No strings attached.

I woke up yesterday, still processing the way the Boy left my life, trying to piece together the timeline that my anxiety rage tried to obscure from my mind. I think I landed on something that hit deep, and struck a chord within me I haven’t plucked in a very long time.

He’d mentioned that he spent time googling and exploring the meaning of “polyamory” in his journey to understanding me, how my heart works, and whether or not it was something he could accept. Along the way, he realized that wasn’t how his heart worked, and that it would be a constant struggle with me, should we remain together. I sat with that revelation from him for a bit. It got me to thinking about definitions, about the words we use in our language to express states of being or thought, and what we’ve collectively agreed upon as working for us, broadly speaking, so we can communicate with one another without having to pause and explain nuance or differentiation.

Words like “husband” or “boyfriend” or “married” or even “love” itself, all carry a socially accepted definition. Hell, one could argue that the whole of Merriam-Webster is founded on this idea of collective definitions. But what happens when those definitions don’t fully apply? What if my understanding of the word “husband” isn’t exactly the same as yours? What kind of assumptions are you making about me, as a husband, when you hear me called that? How is your language and classification of me, using labels like husband-lover-boyfriend-Dad-etc, changing your perception of me?

For the Boy, I think he got caught up in all of that. I think, and I’m not certain so I’ll never be fully sure, that he started to see me through the filters that those words, those descriptors, layered over me. Instead of seeing me as a solid, single entity named Thom, he saw me through the funhouse of mirrors that those words became.

He never asked me to explain myself, or when I did try to add nuance or gradients or turn those words into a spectrum of meaning for him, he didn’t or couldn’t get there with me. I think the difference between what he understood those words to mean, and how they applied to me, was too much of a gap for him.

Again, I don’t know, and might never know for sure, but it’s a theory that seems to fit well with regards to the situation.

I don’t want those terms applied to me. At all. I want to be known as just me, for my name, for as long as possible.

I don’t want to be classified, boxed, organized, shelved, categorized, or labeled, and have those things be the only thing I am for any one person. It makes my skin itch to think about how constrained those words make my entire being become in the minds of others. I’m more than any one of them, an amalgamation of all of them, and also exist beyond what any google page or dictionary might have to add to the understanding of each of those words.

Going forward, I’m going to be cutting more of these strings.

I don’t want the weight of them on my body and personhood. I want to engage with people who are willing to question the words and terms they use to describe someone else, especially as they get to know that person more intimately, and understand that just because they have their own understanding of what those concepts, those categories, all kind of mean, they might not know the full spectrum of definition. I want them to be as curious about redefining these words, these weighted, heavy, long-standing words, full of both promise and problems, and take ownership of the words they use.

This year, this summer, this new season of Spring and at the midpoint of my life, I’m going to be far more selective about who I let in close to me. I have that right, and I owe it to myself to surround myself with quality people who enhance my life. I’m also going to start valuing myself, my own personhood, a bit higher. I’m considering the ways I can express myself and be closer to who I am, and how that can add to my life.

Stay Tuned. Daddy is going to explore this darkness a bit more, and see what he comes up with. 💚


Today has been a day of reconnection.  

I had a lovely moment with my husband in our shower, as we lathered up and cleaned our skin for the day.  In the steam and water, we embraced, for the first time in a very, very long time.  Our schedules, and with the introduction of the ex-boyfriend over the last few months, has meant that we’ve definitely not been able to connect on even the most basic level. A quick chat over morning coffee, sometimes, does not make for a healthy marriage, and I felt that pressure early on in my time with the Boy.  

Still, my husband knew that I was going through a thing with the Boy, and that I needed space to find my pace and place with the addition to my family and our home.  He was happy to see the joy on my face that the Boy brought into my life, even while he was worried about the stress I was putting myself through to support him and also maintain my connections with the other men that I love.

It would come to pass that, in fact, my husband was a little hurt by how little time we saw and spent with each other.  He admitted this to me yesterday, and I had to sit with that fact for my entire work day.  Turns out, he wasn’t deeply hurt, but just a little wary about things between us.  We’ve been together for over nine years now, and our relationship has become stronger and more unique as time has passed.  Others from the outside have definitely judged our connection, and some do not understand it, or can’t wrap their minds around it.  Frankly, that’s how I’d like it to be. People will always make assumptions and categorize the things they do not understand or have experienced themselves, and our resilience to exist through all of that is only a testament to how strong we are as a couple.

I also had a moment to reconnect with my other local partner today.  David, the DJ, has been part of my PolyFam for a few years now, and while our connection is definitely more of a light-touch, no-expectations kind of arrangement, we did miss each other while I was wrapped up in my other situation. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve been able to come back together, and express love and intimacy in ways that work for us, and that support and nourish each other, as we’ve been doing all along. He loves that he can let down his guard with me and be “small,” while I enjoy offering him solace and security when the world gets hard for him.  He also gives me solid advice about how my heart feels, and reminds me, often, that I have true value in the world and am worthy of love that reflects that. While I’ve been in this moment of transition in my relationships, he’s been so good at helping me keep my balance, and re-establish who I am, how I love, and what that all means.

I have also spent some time, briefly, connecting with my longer-distant partners, Cody and Rene, and just reminding them that I love them and that they matter. Cody is managing a relationship shift in his life, as well, and so it’s important to me to be there for him in as many ways as possible.  Rene is overwhelmed with stress and is trying to find balance between caring for himself and keeping himself invested in his community.  Much along the lines with Cody, I am distant, but am there for him in any way that I can be.  Long distance is tricky, but it’s doable.  

I will carry on with my life, the way I love, and build more faith in my own self and my own values as time passes.  My journey with the ex-boyfriend was a bit of a stress-test for me that I really needed to go through in order to find the boundaries that I cannot cross, and how much tolerance I have for flexibility across the areas of my life. I still have miles to go and healing to do, but I feel like today was a good first solid step in that direction. 

One Month

David arrived on October 5th, with the intent of attending a job interview with a shipping company here in Portland. His intent: get to Portland, back to the PNW, and to be closer to me.

The job? Well, the company had misrepresented themselves in the ad, and David passed on that interview. But, he still arrived, eager to make a go of a new life, and a new love, in a new place, ready to engage with a new chapter for himself, and for us.

One month on, and I can honestly say that Dad could not be more contented. Daily, he and I connect, giggle, kiss, and are genuinely affectionate with each other. Daily, we talk about our mental health status, the challenges we are facing, and realizing slowly that we’ve got each other to lean on now, and for as long as we want to do so.

In this last month, I’ve learned that I have so much more healing and personal growth to undertake. Because of David’s persistent affection and presence, with so many huge hugs, deep kisses, belly rubs, and all the rest, I am learning that I still don’t love myself, my body, and my mind nearly enough. I don’t appreciate all that I am capable of, nor do I count myself as worthy of many of the amazing and wonderful aspects of my life. I have to be kinder, gentler, more loving, to myself, if I really ever expect myself to be able to love as big as my heart requires.

Taking care of the Boy while he gets his feet under him has been such an undertaking, and has left me feeling like there’s so much more I could and should be doing. I want to do more of this, too. I want to be more of a caregiver, a nurturer, a source of peace, love, and comfort for more of my community. In order to be that guy, though, I have to get my own affairs in order. I have to be better with my resources, and how I use them, and how I meter them out. I have to be smarter, wiser, and kinder.

I still have so much more growth to undertake, even now, after the midpoint of my physical life has arrived. It’s amazing, really.

Mental Health Days

I grew up in a world where mental health concerns were the stuff of humor and ridicule. Mental health hospitals were deemed terms like “looney bin” and “psycho ward” and the like. Conversations about people with mental health issues included terms like “bat-shit crazy” and “psychotic” in ways that indicated derision and a derogatory tone. Mental health issues were a shameful thing, best dealt with quietly, in the darkness, and out of sight. Nobody admitted they were on pills to cope. Ever.

For years, I cast off any suggestion that I had depression, or needed therapy, or any help at all. I denounced all mental health meds as just “crutches for the weak” (again, ableist as fuck) and denied myself the care I clearly needed because of the stigma around not being normal.

That stopped, fully, last year, when I started down a path towards my own mental health improvement. My anxiety and depression had gotten so bad that it was affecting how I interacted with the people I love. I was sleeping maybe 4-5 hours a night, my insides were always in a knot, and my drinking had grown exponentially. I needed to come to terms with my old ways of thinking, and admit that I needed help.

Thankfully, I had (and still have) a wonderful support network around me to lean on when shit hits the fan. Dad’s not as strong as he’d like to be, but then again, the definition of “strength” is malleable. I’m learning a lot about the bullshit I carried around for years. I’m working through it. Part of that journey meant coming to terms with my needs at work. I finally applied for an intermittent medical leave, a protected right under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which will help me both keep my job, and work even harder on my mental health needs and growth.

Today, I finally took advantage of this protection for the first time.

I woke up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, and as I looked at my scheduled day – 12 hours at the handle of my train – and felt myself already mentally crushing under the weight of that. I made a choice. Today is a self-care day. I have been running hard for a few days straight now, and I’ve hit a wall. Mentally and physically. I lost track of myself yesterday, forgot my meds, and started to grind my own self down.

This decision runs smack against everything I’ve ever been taught about work and reliability and all of that. I still struggle with these old ways of thinking, still refer to myself as “broken” when that’s not fully accurate. Perhaps, today, as I recover and pull myself together again, I will ruminate on the way I talk about my own mental health and wellbeing.

Love, Expanded

Out of the blue, my Boy, who’d been kinda floating around in Salt Lake City, unsure of his next moves, and still seeking some forward momentum, made a decision.

He was coming to Portland.

He’d spent some quality time in Juneau, AK, and definitely had a fond memory of the damp and drear that’s somehow magical up here. After spending nearly a week with me, hiking and camping and getting to know me a lot better, he also decided to let me in.

Much closer, in fact.

Cozy Fellas Indeed.

So, he packed his bags, boarded a one-way flight, and now is taking up residence at our place.

It’s a big change. For all of us.

Amazingly, however, my beloved husband has been absolutely fine with it. He’s more than fine with my polyamory, and he’s also more than fine with us giving space to a lovely young man as he gets his feet under him and forges ahead with a new life here in Portland.

At the husband’s suggestion: Rooster Rock

Today, the Boy, David, has begun the process of getting set up here. He enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, and is working on getting registered to vote. He’s also started the job application process and the hunt for income.

He’s aware of the need for his own space, for a need to contribute to the household. He’s not just a freeloader, and not taking advantage of our generosity, or my heart. All of my worries and concerns and catastrophizing has been for naught.

Besides…Dad likes giving out more hugs and kisses to more lovely humans on his way out the door to work. This is a life-moment I’ve been dreaming about forever.

Second Life

It’s really hitting that I need some massive changes in my life. My job in public transit is steady and even, in terms of pay and such, but man, it’s taking the life right out of my body at pretty steady flow. It has been for a number of years now, and I’m fed up with it.

Over the last six months or so, I’ve taken up with something that was suggested to me by my old fitness coach, and gone and got myself certified as a personal trainer and nutrition coach.

Turns out, I fucking love it.

I’ve got a couple of paying clients, with more on the way (if we are a match), and I find myself really enjoying the interactions with people who want to make changes in their lives with regards to food and fitness.

Who the hell knew this Certified Fat Kid from Maine would ever find himself *happy at a gym,* let alone THRILLED to be helping others find happiness at the gym, or even in the kitchen?

Certainly not me.

What this has caused in my life, though, has been a cascade of changes that I’m ready to make, even at this later stage of things.

I applied for a job with the US Forest Service yesterday, as a person who would work in a visitor’s center helping people with information and pass purchases as they entered our nation’s national forests. The pay isn’t much, but it is government work, and it’s in a field that I’ve always loved and wanted to be part of – outdoor recreation and conservation – and would more than likely bring me joy.

I plan on seeking out other opportunities and applying for them as well, in any number of areas of work. I have literally nothing to lose by sticking my hat in a variety of rings, and probably a lot more to gain by seeing where it all takes me.

Yes, even at 45, I feel like I have so much more I could be doing with my time that would be more beneficial to the world, and to myself, in terms of mental health and supporting Joy and Goodness in my life. Why I feel like I’m tied to a job that is literally running me into the ground is beyond me, and I refuse to believe that this is all I’m capable of. I know, for a fact, that I could be doing so much more with my time.

I guess the phrase “Stay Tuned” is applicable here. Dad’s not done finding his way, it seems.

The Second Weekender

Ray could not go with me. Medical reasons were keeping him home, and our hearts were broken for a while, as the fact of the matter at hand sank in. As he processed and let go of all of the anticipation he’d been hanging onto with regards to this trip to the Gorge, I had to ask him one question:

What do I do with your ticket?

He suggested I sell the ticket, but that didn’t set well inside me. I wanted to do something…else. Something more. Something, possibly transformative for another human being. I set my sights on finding someone to give it away to. It came with caveats, though.

The person who I gave my armband to would also need to be someone who I’d be comfortable camping with at the venue. That limited the possibilities quite dramatically, and I started by asking men that I already knew. Most had plans, or work, or simply thanked me for the offer. It was about three days before the trip was to begin, while at work on a layover, that I opened up my Twitter and started to scroll.

Cody posted something, which caught my attention. He decided to voice some of his personal issues on Twitter in a thread that included his mental health status. From what I’d read, it seemed he was in a darker spot than he wanted to be, and put some energy out into the Twittersphere as both a means of saying “I’m here, but things are shit, and I want someone else to know that they’re not alone in the dark” and, as far as I could tell, a way to ask for some help.

I reached out to him via direct message, after briefly glancing at his profile and noting that he also enjoyed Anjunabeats music, and started the conversation.

What transpired over the time between our first direct message and the day I was taking off on the journey to the Gorge was nothing short of miraculous. He and I connected via messages on Twitter, and then shortly over to text messages. We swapped pics, thoughts, and soon found ourselves scheming flight information and schedules. Before I knew it, it was set that I’d pick him up at an airport in Pasco, WA.

Tri-Cities Airport is the *cutest* airport I’ve ever seen.

From there, we drove back east, to the cabin near Yakima that I’d booked months prior for Ray and I to stay at. It was an AirBnB listing, and while I wasn’t sure how this beautiful man flying up from Arizona, who’d grown up in SoCal would manage a rough cabin with an outdoor shower, the drive to the destination assuaged all of my concerns. We were in an adventure together, and would manage whatever the universe put out for us.

It was the tiny frog that greeted us at the cabin, hiding in the shade on the patio, that sealed the deal for me. Cody was excited by the presence of such a creature, and from there, I knew I was going to be okay with a total stranger.

I also decided that night to break my sobriety.

I’d been contemplating how that would make me feel for a bit of my journey to Cody, and simply decided that the whole weekend was a very special event, that I wanted to feel and be in a certain mindset, and that I was in control of my consumption of alcohol in a way that I’d not been before. I wanted to test myself, especially prior to getting to the Gorge, where I knew I’d be surrounded by people in altered states of mind and being, and see where I stood. My decision to imbibe also brought Cody a sense of relief, as he was unsure what my sobriety would mean for his experience. He was nothing but graceful and gracious about it, though, and we discussed our feelings surrounding intoxicants broadly. He admitted he wanted to take a break from his usual consumption, and wanted to also practice keeping control over himself in this manner. We set that intention for both of us. It was to be the first of many shared intentions over the coming days.

He and I bonded physically on that first night, the cuddles and affection and closeness felt right. We laughed and talked and shared more and more about who we were and where we were coming from on the lead-up to the show. Late into the night, we chatted, and as the conversation progressed, it was clear that I had broken a wall, a dam, inside of my psyche, and was at complete ease with sharing my life-story with a total stranger. This was met, in return, with a total stranger sharing his story with me as well.

I’m still processing all that occurred over the next few days, but suffice to say, I was transformed. Cody and I became inseparable, even after offering each other many ways to break our time together. Neither one of us really wanted to be without the other at his side. The conversation had become so intense and meaningful for both of us, that breaking the spell seemed illogical and irrational. We both knew how short our time together was, and instead of going through the event on our own, in our own minds and in our own ways, we both spotted the heightened experience of having someone there to share each moment with.

The first night melted into the next morning, and the gathering of people at the Gorge swelled. Some people I knew from beyond were coming, and I had a chance to visit with them briefly, checking in, saying hello. Cody and I took our time getting to the Gorge itself, both of us having been to the site before, and simply just took in the people and energy of the situation, breath by breath. This carried on into Day Two and Three, as well. Our rhythm was set, and swayed with the deep bass leaving the larger-than-life monitors at the main stage.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected agreements between him and I was that we wanted to remain on a semi-periphery to the crowds and people gathered for the music. Having another wallflower with me meant that we could both be present and removed at the same time. We developed an understanding that when one of us was needing a break, some time away from the throngs and energy of the show itself, that we would simply indicate as much, and go with the other to catch collective breath. I could sense when he was reaching a limit, as he could with me, and it became almost second-nature, with us both reaching our limits at the same time. That shared-state brain action was phenomenal in many ways, but it really helped me to both keep in touch with my actual body and how I was feeling, and let me express those needs to someone who actually understood what I was going through.

In the end, the Weekender of 2022 wasn’t about the music for me. It turns out, it was about the feeling of camaraderie. I had opened up myself to the universe, seeking a way to give the gift of this weekend to someone who needed the experience. I had simply put out my intention into the ether, and was given Cody, an extraordinary and lovely creature of Light and Love, to share my abundance with.

I could not have asked for a better partner, navigator, and connection.

We both left the weekend transformed in so many ways, most of which will have to be left for future posts and thoughts, but suffice to say, this was one of the best experiences of my life.

On the Job

I know it’s time to change. It has been time to change how I draw income for a long time now, but it really, really is time.

This last week was far too much effort.

Last night, on my last trip on my last day of the work week, I once again reached the end of my rope. I lost my cool with a customer who was being unruly on my train – most like due to intoxicants or mental health issues or both/all, and I lost control of my emotions.

While I acted forcefully, decisively, and for the good of all people on my train, I felt like I’d failed myself, having lost my emotional grounding, and letting this person get the better of me.

I still feel shaken by this feeling that I’m not capable of doing my job to the level that’s expected because I’m weak or broken or unable.

I was warned this might happen, by a senior operator when I started, who’s long-since retired. Elizabeth, you knew better, and you tried to warn me. I will never forget it.

The job hunt is on, and has been on, for some time now. Sadly, I’m tied down fiscally in ways that require a minimum salary guarantee, and that means a limited job pool to draw from. I’m also very limited by my work experience, as I’ve been in the same line of work for nearly a decade. I’m also old, and while age discrimination doesn’t happen on paper, it definitely happens in reality, and so making the changes I need are an uphill battle.

I am nearly done with my nutrition coaching certification. I need to dig down and get through my personal trainer certification as well, which is sitting like a large, daunting lump on my dining room table. Still, I know that’s where my joy is to be found, and a future-self exists.

I will get into my future, and find a way away from this mountain of anxiety and stress that work is brining into my life. I will find a balance. I owe it to myself, and to those who love me.

This Damned Fight

I don’t want to get political, but the events of yesterday, a culmination of seething hatred that’s been the background noise to my entire life came to an inevitable head. Like a puss-filled cyst, the conservative wing of the Supreme Court of the United States overturned nearly 50 years of precedent by tearing up Rowe v. Wade, pushing abortion access and laws back upon the states.

In doing so, they’ve set the stage to do the same for any and all laws relating to love, sex, marriage, race, disability, and other would-be “inalienable” rights.

We got married after RBG passed away.

That’s all well and good in a state like Oregon, where I live, and where, much to the chagrin of my central/eastern fellow Oregonians, we are a mostly-progressive state that has enshrined protections for a wide variety of human rights and ways of existing.

That’s utterly terrible for anyone living where the power to make laws rests in the hands of these feeble-minded men who cannot STAND to lose power or relevancy.

It’s been this struggle, buzzing around me like a tenacious horsefly, ever since I took my first breath. As soon as I had even a whiff of self-determination, I have questioned the motives of the conservatives, who wrap themselves up in Jesus, guns, and the flag at every fucking moment. Why do they hate me? Why do they hate anyone unlike them, for any reason? Why have they lost their sense of wonder and curiosity about the various forms of human existence, and have devolved into fearful, spitting rats? How did the public education I received as a young person produce me, a curious and constant knowledge-seeker, and yet leave them so fucking ignorant?

I don’t know.

But I do know I’m exhausted. They exhaust me. Idiocy *exhausts* me.

And? Their idiocy will kill people. Willful ignorance like what has been demonstrated time and time again, whether it’s fighting over integration, disability rights, reproductive rights, marriage rights, and on and on ALWAYS LEAVES SOMEONE DEAD.

So much for the Value of Life.

For now, I’m here, in my safe (for now) Liberal Bastion. And from here, I am a force of support, compassion, care, and love to any and all who are now under threat in my own country.

I don’t have the mental capacity to do more or be more. That’s frustrating. It’s always been frustrating.

Dad’s Right Here

If you need or want me, just reach out.