Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Let’s just get this out in the open. From Homewrecker, Daphne Gottlieb

I was 14 and madly in love for the first time. He was 21. He made me suddenly, unaccustomedly beautiful with his kisses and mix tapes. During the year of elation and longing, he never mentioned that he had a girlfriend who lived across the street. A serious girl. A girl his age. A girl he loved. Unlike inappropriate, high school, secret me.

The next time, I was 15 visiting a friend at college. It was a friend’s friend’s boyfriend who looked like Jim Morrison and wore leather pants and burned candles and incense. She was at work and I wanted him to touch me. She found out. I don’t know what happened after that.

I was 19 and he was my boyfriend’s archrival. I was 20 and it was my lover’s girlfriend and we had to lie because otherwise he always wanted to watch. I was 24 and her girlfriend knew about it but then changed her mind about the open relationship. We saw each other anyway. I was 30 and we wanted each other but were committed to other people; the way we look at each other still scorches the walls. I turned thirty-something and pointedly wasn’t invited to a funeral/ a wedding/ a baby shower because of a rumor.

I am a few years older now and I know this: There are tastes of mouths I could not have lived without; there are times I’ve pretended it was just about the sex because I couldn’t stand the way my heart was about to burst with happiness and awe and I couldn’t be that vulnerable, not again, not with this one. That waiting to have someone’s stolen seconds can burn you alive. That the shittiest thing you can do in the world is lie to someone you love; also that there are certain times you have no other choice – not honoring this fascination, this car crash of desire, is also a lie. [cliché]That there is power in having someone risk everything for you. That there is nothing more frightening than being willing to take this freefall. That it is not as simple as we were always promised. Love – at least the pair-bonded, prescribed love – does not conquer all.

Arrow, meet heart. Apple, meet Eve.

It’s an old story. It’s one that we find endlessly fascinating and can’t stop telling, from the headlines to Jerry Springer, from politics to pornography. But if these conversations are happening out there in the movies, television and news media, they only occur only in the quietest and most painful ways in our own homes. And there’s no doubt these conversations are happening. A recent statistic in a Dan Savage column cited infidelity as high as eighty percent in all couples. Perhaps it’s true in the public perception that, as a close straight single male friend said, “Monogamy is what you can get away with.” But if there are so many people straying outside the lines, maybe it’s time to examine how we really love – maybe then we’d be able to talk about adultery without snickering, whispering or screaming.

Shortly after Homewrecker’s call for submissions was sent out, I received a number of fevered, upset emails. They weren’t submissions. Over and over, they said: You’re not in FAVOR of it, are you? I want to believe (but rather doubt) that this same question would be asked of me as the editor of an anthology on motherhood, cancer, or swing dance. But mothers, the ill, and dancers do not have to lie to nurture, heal, or perform. Here’s to the possibility to an end to infidelity, of having love without lies. As a writer, I’m drawn to contradiction and cataclysm, compelled by ambivalent, tortured emotional states. As a feminist, I’m appalled that most of the acculturated stories we have about adultery end with the betraying, sinister woman being punished/cast out while adulterous men come back, transformed, renewed, rescued. As an American queer, I’m on the outside of the primary happily-ever-after story we tell about Love, and over and over, I’m struck by how hard-won and rare living out this myth is – for anyone.

Here then, I hope, are stories, poems and essays about the way it really breaks down, about what desire does to us, , about what happens when we’re incandescent but are not allowed to be, about what we look like when we adore, and, in the end, what it cost.
~ "Let's just get this out in the open," Homewrecker, Daphne Gottlieb

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