'nontraditional', 'unexclusive'. The positive experience is harder to express. The polarity of real magnets is more complicated than north versus south — I am the fixed mark between two concentrated lines of force.
But poetry like that is cheap and it's easier to just talk about their differences, to say these are two men, both of whom I know. A. is tall and soft, his eyes a corporate blue; B. shares my size and slant, small-framed and sharp. The one presides in cashmere, windsor-knotted; the other pronounces noise rock obscurantism by the indiscernible syllables of his Japanese band Ts. Some time, too, sets them apart — alphabetized in order of appearance, A. and I started dating a year before I first met B. Our relationship was very open, but I can't say another serious partner was something I actively sought or even anticipated.
What might I signify in this configuration? Not, I hope, a shared meal, a halved wife. Affecting to be magisterially imperturbed, I negotiate the possibility and impossibility of the house I've built. I think of the modernists, or even the Oulipo workshop, those circles where self-imposed difficulty had a positive value. Like the ethical oiler, sustainability is a concern of mine.
"What about when I want to have children?"
He turns from his work and hmms. "How about I take the girls and he can have the boys?"
Which brings me to the question everyone asks: is our relationship, in some sense, unfair? I think not. A. keeps his own strange company when he isn't with me, mostly anonymous couplings in bathhouses and restrooms — a market of sexual exchange that, in its maleness, is beyond my purview. When he tells me about his encounters, I'm fascinated by their total alterity from my own experiences. B. is another story and for now is mine alone, which seems to suit him best. I've never met someone so goodlooking with so little interest in the love game; he was calling himself asexual when we first met and, if I hadn't pulled him onto me one night in an act of drunken spontaneity, I think he'd still be using that word. Needless to say, B. doesn't mind evenings alone and our arrangement meets his needs.
If the territory we three are scouting is strange, it is also very pleasant. We watched a film together yesterday, my head on A.'s shoulder, my feet in B.'s lap. Most of the time, we don't worry much about the future, paying more attention to, say, what wine to share with dinner or what recipe to use for the white-sauce. Each of us is happy and everyone sleeps well. In any locus amoenus, tomorrows are intangible.