I Was That Other Person; Metamour Anarchy
I’d known him for a few years. Well, not really known. He drifted along the outer edges of my core friend group in high school. The weirdos, loners, and outcasts.
I found him interesting, even though I could never talk to him long enough to figure out why. Some people always stand out to me in a certain way — people I simply want to know.
I used to refer to this as sapiosexuality but I’ve come up with a less ableist and more accurate term: noetisexual.
noetisexual — being mentally attracted first and foremost, an attraction to the ways their mind works rather than a narrow aspect like “intelligence” (cuz then what kind?). Noeti can serve as a prefix in itself: noetisexual, noetiromantic, noetisensual, etc. Noetilinking,the general experience, is not a sexuality per se; it can be a type of attraction like sensual or emotional are types.
Exploring a person’s mental landscape is the height of ecstasy for me. Because of this, I tend to find more neurodiverse minds delicious. And some people nearly instantly set off my radar; I “taste” them without either of us ever having to say a word.
For an Aspie who can often miss a lot of social cues, it’s always easier for me to spot my fellow awkward folks. It doesn’t happen with every single neurodiverse person; we all have our own personalities after all. But with people I’ve developed deep friendships with, it often starts with that holy moment, that taste, that glimpse into a complimentary mental landscape.
And so it was with him. I only attended that horrid school for a year, but he was one of the people I wondered about knowing, a person I was very curious about. He had a girlfriend, someone I didn’t know too well, and since I was me I did what I always do, nothing. And as I couldn’t say yet whether I actually wanted him or was attracted to him, I didn’t do my usual awkward blurting out of my feelings with no expectations of reciprocation.
I let it be.
I changed schools and became just one of the boys for the most part. Despite some rather uncomfortable instances of the guys in my class wanting to initiate sexual encounters without any possibility of genuine relationship (they always picked the more acceptable white girls to be with), I enjoyed my time working on planes. I met a wonderful boy who became the first person to tell me my happiness mattered.
From that point on, I purposely sought my happiness. Up until then, I had remained hidden, on the outskirts, villified and forced into invisibility. After meeting that boy who was my boyfriend that year, I started finally cracking that shell in order to be born.
We parted ways in better form and I transitioned into college life. I met my formerly longest term partner. And I met that boy from high school again in one of my philosophy classes. He sat next to me and we fell into a moment of such surreality that every single encounter afterward was bathed in it.
After that class we talked. I took him to the apartment I shared with friends and we talked. I opened up to him about the surgery I’d recently had, the first of many. With his soft and lyrical voice he asked to see what the doctors had done. I lifted my shirt and he reached out to the incision in my belly button, eyes glistening with admiration, sorrow, and something else.
As the energy in the room built and thickened I pulled out one of my stories to read to him. I don’t remember which one. But at one point I looked up because I became all too aware of him staring at me.
Didn’t he look just like Damon?
He vaulted forward and kissed me. My breath caught and the moment enveloped us. Our minds touched as surely as our bodies did.
Hours later, he said he had to go. I offered him a ride home and led him out. Purposely not looking at one another in the shocking afterglow, we both blurted out that we were involved with other people but that I was his first sex partner. Since he was in a monogamous relationship, we agreed to not see each other again while we worked things out with our respective partners.
My partner was upset because the intimacy had occurred before he had a chance to be informed. I didn’t much like it, either, but I also couldn’t see it as cheating. It was never my intention nor practice to withhold information, deceive, or manipulate anyone, despite everything happening backwards. And being the anarchist aromantic I am, intimacy was never an exclusive or fenced property.
Regardless, obviously feelings were hurt. I didn’t speak to the other man for a few years. He found me long after he’d broken up with his girlfriend, and just as before, that hunger to know one another was there. Even as we agreed sex wouldn’t be part of it, our friendship blossomed beyond any possible container. That surrealism encompassed and accompanied any interaction.
It was the most peaceful bond I’ve ever experienced. We transitioned in and out of sexual friendship and intimate friendship for years, never quite defining, never quite knowing what it was. We danced around one another like binary stars.
I wanted to explain it to my family, especially my sister, but how could I?
He was finally free to explore intimacy as he wished, and as conflicted as he was about spending time with me in particular, he was able to experience time with other women (and to try with a few men).
Eventually, we decided to say, “Fuck it,” and just let it be, not knowing what we were to one another but beginning to make introductions to family. We joked about my son being born of the three of us because he looked so much like all of us. He wished me well when I moved 3000 miles away.
And then, when I’d finally found the energy, courage, and time to have him meet the person that mattered most to me, my sister, he died. His mental illness finally took him. We had spent so much time whirling around and around without a name and my coming out to my sister caused a painful temporary rift on top of the heartbreak I already had.
I said, “never again” and mourned openly, not caring anymore. A woman I barely remembered from high school mourned him with me and we grew much, much closer. It wasn’t until nearly a year after his death that I realized the truth: she’d been his girlfriend when he’d “cheated” with me (I still don’t know if that’s the right word. Sigh).
I’d remembered him calling her on the phone sometimes when I lay there beside him. I’d known they were close, but I had only ever encountered them as friends (except in high school). I was simply so grateful for the obvious love between them.
But after finding out that after all this time I’d been a factor in their breakup, I felt such love and sorrow and grief. That his death had brought us together was a gift.
She and I love one another so dearly, so naturally, despite what most people condemn as the ugliest of situations in any relationship. We share a unique bond, golden memories, and a well of sadness that memories barely fill.
Are we metamours? Are we lovers? Are we friends? Are we family?
Just as he and I could never find suitable language, neither can she and I. We don’t know, and I doubt we really care. We talk about living together one day. We talk about our shitty chronic pain. We talk about being bisexual and how that fits in with religiosity.
We talk about missing him.
Am I that demonic entity, that “other woman”, that so many people imagine? Am I limited to that homewrecker image? Am I irresponsible?
Do I care?
I love freely, without regret, without expectation. I let it grow organically. I do not seek to tame myself or others. Wildflower growing free. I grew entwined with such delightful people.
I broke the world’s shell.