Posts Tagged With: Personal

Almond Milk (and Banana Pancakes)

Turns out that finding enough time for blogging during the schoolyear is a lot harder than during the summer. Who knew, right?

Anyway. The past month has been filled with a lot of personal achievements for me, but one of the most surprisingly easy was almond milk. Wait, you must be saying, what? Almond milk isn’t a personal achievement! No, but it is. For years now, I have been looking to entirely eliminate dairy from my diet, and I think, finally, I have.

A little backstory. I have been vegetarian since before I was born. Everyone in my family is vegetarian. I was raised without the option of eating meat, and I have never had the desire to take it up. People ask me if I feel angry at my parents for “depriving” me of the “choice” by raising me veggie. I’m not quite sure they understand. Growing up veggie, I tell them, didn’t deprive me of anything, except perhaps the air of self-satisfaction that comes with rebellion against the norms of one’s childhood. I think of eating meat as like getting tattooed: If an independent and informed adult decides to do it, well, that’s one thing, but parents have no business tattooing their children, or feeding them meat, before the child can decide for him- or herself.

But, of course, there is one respect in which eating meat is not like getting a tattoo: it is not a purely self-regarding action. If you’re eating meat, then there is an individual person—not a human person, perhaps, but a person nonetheless, with a conscious mind—who had to die to provide you with that meat. For me, it isn’t the eating, per se, that’s the problem: it’s the killing, and the infliction of pain that precedes it. This applies to both humans and nonhumans. If, upon my death, you were to eat my body, I would have no moral problem with that (though you might have a digestive problem with it). However, if you were to walk into my room and torture me to death, I would have a moral objection to that regardless of what happened to my body afterwards. I don’t care how hungry you might be, that would not be acceptable behavior.

The problem, though, for a vegetarian like myself, is that a whole slew of “animal product” foods, though they don’t intrinsically require cruelty and murder, are only available (to those of us living in cities, at any rate) through systems which do intrinsically require these moral atrocities. I have personally milked a cow on a small farm in the middle of nowhere, and while I doubt that I would enjoy the experience if I were a cow, I’m not sure the milking itself qualifies as cruelty. But  the milk available to me here in New York City is going to be, for the most part, coming from factory farms, from the kind of places Isaac Bashevis Singer was talking about when he wrote that “in relation to animals, all people are Nazis; for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka.” And I can’t stand the thought of supporting those places, however indirectly.

Eliminating dairy has been easier for me than for most, I think. I never drank milk or ate cheese in the first place; I’ve always hated them. Ice cream…well, I needed to eliminate that from my diet anyway, dairy or no. So that basically left me with yogurt (which I ate a lot when I was younger, and since then have only really eaten as a way of weaning myself off ice cream) and foods with dairy ingredients. Since I live in a residence hall without a kitchen, eating my food from the communal dining hall, this hasn’t really been an issue, but once I am living elsewhere, and cooking my own food, it could be. In particular, I was worried about the breakfast foods: cereal (a staple of mine growing up) and pancakes (which I would have eaten every single day of my childhood, had it been up to me).

At the beginning of this month, I discovered banana pancakes. Caroliena, from Polyprotic Amory, was the one who taught me how to make them. They are virtually identical to “normal” pancakes, but the butter is replaced with bananas, which holds the batter together in much the same way. It’s also healthier, tastier, and, most importantly, dairy-free.

I was surprised by how easy it was to just strike the offending ingredients from the recipe. Banana pancakes have quickly become one of my favorite foods. But even after this, it came as a shock to me when I tried eating a bowl of cereal with almond milk.

At first, I thought it didn’t taste any different. After a couple of bowls, though, I started to realize that I preferred the taste of almond milk to dairy milk. If only I had known about it a decade and a half ago! I could have been eating much tastier cereal all these years! In fact, if I had been given this milk growing up, maybe I would actually have liked drinking milk, rather than finding it repulsive. It gets better, too: whereas something like soy milk requires quite a bit of processing apparatus to create, making almond milk takes nothing more complex than a bowl of water and some form of strainer. This is the kind of thing you could make without using anything more technologically advanced than pottery! Almond milk is amazing. I am never ever ever going back. And that means, finally, I am entirely dairy-free!

Once you start looking for alternatives to what you’ve been doing all your life, it’s amazing how quickly you can find something better.

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Daily Prompt: Fifteen Credits

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Another school semester will soon begin. If you’re in school, are you looking forward to starting classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?”

I can’t wait for classes to start.

I’m serious. This is my final year of undergrad, and I’ve already finished the actual coursework for both my majors, so the only “serious” academic stuff I’m doing this year is thesis work. Now, granted, I’m writing two honors thesis projects, so that’s kind of a lot, but still, it’s only two classes per semester. I actually had to go searching for random irrelevant classes to put in my schedule just so that I would have enough credits to stay in university housing (which is kind of necessary for my job as a Resident Assistant).

Typically, I’m not the kind of guy who takes random classes for the hell of it, which is how I finished two majors in three years. A semester is a long time, and that is a big commitment! Yes, I know there are websites like RateMyProfesssor and all that so that you can get an idea of what you are getting into, and I know you can find folks who have taken the class before, too, but…I don’t think you can ever really know for sure what a class will be like for you until a few weeks after the semester starts. At which point, of course, it’s probably too late to drop it if you hate it, and certainly too late to get in to anything meaningfully better to replace it. As a result, I’m very selective about what I take. Or, at least, I have been so far.

This year, however, I have a new plan. Not only am I filling out my schedule with irrelevant coursework and music lessons, but I’m taking the search for random, useless classes to the next level: I want to sit in on a single session of a different random class every week this year. I have a lot of unclaimed time in my schedule right now, and while almost all of it will go towards additional thesis work, that’s not incompatible with this plan. After all, if the class isn’t interesting, I can just work on my thesis stuff to pass the time while I wait for it to end. (Having been born in Oxford, and as the son of two professors of English, I obviously can’t just leave.) But on those days when I stumble across a class that I do find interesting, it will be like a breath of fresh air, broadening my horizons in all sorts of unexpected ways.  Who knows? I may discover a previously latent passion and find myself completely transfigured by the experience.

I am so grateful that I was able to come to my top choice  university, and I have intensely loved the education I’ve had so far here. I knew what I wanted to study, and I came here ready to do precisely that. However, looking back, I think that a couple of totally random, irrelevant, and useless classes would have done me a lot of good. I have a tendency towards extremes, and while I’m very much a “big picture” kind of guy, once I get really focused on something, I do not stop. There is a danger that I will lose all sense of perspective in my quest to understand my new obsession “all the way down.” But a steady, regular dose of uncontrollable randomness is a superb antidote to fanaticism.

And, of course, I live and work with first-year college students. Even if I were heading into a dreary year of utterly predictable and entirely uninteresting coursework, it’s pretty hard to surround yourself with hundreds of incoming freshmen and not get excited about the start of term. Because if you think I’m way too happy about school starting up again…just imagine how they feel.

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Daily Prompt: Pat on the Back

Woo! I did it! Successfully completed my Blog Every Day in July challenge. Sweet!

I’m pretty excited about that, and proud of myself for getting it done, but that’s not what this post is about. Because today, the Daily Prompt is to “tell someone you’re proud of just how proud you are.” So instead of spending this post selfishly congratulating myself for actually making consistent use of my blog (finally), I want to congratulate someone else who deserves it a lot more: Caroliena Cabada from Polyprotic Amory. Caroliena created her blog around the same time I created mine: November of 2012. However, unlike me, she started posting regularly right away. After my first couple of posts around the end of November/beginning of December, I didn’t post again for another two months. And after that random post in the middle of February, I didn’t post again until…well, until I started this blog-every-day challenge, one month ago.

And guess who inspired me to blog every day? Caroliena. In fact, she didn’t just “inspire” me in some kind of nebulous, wishy-washy tangential way: she straight-up challenged me to actually use my blog, to blog every day in July alongside her. When I would hesitate, she would prod me forward, and before I knew it I was writing a post every day. She provided the impetus for me to sit down and do it. She would often give me prompts and advice and suggestions, but even when she didn’t, just seeing how successful she has been at maintaining her blog for the better part of the past year galvanized me to work harder, smarter, and more on my own. Caroliena wasn’t just helpful, she was an exemplar. From the time we created our blogs until the end of June, I wrote a grand total of three measly posts. She wrote one hundred forty-one.

Because, see, that’s the kind of person Caroliena is. Not just with WordPress; with everything. I remember staying up late talking with her about why I’m vegetarian (which will probably be the subject of quite a few of my posts in the future), back when she herself was still a carnivore. Next thing I knew, she was going vegan. Caroliena is the kind of person who really listens, better than almost anyone I know. What makes her a good listener is that she doesn’t just listen; she listens, carefully and thoughtfully, and then acts on what she learns. She really takes things to heart. Back when we both still used Facebook, I would go on and on about how fucked up that corporation’s business model is. I would disparage it nonstop. But I still used it. She was the one to delete hers first; even though I was the one who had suggested the idea, I found myself following her example, not the other way around. That’s how she rolls. And it’s been the same with WordPress: when I was considering setting up a blog, almost a year ago now, I told her about it. She had never heard of it before, but no sooner had I told her about it than she made a WordPress account of her own. She beat me to it, because she took everything I knew in theory and put it into practice.

Caroliena never ceases to amaze me. She is continually outdoing herself, and outdoing even the people she looks up to. Where she looks at someone and thinks how much she can learn from them, she herself ends up teaching them just as much as they teach her. It’s not often that you find yourself looking up to someone who also looks up to you, but I look up to Caroliena more and more every day. Everything she learns, she takes to a whole new level, to the point that even when you’re the one who started her off on something, you find yourself following her example. I envy her professors: she is the best learner anyone could ask for. I’m proud of her. And I’m so grateful to her for helping me learn to actually embody the things that we both believe in.

Well done, Caroliena. You rock. For listening, for being you, for always being ready to take it to the next level. I’m proud of you.

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Looking Forward to Visiting Home

In about a week, I will be heading back home to Berkeley, California, to visit my family and friends back home. I can’t wait. I’ve been thinking about the trip a lot lately. Planning what I want to do while I’m home, figuring out what I want to bring with me, that sort of thing, yes, but also thinking about all the things I miss about Berkeley. I’ve loved the time I’ve spent living in New York, but there are some things that I find myself wistfully reminiscing about when I think about going back home. Here are some of the top contenders for “things I miss the most about Berkeley.”

1) Being able to see the sky…. After my first year in New York, I flew home to the San Francisco airport, fortunately avoiding Asiana airlines. When I first came out of the airport, and was on my way home, I found myself marveling at how much of the sky I could see just by looking out the window of the BART. (BART is short for Bay Area Rapid Transit, for folks who aren’t familiar with it. It’s the subway system for the whole Bay Area, and it costs about ten times as much as the NYC subway; I don’t miss that part.) I felt like I had flown to Montana by accident. Here in Manhattan, in the course of a normal day, you only really see little patches of sky, never the whole sweep from horizon to horizon. You never get the “inverted bowl” effect here. Instead, you’re always just catching glimpses of these fragmented slivers of sky between the skyscrapers. I miss being able to look up and see nothing but sky.

2) …Especially the stars. During the day, since work and classes often keep me indoors a lot of the time, the absence of the sky isn’t quite so bad. But at night, when the city is all lit up, blazing and blaring and bright, you can barely even see a single star. It’s not as though there isn’t light pollution in Berkeley, too, but on a clear night, you can clearly and distinctly see whole constellations, even walking down a brightly lit street. From the hills up above the city, you can look out and see the whole sweep of stars across the sky, It’s not as clear and pure and bright as the view of the Milky Way from Deep Springs (a tiny little self-sufficient college/farm in the middle of nowhere along the California-Nevada border), which is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my entire life, but compared to the featureless blackness above New York, it might as well be.

3) The smell of the sea. Even though Manhattan is technically a lot closer to the sea proper (as opposed to the Bay) than Berkeley is, you’d never know that from the air. In Berkeley, there is pretty much always a sea breeze, and it actually smells like a sea breeze. It’s cool on your face and salty on your tongue. In New York, it’s often windy, but the wind just doesn’t smell like anything. (If you’re lucky.) Of course, the fact that the summers here are so much hotter and wetter doesn’t help; right when you need a refreshing sea breeze, you instead get a blast of garbage-scented wind, as hot and humid as can be.

4) Radical philosophy and politics. New York is way too staid and conservative for me. Yeah, I said it.

5) Random piles of free stuff everywhere. Yes, really. See, people in Berkeley have this thing about leaving stuff at the curb. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. I mean, yes, I’ve seen (and occasionally even claimed) things left on the curbs in New York, and in other places, but Berkeley folks are just on a whole different plane of existence when it comes to free curbside scrounging. You can literally find anything on the curb in Berkeley. Each year, NYU organizes this “Green Apple Move-Out” program where students leave their stuff in big bins to be donated. Anything in the bins is fair game until the bins are taken away for donation, however, so anyone who stays for the summer (e.g. me) can just go down to the basement of their residence hall and find basically anything they could possibly want. In Berkeley, that’s just what walking down the street is like. Every day. Anything and everything that people don’t need or want, they just give away, for free, to random anonymous strangers. Now that’s what you’d call “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,” right?

You can find furniture, clothes, shoes, bags, appliances, lamps, antiques, bicycles, sports equipment, vast collections of books and films…even expensive electronics, from cameras to computers, if the weather is good. (Watch out for anything with a piece of paper taped to it that just says “WORKS,” though. It probably doesn’t.) And, on the flipside, anything of yours that you want to get rid of can simply be left on the curb, no disposal necessary. No matter how useless, broken, gross, or otherwise defective an item might be, it will be gone within an hour. You may not be able to imagine how there could actually be a single person on Earth who would find your item useful, but trust me, that person exists, and they live in Berkeley. One of my father’s colleagues, a longtime Berkeley resident, once joked that in Berkeley, you could leave a dead body by the curb in front of your house…and it would be gone before you got back to your porch. I’ve personally never tried that one, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

So, there you have it. That’s a little tribute to the spirit of Berkeley. There is so much more, of course, but these are some of the most significant things I miss about Berkeley itself. Naturally, I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family, but it isn’t just the individual people I miss, but the place itself. The feel of it. If I could get a full refund on my plane ticket now, and magically have all my family and friends come visit me here in New York instead, I wouldn’t do it. I miss Berkeley itself, and I can’t wait to be headed back there, even if it’s just for a couple weeks before the schoolyear starts up again. Goin’ ‘ome!

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Getting Up Early. Really Early.

I should get up early more often. Maybe not as early as I did today, though.

See, for me, this morning was one of those mornings when you wake up long, long before you planned to, but can’t fall back asleep. To be precise, I woke up at 2:35 in the morning. To put that in context, as though it wasn’t absurd enough already, it is not a rare occurrence for me to stay up past 2:35 AM before going to sleep in the first place. (What can I say; I’m in college.) I had gone to sleep very early last night, but by “very early,” I mean 11:30 PM or so. Now, I don’t care how many folks tell me that the Ubermann sleep cycle is actually a thing; three hours of sleep is significantly less than you need to get in a night. So that wasn’t the best thing that could have happened.

But here’s the thing: despite the fact that I hadn’t planned to wake up that early, despite the fact that I didn’t get nearly enough sleep, I’m really grateful that it worked out that way. Because I’m the kind of person who stays up late, reading or writing or working or thinking, I forget how precious those silent early morning hours can be. Something about the stillness of the sleeping city creates this sense of freedom, as though time has somehow been paused, and you’ve been given this extra little bubble of space and time in which to work on whatever it is you need to do. It’s both a relaxing feeling and a motivating one. This time-out-of-time doesn’t feel as though it really “counts” against your day, so even if you get nothing done, you aren’t losing valuable “actual” time. You’re free to be unproductive. But by the same token, because it feels like you’ve been given this secret extra time that isn’t supposed to be there, you feel inspired to make the most of it.

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call myself a “morning person,” since it did take quite a lot of tea to propel me from “can’t sleep” to “actually awake,” but I feel as though I’ve rediscovered something special that was there all along. Back when I was in high school (I can’t believe I just said that), I would have to get up by 6:00 AM every morning from sophomore year on, because my school district thought it would be a genius idea to make sure that anyone who took Advanced Placement science courses either A) couldn’t participate in any kind of extracurricular activities after school or B) had to start class at 7:25 AM. These AP courses all required an additional lab period, which was only available in the hour before school started or the hour after it ended. Anyway, because I had to get up so early regardless, I found myself getting up earlier and earlier, using the time before school each morning to work on my schoolwork, or get some writing done, or just sit and read. Some of those predawn hours were among the most productive times in my life.

Since starting college, however, I’ve been spoiled by remarkably lucky class timetables, with next to nothing scheduled for any earlier than 9:00 AM. Between that and the natural temptation to stay up late, either alone or with friends, I’ve ended up going to bed later (and waking up a lot later) than I did a few years ago. I bet I probably get a healthier amount of sleep now, on the whole, but sometimes I think I might actually be more productive in the mornings than at night.

So, I’m going to test it out. For the next few weeks, I’m going to make myself go to sleep before 1:00 in the morning, and wake up before 7:00 AM. It will certainly be easier than usual to fall asleep (and stay asleep, hopefully) tonight; I’m exhausted. The waking up is the tricky part, or, at least, it will be tomorrow morning. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll even start blogging in the mornings, rather than at night. Who knows?

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Furniture Rearrangement Therapy

I really like rearranging my room. Not for any purpose, not because the old arrangement was flawed in some way, or even because the new arrangement is any better. Just because. I enjoy every aspect of it, from the actual act of rearranging the furniture to the end result, looking around my “new” room. I just love it. In fact, get this: I even enjoy rearranging everything, seeing how it looks in a different alignment, then putting everything back exactly the way it was before, or perhaps very slightly altered.

I imagine that sounds a little silly. Why go to the trouble of rearranging your room when there’s nothing wrong with the old arrangement? Especially if you’re just going to put everything back the way it was before at the end. Isn’t that a waste of effort? I mean, some of that furniture is heavy. And you know what, that very well might be the case for most people. But I find it calming, and at the same time incredibly psychologically and physically invigorating. When I’m feeling under the weather, either from bodily illness or from dwelling too much all the worst things, I find it both soothing and rejuvenating to rearrange my room. The more radical the rearrangement, the better, whether or not I return the room to its original configuration afterwards.

There are a whole variety of reasons why this works for me, I think, and it’s hard to pick out any one of them as more important than another. However, I’m certain that a significant contributing factor is the simple fact that it requires physical activity, which gets the good old endorphins flowing. and that’s always nice. Especially when I’m feeling less than my best because of what I’ve come to think of as “excessive Palantir-gazing,” or spending too much time reading about how totally screwed up the entire world is right now, just standing up and moving around can help overcome the hopeless, nihilistic lethargy that is an occupational hazard of knowing just how bad things are.

It’s not just the physical activity, however, or I’d feel just as great after doing a whole bunch of situps, which I certainly don’t. I think a big part of it is that I like seeing my actions actually have a tangible effect in the real world. It takes some intellectual effort to conceptualize the difference that, for example, signing a petition can make. Or voting. Or any number of other kinds of infinitesimal contributions to a greater good. And especially for someone with a skeptical frame of mind, constantly questioning everything you’re told even when you’re the one telling yourself something, there is always a persistent voice in the back of your head telling you that none of it means a damn thing. When you actually set yourself a physical, down-to-earth task, however, you reignite your sense of your own agency; even the most skeptical mind can’t deny that something has changed after you move your furniture around, even if it’s not something that makes any difference outside your own room. It symbolically reminds you that if you just get up and actually do something, you can change things.

There are other aspects to it, too. A major one is that I don’t like things to stay the same. If everything in my room has been in the same place for more than a couple weeks, I start to get antsy. I want to move everything around, or get rid of some things, or occasionally even add something new. I don’t like the feeling of being stuck in a rut, doing things the same way over and over again without ever changing it up. Even when I make a change and then decide I was better off with the original setup, I don’t regret making the change. If I weren’t constantly trying other arrangements, on what grounds could I honestly claim that this arrangement was actually the one I liked best? There’s a saying that you’re only as young as the last time you changed your mind, and even if I’m only changing my mind about something small, like where to put my recycling bin, I like to keep myself as young as possible.

Even when I end up with the same arrangement I started with, I find that it still has that feel of “newness” to it, as though I’ve just started out on some new adventure, going in a brand new direction, and anything is possible. It’s as though, even though everything is technically in the same place, there’s a whole new room where the old one used to be. It keeps me from taking everything for granted; it stops me from letting my living space just fade into a blurred backdrop in my mind. Even when the changes are subtle, I take immense pleasure in the fact that basically every time anyone comes into my room, they notice that something is different from how it was last time.

So that, folks, is furniture rearrangement therapy. It has never failed to make me feel at least somewhat better afterwards. I have no idea whether or not it works at all for anyone else, but hey, why not give it a shot?

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Daily Prompt: Flip Flop

Today’s daily prompt asks:
“Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion. Why the change?”

Possibly the most dramatic example of this is my belief in Polyamory. Today, I believe that emotional and sexual non-monogamy is not only ethical and moral, but actually more moral, more beneficial, and more natural than monogamy. However, this couldn’t be further from what I grew up believing. I was one of those kids who believed in “The One.” Not only did I think nonmonogamy was ethically wrong, I didn’t even think it was really possible. I believed that every person is only capable of falling in love once in their entire life, a view I have come to refer to half affectionately and half mockingly as “supermonogamy.” Each of us has precisely one potential match out there, one “love of your life” for each of us. Even as I hit my teenage years and went off to high school, I continued to believe this. Sure, I thought, there can be false positives, where you mistakenly believe someone to be “The One” even though they’re not, but you still do have a unique soul mate out there for you. In my case, I believed I had already found mine, and she felt the same about me. We were both aspiring writers. We inspired each other, and pushed each other to do better than we thought we could. We had known each other essentially all our lives; we were one another’s first boyfriend and girlfriend; we were young, and passionate, and very much in love. Given the evidence in front of me at the time, I can see why I believed what I did. If ever there was a storybook love, it was this one.

But, according to my strident belief in supermonogamy, what happened next shouldn’t have been possible: I fell in love again. I came to develop very strong feelings for another girl. I tried to deny it to myself for a long time, but it became increasingly futile. It wasn’t that my girlfriend and I had a falling-out, or that I stopped feeling as deeply for her, or any of that. If anything, while this was going on, my feelings for my girlfriend intensified. Nevertheless, I also began to have similarly intense feelings for someone else. Every moment I spent with her felt like an adventure, like I was being swept up in a whirlwind and carried off into the great unknown. We had spent our entire lives never meeting once, but we seemed to have everything in common: we saw the world the same way; we loved all the same books and films and shows; we knew all the words to all the same songs that were written long before we were born. We had even played all the same computer games! (Knights of the Old Republic all the way, baby!) Meeting her was like closing your eyes and falling backwards, only to have someone catch you unexpectedly.

I was convinced this couldn’t be possible. And so I came to the conclusion that I was wrong about my own feelings. I thought what I was feeling was wrong, not just morally wrong, but logically wrong. It wasn’t possible, so it must be illusory. In other words, I got myself believing that at least one of the loves “wasn’t real.” But try as I might, I couldn’t figure out which one. I would argue one side and the other, back and forth, always doubting my own feelings, hating myself for not being able to tell. I mean, if one of these girls was the love of my life, my one and only soul mate, and the other was just a false alarm, shouldn’t I have been able to tell which was which? There were days when I was convinced I had realized which love was real, but these “realizations” were mutually contradictory. Sometimes it was one, sometimes the other. All the while, in the back of my mind, there was one answer that I’d known was there from the start, but could never bring myself to face. It was eating away at me: the only logical solution. If either of them really was “The One,” I would be able to tell which one it was. They couldn’t both be The One. But for the life of me, I couldn’t tell which one I “loved more.” I couldn’t tell which love was real, and which one was just a lie.

Which meant that neither one was real. And everything I felt, for either of them, was all a lie.

Of course, I see now that this depressing conclusion, which gnawed at my mind and made me so doubtful and mistrusting that it ended up destroying both those relationships, was just the result of starting from the wrong premise: I was assuming, without justification, that it was impossible for me to love both of them, even though that’s exactly what it felt like. I had blinded myself to what I was actually experiencing by internalizing the dogma of “The One.” It took a long time for me to see past that dogma and actually look honestly at what was happening. A long time. Because even after that fiasco, this didn’t stop happening. Years later, after a long and tumultuous interlude, my first girlfriend and I were back together, and something similar happened again. And again. Each time, I didn’t want to believe it, but after breaking up once and reuniting with my first girlfriend, I was convinced, all the way down, that our feelings for each other were real. But when I would fall in love with someone else again, it didn’t feel any less real than my love for her. Different, surely—every connection is unique, because every person is different—but no less real.

Each time, I would actively recoil from these newfound loves, trying to avoid repeating my earlier catastrophe. But as time went on, I was forced to accept, based on the crushing weight of the evidence, that it possible to fall in love with multiple people at once. In fact, given that most of my close friends were girls and that they wouldn’t have been my close friends if we weren’t deeply in agreement about some pretty fundamental things, it was actually rather likely. I wish I had realized it sooner, because there were girls who loved me as much as I loved them, but I never told them, because I was convinced that what I was feeling was impossible. There were people I hurt—badly—because I simply tried to pretend, to myself and to them, that I didn’t love them the way they loved me, even when deep down I knew I did. I wish I had figured it out in time not to hurt them, in time to show them that they were loved, to give them that same feeling of warmth and relief that comes from knowing that your love is not unrequited.

I used to believe that Polyamory wasn’t even possible. I kept believing that even after I myself had been mutually in love with more than one person, but at that situation of multiple simultaneous love stories interwoven in my life continued to recur, time after time, I found that I couldn’t deny it any longer. I didn’t want to hurt people I loved, to lie to them, any more. Most importantly, I wanted to be honest with myself, to finally be able to admit what I was feeling, to say it openly and honestly, come what may.

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to be right, no doubt about that. But when it came to the possibility of Polyamory, admitting that I’d been wrong all along, and that it was time to change my mind, to accept the position I’d spent essentially my entire life denouncing—it was the greatest relief of my life. That’s why I changed my mind, and that’s why I’m Polyamorous.

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