Friday, October 16, 2015

We got some catching up to do

It's been a relatively uneventful few weeks since the wedding in PA. I launched my annual Free Love Letters project and as the weather gets to be more and more my season, I'm finding more things to do outdoors to emerge from my summer exile.

Last weekend Liz and I planned another apple-picking trip to Fishkill Farms that we last visited in 2013. This time we brought along Lytle, Nancy, Josh and Katie M. We hit a snag of traffic on the George Washington Bridge but we got there without any mishaps - last time a speeding car cut me off and almost caused an accident. The weather was even more gorgeous than last time, which was a blessing because the day before it was very wet.

We got a box of cider donuts and cups of steaming hot apple cider and sat on my picnic blanket on the hill overlooking the orchard. The only annoyance were the bees and other stinging insects that swooped down on us, attracted by the smell of sweet cider. Lytle, unfortunately, is allergic to stings so she was continually on tenterhooks until we started moving again. Liz and I both got tiny pumpkins and Katie got a larger one to carve.

To pick apples we had to drive down to a separate entrance and pay a car fee of $5. It was very crowded because the roads were quite narrow and there were way too many cars trying to get from one orchard to another to pick different kinds of apples. Add to that the beautiful weather and that it was a holiday weekend. We found some pleasant spots to take pictures and there were plenty of apples to be had, but since the line was so long and slow to exit, I put Yoshi into the exit line while the others hopped out and picked apples along the way and caught up with me on foot.

When we got back to the city Nancy had to leave but the rest of us had dinner at a sushi restaurant near Liz's place. We made it back just in time for their happy hour specials, which were pretty amazing. Afterwards we swung by City Swiggers so I could buy more Koppaberg pear cider and Katie found a few things she liked too. I had scored a street parking spot for Yoshi so we left him there for the night, said goodbye to Lytle, Josh and Liz, and Katie came home with me to continue watching our Heroes marathon. Puck came by later to say hello and crash.

The next day we all had breakfast and left together, Katie to go home while Puck and I headed down to Staten Island to get ready for my friend Adele's 50th birthday party in Bayonne, NJ. I don't get to see much of Adele since her life is mostly in New Jersey but she is one of the charter members of my women's group and I used to see quite a lot of her when we were both coming out as polyamorous in 2008-2009 (we first met at her first-ever poly meeting). And I was especially happy to see many of my long-time friends there whom I rarely get to see: Linda (who lives near Boston now), Barbara (who has been living in Phoenix for the past year), Lisa (who runs the NNJ poly group but came to my media training class earlier in the year), and Murray and Lee, who are getting ready to move to a new home together in New York.

The previous weekend Katie and I met up with Lytle and her friend Ryan at the Lower East Side Pickle Festival. It was also crazy crowded but since it wasn't very big we didn't have to go through it many times to find everything we wanted. Again, we were incredibly lucky with the weather, which was dreary only hours before the event started. Ryan also works as a stand-in for TV shows so he and Lytle both have lots of funny stories about it. Plus, he has a refreshing combination of positive energy and respectful reserve that I found very appealing. After eating and buying a few pickles we went to get real food at the nearby Sweet Chick restaurant, a pleasant find for chicken and waffles. The four of us had a really good craic going, which is a rare and wonderful thing. Yes, we are now Facebook friends.

I've been having TSMC events pretty regularly and some have been well attended. Natalia, Puck and I have continued watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries every week, and Katie M and I are keeping a fairly regular weekly sleepover schedule to watch Heroes, which we are both enjoying immensely.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Free Love Letters 2015

It's finally October and once again we are entering the dark half of the year, my time for creativity and renewal when for many people the opposite is true. October is a special month to me for a number of reasons. It ends with pagan new year (Samhain) on Oct. 31 and time for the cycle of the year to start anew.

I associate October with love because I've actually met (officially) all my previous lovers in the month of October. So even though I'm a polyamorous single right now, I believe in celebrating love in all its forms, not just sexual or romantic love.

So four years ago I started a project called "Free Love Letters" to mark October as my own month dedicated to love. It's sort of like those people holding "Free Hugs" signs in Times Square, but more permanent. As you might guess, I've kept a journal for most of my life but it was only in middle school that I started writing letters, which led to becoming a journalist and later into public relations. It has also played a big part in cultivating my past love relationships and some of my oldest friendships.

I started thinking of the FLL project after reading this article in the Wall Street Journal"Stationery's New Followers" - Aug. 25, 2011. I wanted to do something for the sake of art, without any other purpose or agenda beyond putting something beautiful out in the world. I've also been inspired by master calligraphers Jake Weidman and Seb Lester - although this project is not about the beauty of the script so much as the message in the letter.

As a whole, the FLL project celebrates love itself, not love for any specific person. The idea of love is bigger than the fuel for our intimate relationships - love is the most powerful force for good we have in the world. This is why I do all I can to help people find new ways to experience and share love. I sincerely believe that if there's more love in the world, it will make the other problems we have easier to handle.

So each October, I write a personalized love letter to anyone who requests one by sending me their physical mailing address between now and 11:59 pm ET on October 31. Even if you've gotten one before, if you enjoyed it I encourage you to request another! Everyone who gives me an address will get a letter - guaranteed - whether we've known each other a minute or a decade.

Each love letter will be handcrafted using some of the many tools I've collected over the years - fine writing instruments, a vintage manual typewriter, various seals and waxes, a burgeoning collection of handmade papers, etc. Once completed, it will be delivered to you anywhere in the world by old-fashioned postal carrier and thus its contents will be as confidential as things get in this modern world.

Your letter may be philosophical or romantic, funny or sincere. It might be perfumed or decorated. It might recall some tiny, distant memory of our time together, or it might be five pages long if we have a history. It might be lyrics to a love song that reminds me of you. It could be a story I've always wanted to share with you, but never found the right moment to tell it.

But whatever it is, it will be honest, and it will be about you and me - and whatever is between us and how it relates to the experience of love. It will be the product of my deep reflection about you and possibly a lot of research on how we've interacted over the years. And for those moments it takes you to read it, you and I will share a personal and physical connection that is so rare in this fleeting digital world.

Since I started doing this project, the number of requests have grown geometrically - one in 2011, three in 2012, five in 2013 and 10 in 2014. They have also gotten more involved to make since I'm constantly trying new ideas and improvements. So bear in mind that if I get 20 requests this year, it may take a few months to receive your letter, but I promise you will get it (unless it gets lost in transit) and that it will be worth the wait.

Finally, no response will be expected from you - the letter is my gift with no strings attached, in honor of all the love that has found me in Octobers past. All individual letters and requests will be kept confidential on my end, but you are welcome to share the experience publicly if you wish, as many people do.