So parts one and two talk about where I’ve been. Where do I want to go? How do I plan my future if I don’t even think that Lora and Jon and I will all be living together past a few more handfuls of months?
Well, for starters, I keep doing the things that I said I do in the first part of this series: I save money for retirement, have a full emergency fund, and put excess savings into other accounts. I would like to own a home one day – with or without Jon on the deed too (Jon would also like to own a home, but he doesn’t feel as strongly about it as I do). With or without anybody else on the deed. So I keep saving, because I know that I want to own a home, and see what happens.
If I met another person (or more) who also wants to buy a home, then I’ve already got a lot of my seed money saved for that. If Jon, Lora, and I stop living together, but Jon and I both save enough money to buy a home, and find a home that it set up in a way that it looks like it would be feasible for the three of us to live there, then we could buy that home. I don’t include Lora in the savings because she’s said she wouldn’t be interested in home-buying for years. If we all stayed together and Jon and I bought a home, and Lora decided years later to buy in, then we could either look into how we’d do that, OR sell our current home and buy a new home together.
I still feel pretty strongly that I don’t want children, and in many ways, the lack of desire for children is something that I feel causes me to be more adrift from a concrete future than polyamory. When a person has children, it seems that a certain pathway is immediately carved out: you raise that little person (or little people) to an adult. You put much of your resources towards them. You put much of your heart and mind towards them; loving them, thinking about changing to a better school district (if you can afford to), figuring out how you’re going to rear them – how permissive will you be? Will you be the kind of parent who lays down the law? Or if your daughter wants to dress as a pirate fairy for school, will you let her? Will you push your child into confirming to gender norms, allow them total freedom to experiment, or fall somewhere in between? Will Joe wearing a pink t-shirt to school be OK, but dyeing part of his hair pink be too much?
Parents think about those things, right? I mean, some of them do. And even the ones that don’t care overmuch still seem to be at least somewhat aware that if the little person in their care dies, they could end up in jail, so they try to at least make sure the little person is basically fed, clothed, and cared for.
(I’m doing my level best here not to go into a rant about shitty parenting. So I’m going to move on from all the different decisions and ways of handling children that people can have. I think I’ve made my point.)
Not having children means that I don’t have that set life plan to follow. Sometimes I wonder if part of the purpose of the biological clock is that the human brain, once it feels like it’s got some grasp on the basics (steady job, paying monthly expenses, having a place to call home, etc), needs another distraction to stave off the “What the hell do I do now?” feeling for another twenty years or so. Which is why children can seem like a good idea.
It actually reminds me of a theme that I’ve heard come up with many (though not all) monogamous people – if they don’t have their significant other to focus on, what else do they have? I’ve dated people who had that fixation. If I didn’t want to spend every night with them, they were convinced that something was wrong with me, because what could I possibly want to do other than spend time with them? Even some of the ones who had hobbies, and I thought “Oh good, they have hobbies. They’ll always want some time on their own, to keep up with their hobbies” seemed to have hobbies mainly when they weren’t paired up with someone else. As something to do. Until they either found a partner or died.
So. I have this life. Based off of the ages that my grandmothers lived to, and improvements in medicine, I’m going to have another sixty or seventy years. Hopefully most of them will involve me being fairly dependent and autonomous, though even if it doesn’t, I’m learning to cope with that, given my current chronic health problems. If I’m not having kids, and thus mapping the rest of my life out without children, and then grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren (assuming all my imaginary descendents played along with me and kept supplying future generations), what am I going to do with those sixty or seventy years?
This suddenly feels like a way bigger question than it initially was. Yikes.
If I wanted to be glib, I’d say I’m going to buy a house and fill it with cats and lovers. Lovers may come and go, but the cats would stay. I could spend my life converting my house into a giant cat play-house, complete with cat tubing going through the rooms and cat towers and outdoor cat jungles. Sort of combining the best of all of these (Also, does the world’s largest cat tree allow visitors? I’d love to see that thing in person) into a happy little cat-and-cat-lover universe.
And while I could see myself being mostly happy finding a home and turning it into a decadent house of love of cats, I think I want a little bit more out of life.
I really don’t know yet.
But I do know that how I love, and the kind of relationships that I want in my life play a big part in giving me the freedom to pursue other passions in life. And I also know that my not-knowing has less to do with polyamory and more about how my feelings on life have changed.
Even before I knew about polyamory, when I was monogamous and knew I didn’t want kids, I imagined that I could have very different chapters to my life. I used to dream about having a career for ten to fifteen years, then going back to school and having another career for ten to fifteen years, then maybe retiring, or going back to school and having yet another career for ten to fifteen years. Now that I’m about ten years into career one…I’m not really sure if I want to go through those years of being on a starting out-level salary again. I’m also not sure if I want to go through the years of people assuming that because I’m new to a type of work, I’m also an idiot and need to be spoon-fed information.
I’ve tried my hand at freelancing in my field a few times, and the sad fact is that I’m too good for my own good. No really. Sadly, my field doesn’t hire people and pay-by-project – it’s pay-by-the-hour work. And I am a fast worker. My freelance life involved finishing projects in a little over half the time they allotted for the project, which made my employers happy, though not inclined to bring me back for a higher hourly rate later. I had a few clients who I freelanced for several times at the same rate, and finally refused to freelance for unless they significantly upped my hourly rate and since they refused to do that, we were at a stalemate.
I could try starting my own business, which I also did just out of college, and quite thoroughly sucked at. I didn’t know so many things. Knowing what I do now, I’m not sure if I would want to put the time in to build a business.
And to be totally honest, now that I’m a corporate worker, working at a job that doesn’t treat me life an expendable widget, has reasonable hours, good pay and work that I really enjoy, I’m painfully aware that any choice that isn’t “stay here and keep working for this company” potentially has a very high failure rate. I could pour much of my hard-won savings into a degree in a new field only to find that I don’t like it as much as my old one. Or I can’t find work. Or I can find work, but it pays a fraction of my old job and the prospects for going up in pay scale are dismal at best.
Most of these worries and concerns doesn’t really have much to do with polyamory though, do they? They’d be the same whether I was polyamorous or monogamous.
I think that planning for the future as a poly person versus a monogamous person isn’t very different – at least, not for me. As a monogamous person, I fought with several partners who didn’t understand why I wouldn’t just want to climb the corporate ladder and work for thirty or forty years and then retire. As a polyamorous person, I was lucky enough to meet Jon, who loves the idea that maybe someday we could uproot ourselves and go work in a different part of the country, or even the world – if I’d stayed monogamous, I’ve have looked for the monogamous version of him (which a few of my more adventurous mono friends have found). Jon is a big believer in loving what you do, and trying out different things until you find one that you both enjoy and can pay the bills.
Even if Jon and I did decide to buy a home together, there’s still a good chance that we’d sell it in ten for fifteen years and move to another place to try out a slightly different life.
When I think about planning for the future, I think the thing that I think about the most is the health issues that I currently have dominating the rest of my life, and never getting beyond working and dealing with those. Beyond that, my next concern would be that I kept working where I’m working now, and didn’t continue to grow and explore as a person. That my life settled into a routine that didn’t take me anywhere or teach me anything.
In the end, this post opens up a lot more questions than answers for me. What do I want to do with the (I’m assuming) sixty or seventy years that I have here? I want to love. I want to feel alive. I want to create. I feel like I’m slowly getting the hang of the first one, so may it’s time to start looking at those other two and the shape I want my life to take with them. Better to start now than to remember them again in seventy years and realize that I never really took the time to see where they’d all take me.