This past week was my (Mimi's) spring break. Marc and I usually travel over my breaks, but we both had pressing work responsibilities, so we decided to have a stay-cation in New Orleans instead of heading out of town. As would be the case if we were traveling, we informed our lovers that this would be “our” time and though not completely unavailable, a bit off the grid.
The week started last Saturday with Marc shooting the Make It Right Gala. I was his assistant for the gig so we were able to share the experience together and I got to meet Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Drew Brees. (Jumping up and down clapping my hands like a kid on her birthday)
Though work took over during the day Mon-Wed, come Thursday, we both put work aside and became tourists in our own city.
We went to new and favorite restaurants-sushi at Saki Café, Steaks at Dickey Brennan’s, brunch at Stanley, and yummy cocktails at Sylvain. We took in lots of live music, like Bonerama at Tips, Lagniappe Brass Band at Mojito’s where Marc sat in on drums and we met a gorgeous woman from Oregon, and the Stooges at the Hi Ho Lounge where we ran into old friends and made some new ones. We strolled around the French Quarter shopping and people watching. We stayed up ‘til the wee hours of the morning smoking, giggling, and philosophizing while we listened to records or watched our favorite movies like Tootsie, Fargo, and Ocean’s Eleven (and said the lines together like our own version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show). We slept in, went on bike rides, and walked the dogs together.
At one point, we were returning home from a bike ride on the Lake Shore. We had stopped at a red light at Carrollton and Esplanade. I rode my bike up to Marc’s side and, as I did, I spanked his spandex-clad butt. When I came to a stop, he leaned over and kissed me on the lips. I looked toward the folks waiting for the streetcar and noticed a heterosexual couple in their mid-forties watching us. They were smiling and holding hands. The man put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her around to kiss her on the lips. They gazed into each other’s eyes and completely forgot about us. I assumed they were tourists and enjoying their concentrated time together, just as Marc and I were. Then I remembered that we’re home, and though a bit more focused on our "alone" time this past week, this is our life.
It was unusual for us not to get away for Mimi’s Spring Break…hasn’t happened since we met in 2000, but it was really great to connect with her right here in our own city. Things have been very crazy with work (I just received the contract for my new photography book, and got the big Make it Right shoot with Brad and Angelina, Snoop Doog, Kanye West, Rihanna, Ellen DeGeneres, Seal, Sheryl Crowe, etc.), so it was nice to be able to put that aside for a few days and play tourist in our own city. We’ve also been dealing with issues that arise from negotiating the open relationship, so again, it was nice to set THAT aside and focus on each other.
I think it’s important to have a mini or full blown moratorium on other lovers at times, in order to build and maintain our solid relationship, and inspire confidence that we are indeed each other’s main priority. I am reminded on a daily basis of why I’m with Mimi – her intelligence, sexiness, hilarity, gorgeousness, her smile, her…well, you know, but it’s important that we still make lots of time for each other. It’s important that we go on real DATES where we get dressed up for each other as we would for a date with a lover. So yeah, having a stay-cation was just what the doctor ordered. To quote Ferris Bueller, “if you have the means, I highly recommend it”.
Though it’s a cultivation of something known rather than exploration, it makes me giddy and horny just the same. It's something like "known relationship energy" rather than "new relationship energy". We are best friends, primary partners, and hot for each other.
Like every relationship (monogamous, open, polyamorous), it is important to make time for building and maintaining bonds. I have been in monogamous, open, and now a polyamorous relationship. It is my experience that Marc and I are more conscientious about setting time aside for just us precisely because we are open and polyamorous. We don’t have children, but I have to assume it is the same for people with kids. When there are other people in the picture, it’s easy to get lost in the “negotiations” or, perhaps even more problematic, “new relationship energy”.
"New relationship energy" refers to the intensity of sexual attraction and giddiness that comes with a new lover. It can feel intoxicating, and that euphoria can be distracting. I’ve often said there should be “New Lover” leave time built into employment. I think this is especially true in an open or polyamorous relationship. Not so much so you can spend all day in bed with the new lover, but so you have time to spend all day in bed with your primary partner!
The stay-cation with Marc was just what the doctor ordered. We had both been working hard in our jobs and in terms of negotiating our relationship. Taking time off allowed us to really focus on each other, not just for an evening or a day (which is something we do all the time), but for an extended period of time.
Marc and I are not just primary partners, we’re best friends. I like nothing more than “pal’n around" with him. When we were walking around the French Quarter, or sitting in restaurant undistracted by work or by our lovers, or chowin’ down on frozen pizza at 3am, I appreciated why Marc is and always will be my primary. It’s that remembering and appreciation that is so key to a successful relationship, but especially an open or polyamorous one.
When I slapped Marc’s butt and he kissed me, I remember thinking that the people in the cars around us probably thought we were new lovers. There is no way anyone would have looked at that interaction and thought to themselves, “Aw, look at the cute couple eleven years into a long term monogamous relationship.” It just wouldn’t be the first assumption. There’s a reason for that. When Marc and I focus on each other, it is kind of like having that “New Relationship” energy together despite having been together for eleven years. Perhaps we’d be like that even if we were monogamous, but I know that, in our case, the remembering and appreciation for each other is something we’ve built in precisely because we are open and polyamorous. There is something so wonderful about knowing each other so well, liking each other so much, but at the same time, not taking each other for granted.
I have this feeling a lot with Marc. We often joke about how, when we’re on an airplane or doing something touristy, people probably think we’re on our honeymoon. “Yeah,” we say to each other. “Another awesome honeymoon without the pesky annoyance of planning and paying for a wedding.”