Andy, Cal, Roo and Aida at the Rêve HearthWarming and commitment ceremony
Place of Residence: Boston and part time at The Rêve (near Poughkeepsie).
Occupation: Therapist and consultant/speaker on topics around sexual health and alternative justice systems.
Place of Residence: The Rêve (near Poughkeepsie), and New York City.
Occupation: Queer and non-traditional family law.
Place of Residence: The Rêve (near Poughkeepsie).
Occupation: Outreach, education, and community building in the solar industry.
Place of Residence: The Rêve (near Poughkeepsie), and New York City.
Occupation: Tech support for non-profits.
Aida, Andy, Cal and Roo are building an intentional family together. In August 2019 they had their HearthWarming, commitment ceremony where they all committed to building life together and where Andy, Cal and Roo signed paperwork to own their new home together. Sometimes they call each other a polycule, sometimes partners, sometimes sweeties, and sometimes the words they use are situational.
Aida and Andy
Aida: We met in 2007 on a dyke LiveJournal community. Andy was part of it first. And so, we just became online friends and eventually, in 2010, met in person.
Andy: Right. So we met at a Dunkin Doughnuts and had coffee for a half and hour. And then tornado-ed on by one another again.
Aida: We weren’t partners then, we were online friends. But as we were catching up it was like, “Oh! You’re into kink? I’m into kink!” “I’m into this thing too…whaaat?” So we had a little bit more conversation then. And then started to be a little bit more in touch after meeting.
Andy cutting Cal's hair
Andy: While Roo and Cal were getting together, I was feeling all of this really uncharacteristic jealousy and fear. And that’s not usually how I roll so I was like, “What the heck self? You’re in favor of this happening? How come all these bad feelings?” And I was like, “But Cal’s just so cool and hot and amazing. And they're all of these things that I wish that I could be but could never ever be. So now Roo has the better version and doesn’t need me anymore.”
Cal: This is why I try to get to know people if they’re dating the person that I’m dating. Because otherwise I could make up things about them and be all freaked out. And if I’m like, “Oh it’s that person. They’re nice! They’re not trying to annihilate every part of my life and happiness." Then it’s like, OK cool. They’re just a person. And that’s what we did. We’re like, “Cool let’s hang out.” Andy and I met up at…. someplace…
Andy: I was like, what I’m going to do is get to know Cal and learn that they’re not the embodiment of everything I fear but actually a human person that wears socks and eats tacos and is scared of stuff sometimes.
So we were bros for like, 5 years. And then we were like, “No, we’re bros. It’s not gay. We’re bros”. And the we were like, “Oh heck, it’s gay.”
Cal: Yep, that is what happened. That’s exactly what happened. Everyone was like[singing], “I can see what’s happening. And they don’t have a clue”. We were like, “It’s fine! There’s nothing gay... oh FUCK it’s gay!”
Roo: I identify as mixed race and genderqueer. Those are probably the ones [identities] that feel the most important to how I operate in the world. The systems of race and gender which are often so binary, so stratified...and I do not fit into those binaries in ways that many other people do. And that is true for a lot of us here. But it’s definitely my experience. It definitely affects how I relate to other folks. I’ve used many many terms over the years about sexual orientation and gender identity. The term 'genderqueer' 's the one that’s ended up fitting and feeling like it fits the best. And then 'queer' for sexual identity. But various other ‘not-binary’ terms for sex and gender identities are ones that I’ve used over the years. Very few of them feel bad to me but the ones that I’m like, if you asked me to say, it’d be like, “mixed race, queer, genderqueer.”
The family that I grew up in was British and Ashkenazi and Pakistani on my father’s side. And my mom’s side is Italian, Scottish, became white American. Also I grew up in a multi-faith household. I was raised Muslim but my family is Muslim, Christian and Jewish. And I was raised with that in the family. I had Muslim holidays and then I went to my mom’s parents and I had Christian holidays. I got Eid presents and Christmas presents.
Roo and Andy
Roo: Andy spit an entire glass of water on my face the first time we hung out! And I was like, “I’m not mad! I must really like him.” And we started dating.
Andy: We basically have been together since.
Roo: Yea. That was 2010.
Andy making Challah
Cal: I never wanted to get married. Ever. Even when I was small that was never what I wanted. But I also didn’t want to live by myself. And when I was 7, I used to get this magazine from probably the same people who make the PBS show, “3-2-1- Contact” which is an old science show for kids. They made this magazine and there was an issue that talked about Earth Ships. And they were these wild, built out of recycled or repurposed material, cool houses with grey water filtration and giant plants to filter the water! And they were built out of tires packed with earth and plastered over sort of. They were these really cool natural homes. And I just remember seeing them and going, “Holy crap! I want to live in one of those!” So I was really excited about that. And the idea of having an ecological design for a house, and having more people live in it, rather than living by myself of living with one person…that sort of was the long-term plan. Even if it wasn’t an active plan.
The thing that I wanted was a family. And I didn’t want to get married or have children. And it turns out, you can still have a family. Even if you’re not getting married and having children.
Cal and Aida
Aida: So by the end of the night I was like, “Should I say something? Should I not?” And as I’m considering what to do about it, Cal comes up and is like, “Hey,” and in my head I thought they were going to ask about someone else in the group. So I was “Oh never mind, it wasn’t for me” (all this happened in a split second). But then they were like, “Hey, you’re a babe and you dance really well. And if you want to do something about that, let me know”. And turns on their heel and walks away. And I’m like Oh Shit! And I just bust out laughing!
You did. And I’m like, “I think that’s a good a laugh.”
Yea and I wanted to clarify. So I went after Cal and I was like, “I want to clarify that my laughter was not because that was a silly thing to do but because I was wondering how do I approach it and you just beat me to the punch. So thank you for beating me to the punch.”
Then was like, “Here’s my Uber, I’m gonna meaningfully kiss you on the cheek. Bye!” (Which is another move of mine.)
Cal and Aida
Cal and Andy
Aida: And so, there are a couple of things there in terms of, what will my future look like, that are still to be determined. But the commitment I made to the folks at The Reve, and during the HearthWarming ceremony, part of what came through that was, “Ok, we’re going to have to be creative with how we figure this out,” because I can’t actually live full-time in two places that are not actually that close to each other.
In terms of being creative about it, we are still figuring out what that means. Whether that means I live part time in one place part of the year and part time in another, whether that means I just travel a lot, whether that means there are other ways that I share space and time. That’s to be determined right now. We are still in the process of figuring that out.
Roo, Cal, Andy and Aida before bedtime
Andy and mom lighting Shabbat candles with a gathering of dear friends
Andy: We're taught from the cultural messages that we receive that there's only so much love to go around, and you have to be worthy of it, and you have to fight to be better than other people so that you can deserve love because not everybody's going to get to, because not everybody deserves love. And it's not true. But it's as true as it's believed. So, trying to create a world where that's not true and where that's not believed, I feel like the only way to try to bring that world into being, is to live as though it’s already here. And that means dealing with the things that are abundant from a place of abundance, and dealing with the things that are actually scarce, from a place of compassion and generosity.
Tree planting during their HearthWarming ceremony
Andy: There is a feeling of liberation once you’ve decided that you don’t need to do the things you’ve been told you need to do. And it’s scary, because then you’re like, “Shit, I have to figure this out for myself. I have to decide what I want to do.” And that also means there’s no map. And it’s horrifying. And it makes other people who are still using the map react very poorly because they’re like, “Wait a minute. I thought this map was mandatory. What the fuck are you doing?” Monogamous people, who live monogamously and it’s hard for them, they see polyamorous people and they’re like, “I’m doing this hard thing because I HAVE to. And if you don’t have to, then maybe I didn’t have to either.” And that hurts! I get that.
Cal: So honestly, one of the reasons that in the past, being in a non-monogamous relationships has been helpful, is because I have kind of a weird connection with my own sexuality. It can be really complicated and sometimes sort of impossible to interact with. So I will be like, “Aaaaah for a while I just need to not to anything sex.” So that is just sort of off the table. And to my brain at the time, and this is not a good way to think about it, but I was like, “But it’s fine because you can see other partners and things. I’m not depriving you of something important by being like, cool I need to check out for several months.” Or whatever the thing might be. And so, I always see it as almost utilitarian at that time. I was like, “No, this is great.” Because then I don’t have the pressure on me to fulfill all of your needs, whatever. And so, as much as that is a busted thought process, it’s not coming out of nowhere.
Roo's sister braiding their hair
On the property
Andy: It goes without saying that there is a queerness to the life that we’re building here. And that queerness is in an unbroken line to our queer ancestors. The way that we’re told that we’re “supposed” to live, queers have never lived that way. And the conformity to that norm has never been something that serves as a functional load star for people like us. The salaciousness of it, the weirdness of it, doesn’t apply here. We are living in the way that our ancestors lived.
There’s no news story in, “Oh the queers are living in their weird, queer little communes.” Because obviously we’re doing that because, what else would we do? Whereas, when straight people run off to communes it’s like, “Well they could have had Leave it to Beaver but instead they’re doing this other weird thing. How could this be?!”
So, our deviant nature prevents it from being as interesting when we deviate.
Roo: It takes more conversation to maintain multiple relationships. We’ve had difficulties between us where we have to really talk through this and figure out each other’s landmines. Figure out each other’s ‘ouch’ spots. And every once in a while we find a new one! It’s like, “Oh I didn’t know that was there! Ok, everybody, let’s be careful of this thing.” And trying to take care of each other and figure out the ways in which each of us want to (and separately) should receive care.
Andy: My relationships with Roo and Aida and Cal are all romantic. But not all of them have romantic relationships among themselves. For me, getting to watch my partners who are not themselves partners, develop trust with each other and develop intimacy with each other, and be with each other with me, that’s a really good feeling. You know what, it feels like it’s building that external stability, the lack of which leads you to try to control things. You know what I mean? Because I KNOW that it’s not all dependent on me. Because it’s a more stable structure with more people. And that’s really comforting. It feels really cozy.
At the campfire