So . . . That thing where the Writer thought I was seeing with the Editor (2013, Ed) . . . yeah, he was right.
Apparently, we are now dating. Secretly. Or as secretly as two people making out on a park bench in the middle of downtown can be.
— Words I typed into my phone at 130 am, about twenty minutes after arriving home.
I broached the topic early on. I’d had a traumatic experience so I was sort of freaked out when he arrived.
The Editor is someone on whom I’d had a crush long before we’d met.
He is smart and funny and worldly and has been on my radar and I on his since March if not earlier. Also, tall, handsome, very fit for a middle-aged guy. Hell, we are all middle-aged at this point.
He started interacting with me via twitter at some point over the past year. We made vague plans to meet up during that big event every March, but our paths never quite crossed. He was married, I figured out, to a writer. Gorgeous and smart, with a somewhat racy thing, many of my guy friends have crushes on her.
We first met in early May over wine at my favorite wine bar. I had already been drinking when he arrived, and we continued drinking, until we barhopped over to the Chic Hotel Bar to meet up with RA and the tech guy I had been dating. I did not realize that the Editor and the tech guy were in a rather public argument, but the four of us had a great time and ultimately went out to dinner, and the tech guy drove me home to W’s.
But, there was an obvious chemistry.
We hung out again months later (he travels a lot) and again, there was chemistry, but you know, he’s married. The last time before this was strange. We’d both been at different shows. He was finally back in town and wanted me to join him at one on Friday night that was kind of a big deal, but I had already committed to a different one, which it turned out, I’d mistaken the night. Oops. I went to my Saturday show and he went to a different Saturday show, but we were texting and trying to find a way to meet up.
Finally, my friends and I leave our venue, he leaves his and we all meet up at the hipster cocktail bar in my neighborhood.
We drink — a lot — and we are clearly on a date. Like we are sitting on a sofa together talking while the Reporter and two friends sit opposite and we are barely acknowledging them. Ultimately, they all leave, leaving us to finish up an unnecessary round of drinks. In fact, I hand him mine to finish. He walks me home, which is like 5 very short blocks up a hill, about 8 minutes, and there is a moment outside my door when I don’t really know what’s about to happen but it feels like something is. And then I hold the door open a second too long and two dogs sprint out and run through the neighborhood.
So, this evening that felt dating, ends in complete and utter madness as we are chasing two dogs through strangers’ yards in the dark.
Still, it wasn’t until the Writer asked me if I were fucking the Editor did it occur to me it were even possible his marriage was open.
And then I had to wonder if I had in fact been dating the Editor.
Because of course I had been.
He had asked me to dinner at a special thing and I initially said yes, and then declined because I was broke. He said, um, I would be paying, but he was working on a deadline so we bumped it to after he was returning from yet another trip. He had invited me to dinner at the new fancy restaurant everyone is raving about. (I’ve already been there a couple of times, he hadn’t.) There was a weird line in the email about how we could go during a period of time when his wife was out of town.
I laughed at how that sounded because it’s ridiculous, and he’s my friend, and yeah it was also a trial balloon. I responded back via text which then started a series of messages deliberately cycling through all the ways we could communicate: email, fb messages, text, dms. We kept this going for like a week, during which I was also in constant communication with the Writer.
And then I went out with the Writer and started to think . . . maybe this thing with the Editor is more than just platonic.
So, I picked the place because he picked the drink. We went to a bourbon bar, with a great selection and flights you could make yourself. (So smart.)
I meet him there, via bus. It’s the Monday night of Labor Day weekend and we are starting at 9 pm. Something happens on the bus over the course of the ten minutes I am on it. The driver was aware and kept it from actually happening, but it was terrifying. I texted him en route because I wanted him to know I was now an utter basket case. I was on the phone with the Reporter most of the time this was happening as a way of keeping myself safe. Terrifying.
When he showed up, I hugged him tightly and we took WAY too long figuring out what to drink. He asked if I wanted to get food there, or whether we should just get a little drunk and then figure it out.
We order bourbon and we get extremely healthy pours.
I decide to broach the subject of open marriages and mention that my relationship with A had been open.
It was just putting out there what I suspected was happening.
At the same time I am sitting there with the Editor, the Writer is messaging me, so I have to tell him, “Very safe. I am at [bourbon bar] with The Editor.”
Because both of these men know each other socially, his statement makes me laugh. First, I would never say anything. Second, I am not really publicly acknowledging that the Writer and I even know each other, no less that we are engaged in a sexual and romantic relationship.
So, the Editor and I talk around open relationships and I mention that in my life I had lots of different people who filled different roles, and now I was curious to see if I could find one person who could satisfy me intellectually, socially, and sexually. I also mention I was now dating more age appropriately. (His response, ugh, why? [His wife is MUCH younger than him. Maybe 15 years.]) He understands the different people filling different roles thing and says, even if you find all that in one person, you still will have different people in your life.
Which is true.
But the fact I am even looking this way is sort of a gigantic leap forward.
When we leave this place, we head off for food two short blocks north.
He wraps his arm around my waist in the most natural gesture in the world and it is now clear that — yes, this is an actual date. I put my arm around him and it feels so comfortable.
He knows I am actively dating. I’d told him I was on a terrible date just the night before and then about the date I’d canceled on Friday night to do the wine thing solo. He decides he needs to add himself back to their mailing list.
The restaurant he hoped was open was indeed open, with a kitchen still serving until 12 am. Amazing for an elegant French restaurant. We split two things, get dessert, and get entirely unnecessary cocktails. It was awesome. He laughed when we had sat down that the table at which they put us had us rather far apart.
As we leave, we hold hands and wander down the single busiest street in our town’s multiple entertainment districts, which is also the street on which he happens to live.
We stop at a bench some few blocks from the restaurant. It is brightly lit, but divided by a metal arm rest (presumably to prevent sleeping). He beckons me to sit next to him on one-half of it and we fit surprisingly well.
He starts to tell me what has been happening in his marriage: it is open, not by his choice. It had actually always been open but until the past year, they had still been monogamous. They set rules, and she dated someone “too close” and it made him uncomfortable.
I wonder, briefly, if it is the Writer. Sadly, I can’t ask the Writer without outing the Editor’s marital status.
The Editor laughed ruefully that he feels like he is in a very difficult position because while people assume that his wife is open due her somewhat racy writing, he feels that outing his status would diminish him professionally.
Frankly, he’s right.
So, he asks me how I feel about dating a married man. I told him I have no interest in having an affair or in sneaking around, but if everyone is open about it, I am open to it.
He said something I can’t quite remember but he was sort of outlining options like about how public or private this could be: like am I comfortable dating a married man? comfortable secretly? comfortable publicly?
And this is where all of my writings here get awkward.
We are all — to a greater or lesser extent — publicly known in our respective spheres. The Editor is a published author in his own right and is sort of well known. The Writer has a high profile gig and people know who he is.
I . . . am in society columns and I write about a topic of great interest to me, which has me on the radar of a lot of people. In this town, I am someone, I suppose.
My point is that none of us are anonymous.
And they wear wedding bands and I am dating married men in open marriages.
And it’s the weirdest thing, but also a wonderful thing because they are wonderful guys.
While we are having this talk, we are kissing, quite passionately, as the connection between us is strong.
It is starting to get very late, close to 1 am, and we’re a little tipsy.
We walk two more blocks until we are across the street from his building. He hails a cab for me and we kiss good night quickly, and I am home within 7 minutes, mind reeling a bit.
So, now I am dating two of the most smartest, most intellectually stimulating men I know, both of whom are married. Both of whom are at least professionally friendly with each other.
I know I am not interested in sneaking around, in not living my life. With the Editor, everything we have done has been very public. With the Writer, it’s been a balance between public and private.
I spend a lot of my life out in restaurants, in bars, at parties and events. My relationships are rarely as public as my life, but I am out enough and know enough people that my private life does not stay private for long. So do they.
We went out on a Monday night because it was when we happened to be free. We have been out together on Friday and Saturday nights in the hottest places in town.
So, this is something new. And unexpected.
I am actually happy about it.
I am also continuing to expand my dating pool. One of the chief downsides is that I still need dates for things who are not other people’s husbands. The fact these are not affairs does not make it easier to explain the complications and complexities of a modern American marriage to people who may feel such things are binary. It is or it is not.
So, I have told a couple of my friends who would never betray my trust. But I can’t tell the Writer about the Editor or vice versa because they wouldn’t want the other one to know.