Monday, April 28, 2008

An unexpected weekend

This weekend was Bee's birthday, so we had made plans to go camping at Assateague Island in Maryland over Saturday night. Pursuant to these weekend plans, we moved our regular Saturday night fun to Tuesday night, and Tara got Chinese food instead of cooking her usual hot dogs. That was a big mistake, because of all the bad luck, she contracted salmonellosis, probably from eating infected steamed chicken. So she was dreadfully ill starting Wednesday, but we held out hope for a miraculous recovery that would allow the camping trip to happen.

Friday I took off work so we could get our birthday celebrating in before the trip. In the morning I took Bee to a new spa and got her a facial, while I got a relaxing massage. We came back to have breakfast with the other girls and in the afternoon we went to see Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. Then we came home and watched baseball and cooked a special pasta dinner of spring ravioli, then opened a bunch of presents and had our ice cream cake. While we were having cake, we pretty much figured out that Tara's illness was not going to allow her to make the trip, so we decided to postpone it. It was pretty disappointing for everyone, and although on the one hand, it was nice to look forward to a quiet weekend, it also made me feel snakebit after what happened with Joanna's wedding last month.

I've been feeling a bit pensive this weekend relating to Tara's illness. As a secondary in a poly relationship, I am constantly trying to understand what my role is in the larger dynamic of our family. While Bee and I were out shopping for Tara's medicines, I thought about how my relationship has certain benefits and limitations that color the way I feel about it sometimes.

On the one hand, Bee is Tara's primary, so she naturally takes responsibility (with Bug's help) for taking care of her needs, like medicines, food and basic supplies. Since I'm a secondary (in role if not rank) I have no say in those matters since we don't share household budgets.

On the other hand, Tara and I are like two people who are in a long-term dating relationship (dating each other, that is) in that we have no real responsibility toward each other besides making each other happy. And generally speaking, we do a pretty good job at that.

So the question is - is it enough for me to be in a relationship with someone where we just have fun and share each other's lives at arm's length? Where we don't have to deal with one being sick and keeping the other awake at night? Where we aren't concerned about how much money to spend on books versus clothes?

I'm not sure.

Part of me likes being independent and making my own decisions about my household budget and what to do on a Saturday afternoon. Another part of me longs for a relationship where I can care for and nurture someone for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, for better or worse until death parts us. As long as I am a secondary, the latter scenario really isn't an option for me without some serious open-hearted talking, which nobody in my family seems to be ready for yet. And frankly, as a secondary, I don't deserve the kind of relationship I'm talking about because I'm not willing to give of myself as completely as Bee gives to Tara. In that respect, I feel rather inadequate compared to Bee's love for Tara, but I try not to let it bother me since I recognize that I'm a secondary and it's not my place to be a primary in this relationship.

But germane to the point, I am simultaneously wanting and apprehensive of being a primary. If it's going to happen, whether with Tara or with someone else, it's not going to be anytime soon. Maybe someday I'll figure out what kind of relationship will work for me long-term, and how to achieve it. In the meantime, being happy with Tara is enough for me.