These writings contain my experiences and opinions. The opinions are personal in nature, not professional. I am not a professional; I have no degree. These are the insights I have gleaned from living four years in a polyamorous relationship.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

The More The Merrier

My family and I recently survived the hell that was Hurricane Wilma. We were in the direct strike zone, in the part of Palm Beach County that got hardest hit, and in the eye-wall both coming and going. The experts are still arguing over whether it was a category two or a category three storm. It really doesn’t matter. It was scary, nerve-wracking, stress inducing, and downright terrifying, at times. The only way we got through this was together. I couldn’t have done it without either one of them, and vise-versa times two.

We were better prepared for this storm than we were for the two hurricanes that hit us last year. We have learned something every time we’ve been through this, and we’ve improved our preparations, our strategies, and our coping mechanisms. This year, for example, we had a whole house generator to power us, as opposed to the little gas generator that would run a refrigerator and a light. We couldn’t use our clothes dryer or our stove and oven, but we did have a hot shower at the end of every day. We didn’t sit around in twilight while we sweated to death. Hubby did not have to rent a hotel room and travel there every day just so that he could work.

We were stocked up on food—real food—not the hurricane fare of peanut butter and Twinkies like last year. We had soy milk and Egg Beaters and pasta and sauces and tofu and canned veggies and soups. We froze cheese and bread and coffee creamer for when we ran out. We had vats of water stored, in case something happened to our water treatment plant, sewage, etc. We had 40 gallons of gasoline on hand in case we needed to fill up our vehicles before we could actually get gas at a gas station.

We were ready, and it hit us hard, but we emerged the next day and started doing what we had to do. We lost most of our roof. We lost a banana tree, lots of limbs from a mimosa tree, all of the limbs from a mango tree, and the majority of limbs from a sea grape tree. We also ended up with about half of a fichus tree in our yard. The ironic thing about that is that we didn’t have a fichus tree in our yard before this storm. A tree branch actually punctured one of our hurricane shutters and shattered the glass. My brand new car already needs a new paint job. The shingles that used to be on the roof flew right across my car and took off the paint like sandpaper. Wife’s car was damaged, as well, and it was worse.

Then we started helping everyone else do what they had to do. A tree that used to stand in our median fell and blocked us in. Hubby lent his chainsaw to the cause of cutting us out. The only reason he didn’t go and help himself was that he was too busy trying to tarp the roof that we lost.

An elderly man from down the street showed up on our doorstep. This man had never even bothered to give us the time of day before. In fact, if we waved, he would actively look away. He said that he was diabetic and asked if we could keep his insulin cold for him. He said that it was his life, and if it were to get warm it would be no good to him. So yes, we kept his insulin. He told us later that he used to think that we were “strange” and that he couldn’t quite figure out what was going on with us. He said he’d watch us leave in a group or in varying configurations of two and he just thought that we were “young and immoral.” Then he said, “I don’t even want to know what’s going on over here anymore. You are all good people, and you’ve done more than your fair share during this mess, and you saved my life.”

A next door neighbor that was never rude to us, but was also never really friendly showed up one morning, as well. He wanted to check and see if we had phone lines. We did not, and he was distraught. He has a heart problem, and his grown son, who lives with him, is an epileptic. He was scared to death that something would go wrong and he’d be unable to make an emergency call. Hubby lent him his spare, pre-paid cell phone. There was no cell service at the time, but Hubby told him that it would eventually come back up and to just keep it until we got some sort of regular service restored. The man still has the cell phone, but he made us a hand drawn card. He’s actually not a bad artist. The card said, “To the three nicest people I’ve ever known.”

The young woman across the street has only owned her house for about six weeks. She’s 25ish, and she lives with her boyfriend who is about a decade older. She got hit pretty hard. She lost the back part of her roof, and a tree landed on her front addition, so she took on a lot of water. Her boyfriend literally disappeared the day after the storm, and she was over there with that mess all by herself. On day one of clean-up, we put our wheelbarrow in the street between the two houses, and worked on them both at the same time, gathering and piling like materials at the curbs. Wife and I helped her take her plywood down, and when Hubby was cutting up all the branches in our yard, he went and cut the one off of her house as well. She told Wife later that when she first moved in we made her nervous. She thought we were “hippies who would have strange loud parties” and would do things that would make her embarrassed to have her mother over. She said to wife, “I’m so sorry that I ever thought anything like that. You guys are all great, and I wouldn’t have gotten through this without you.”

On day three, the day that everything would have spoiled without electricity, we had a neighborhood bar-b-que. We told the neighbor that we actually know and like that they should bring over whatever meat was going to spoil anyway. We bought a brand new gas grill in preparation for this storm, and we had lots of liquid propane. We told them to tell the neighbors that they knew and to have them pass it on. A lot of people showed up with chicken and pork and beef and fish and even some venison. We cooked it all. Folks ran home and grabbed canned veggies and beer, and we fed a whole lot of people and actually had a pretty decent time.

We loaned our small gas powered generator to the diabetic, and we sold several gallons of our gas to the neighbors who needed it to refuel their own gas powered generators. We handed over all of our stored water to a family whose well-pump lost it’s prime and wouldn’t draw.

I cannot begin to tell you the number of people who thanked us profusely, who told us that they had preconceived notions about us that turned out to be all wrong, who said that we were great people.

We fed a neighborhood. We kept life saving fluids cold. We kept a man with a heart problem from completely panicking by giving him at least the semblance that he was still in contact with the outside world. We helped people chainsaw their way back into their own houses. We provided gas to people who would have otherwise run out. We provided power to an octogenarian who had none. We helped get us out of this neighborhood where we were trapped. We made sure children had water. We donated all our candy to a huge pile so the kids on our street could have something like a Halloween.

We did this…
Not the Catholic family from around the corner…
Not the born again Christian from across the street…
Not the Hindus from up the road…
The immoral, deviant, atheistic, polyamorous hippies from down the street…

Now, I dare any one of them to tell me that our lifestyle is wrong or bad. We were able to do so much for so many others, because of our lifestyle and our family. We were able to do what we did based largely on the things we’ve learned from living the way we do. We were able to share, because we know how.

The more the merrier, I say!

PolyAnna; November 09, 2005

PolyAnna is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.


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