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Posts tagged ‘poly’

My name is Darby. I am an alcoholic.

Actually, my name isn’t Darby — that’s just the name that Laird Harrison used in his book about our childhood. But this also isn’t an AA meeting; in fact I don’t know who is reading this, so I might as well keep this fake name to protect the shreds of privacy that are left to me while making my one important point. Read more »

My next couple of posts will get us caught up to where I am now. Back in New York, the morning after I confronted Zulya, a crash in the kitchen woke me. Dante, still wearing sweatpants over pajamas, was looking at a shattered peanut butter jar on the floor. A plate next to him on the counter held a slice of bread heaped with a half cup of jam. “I broke the peanut butter,” he said when I came in.

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Taking refuge

Trying to keep my eyes on the road after I arrived in California last week, I groped in my handbag for my cell phone. With a thumb, I scrolled to the entry for Matt. A lot of people in Pleasant Valley go to sleep at ten or earlier, and I prayed as I listened to one, then two, then three rings, that Matt and his wife weren’t among them.

“Hello?” It was a woman’s voice.

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I woke up the day after I arrived here because Chloe, crosswise on the bed, had put her foot in my mouth. Daylight filtered through beakers and vases on the windowsills. I sat up.

“Good, you’re awake,” said Matt. Read more »

Dear Reader,

I welcome my stepbrother, Matt, to this public discussion of our private business. I owe him thanks for the clarification of our conversation from the other day. I think I follow his argument, but I’m not completely persuaded. As he writes, behavior results from an interaction of genes and the environment. Our parents were a fundamental part of that environment when we were growing up. My point is not to blame them. They acted out of a kind of idealism when they got into their group marriage. But I don’t want other parents to take the same decision lightly. There’s a reason why our civilization stopped practice polygamy a thousand years ago.

I’d like to point out as well that none of the four children from that group marriage have not gone on to raise their own biological children with a partner. I don’t think that can be coincidence.

As a doctor, I’m trained to see bodies as machines. But as a parent of adopted kids, I know there’s something more than deoxyribonucleic acid involved in the cock-eyed way my daughter Chloe is looking at me as I type this. She knows this half-smile, her head tilted to one side, will draw me away from my keyboard, knows from all the experience of her thirty-five months of life that I can’t continue to ignore her when she plants little kisses on my shin… I’m signing off…

When I met Ivor in Califano Park, I didn’t know how to begin a conversation with him.

“Matt’s changed,” was what I finally came up with.


“Well, he’s married. For most people that would be ordinary. But there was a time he couldn’t connect with anyone. Now he doesn’t seem so… eccentric.”

“He doesn’t think he ever was.”

“Do you?” Read more »

Meeting Laura

Hearing Charlie lecture me made me want even more to torture him with doubt. But I didn’t want Ivor or Matt or any of my family to have to deal with police officers. I dialed Charlie’s office number, figuring at one in the morning New York time, he wasn’t likely to be there. “Charlie,” I told his voice mail. “It’s me. Kidnapping? Bullshit. The kids are safe. You’ll see them when I’m ready.” I hung up. Read more »

My impulse was to duck out of view, but I rolled down the window.


“Oh my!” The familiar laugh rippled out or her. “Let me have a look at you!”

I stepped out of the car and she grabbed me. Read more »

About halfway through my second glass of iced tea, my beeper went off. It was a call from St. John’s, so I excused myself to use my cell phone. Afraid my voice would carry too loudly even from there, I took the stairs to the second floor. On the first landing, something caught my eye, an eight-by-ten photo framed an hung on the wall. By then, I was already on the phone, and it was a long conversation; one of my patients was scheduled for angioplasty and Naresh didn’t think it was necessary. It’s rare for me to forget the details of a case, but now I could hardly remember enough to make my argument. After I hung up with him, I figured I should check my messages, and as I half-hoped, half-feared, Charlie had called again. Read more »

A bill to allow children more than two legal parents passed today in the California Assembly. It has already passed in the state’s Senate and now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown.

It may sound like validation of the polyamorous lifestyle, but the sponsor  says it’s nothing of the kind. Read more »

In that moment, just hearing Charlie say he had broken up with Zulya wasn’t enough for me. As Anabelle suggested in her comments on my last post, I couldn’t trust him, at least not yet. I needed proof. And an apology.

As I put the phone back in my handbag, I finally took in the picture I’d been staring at. Sure enough, it was a photo of the famous four-person wedding: Dad, Mom, Laura and Leif stood on their dais, joyful but self-conscious. Leif is dressed incongruously in a tuxedo, Dad in a jacket and tie, Mom in a business suit and Laura in a green scoop-necked dress. I imagined that anyone who looked at this picture could tell, by the way their hands are linked, that these are more than friends.

As I absorbed the photograph, my breath shortened. Read more »

Read the previous post.

When Laura said she had more photos of the group marriage, I was surprised by the eagerness in my voice. “Can I see them?” Read more »

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Ivor’s ex-wife, Julia, lives in a brown-shingled house in the Oakland hills, tucked in a grove of live oaks and so obscured by camellias and rhododendrons you can barely make out the door. Ivor pulled the Explorer to a slow halt and sat idling for a moment as though having second thoughts before he cut the engine. He didn’t turn to face his kids and for a while there was silence in the truck. Read more »

Read the previous post.

Thanks for the comments about where I should go. I liked Annie’s idea. Apparently this place where Leif lives has a kind of open-door policy for anyone willing to put in the effort of finding it, somewhere in the North Carolina mountains. Read more »

Without asking me the kids had found the VCR in the living and were watching an old Bill Nye the Science Guy video, about the only video Ivor had in the house. I turned it off and knelt in front of them where they sat on the sofa. Read more »


Dessert that first night in Selu turned out to be fresh strawberries with cream supplied by Christine, the community’s only cow. Dante and Chloe had relaxed a little by then. They were getting lots of attention from the Selu kids, who wanted to know what television shows they watched and whether they had Xboxes. Read more »

When I woke up it took me a second of staring at the sticks and mud of the ceiling to remember where I was.

Pale light from one small window illuminated the dimness. The fire had died and on the other side of it, Leif had disappeared, his bedding folded neatly. I found my watch and was amazed to see it was after nine; we’d slept for over twelve hours – the longest rest I’d had since… when? Maybe since I was a teenager.

Read more »

Another day passed and another after that. I hadn’t slept so much in my adult life – an early bed and then long afternoon naps. At first I worried that the kids wouldn’t have enough to keep them busy. Read more »

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