A Road Trip to Niagara


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My journey into poly and ethical non-monogamy was long and tortuous. The pursuit of a freedom I'd fallen in love with as a troubled adolescent but had no words for and no worthy examples to look to.

The first polyamarous person I met was in Boston, a friend of Garth who I knew from the Python community and now worked with. Taylor was working on his PhD in neuropsychology and we tripped together. One huge mushroom with a colourful cap, blended into orange juice. My first trip since my psychedelic psychosis of about fifteen years previously. I saw aliens and talked to Stephen Hawking.

The next time I saw Taylor was a couple of years later. I'd come to America to celebrate the birthday of a friend's wife. Garth, his wife and I and a work colleague, trekked by car from North Carolina to another friend's ranch just outside Nashville. He was a tech just-about-millionaire and this ranch was the product of his startup IPO. There was a giant waterslide, huge bubbles, lsd, countryside and friends. It should have been perfect. When we left I left my boots behind in Nashville, but they returned to me in Barcelona months later. 

After a couple of days downtime in Durham, NC, with some tension between Garth and his wife which wasn't unusual we set off on the second part of the adventure. A road trip to Niagara falls. Joe was driving, Garth and I alternated shotgun, and we were to meet Taylor somewhere enroute. Both Joe and Taylor were celebrating completing their doctorates in neuropsychology. Both looking at how trauma changes the brain, working with army vets and funded by the VA. Fascinating stuff, but a level of abstraction below the level I find useful for understanding self. Too close to the wetware.

First stop was Delaware, beautiful beaches and blazing sun and a vicious kind of fly we dubbed the Delaware biting fly. We managed to get one stuck in the car with us and it accompanied us to Niagara.

We arrived late afternoon and setup our hammocks in the trees of the campsite. Then we all took the acid that Taylor had brought. It hit in the taxi as the light dwindled and it got hard. The journey from campsite to falls passed mostly in silence, suburban houses flashing past to who knew what awaited us.

The falls were lit up with coloured lights, like candy floss. The falls roared and thundered and the clouds thronged, and Garth's mood thundered just as loud. Garth wanted to forget, but LSD doesn't do that so we went to find a bar. We drank whisky and Taylor met an old friend serving there, the kind of serendipity common in far flung places. We was just coming off shift so we followed her to a bar frequented by locals. Locals in Niagara meant a strange collection of Eastern Europeans working their way across the states. I played patty-cake with a beautiful Hungarian and spat a shot of vodka, by mistake, in the face of an equally beautiful Serbian sitting next to me. Two flamboyant trans women fought loudly in the street outside, they'd just been barred from the pub. I made friends with an older trans woman, parent to one of them. It all seemed unreal and I wasn't as drunk as I'd have liked.

We played "I have never" and told tales of our sexual exploits. I told them of the month we spent in Romania before Benjamin was born, staying in a borrowed apartment just above my in-laws. Every day at four the orthodox bells would ring out across the town, which was greatly less annoying than the morning peals. Every day at three we put Irina down to sleep and made love. We knew it was good if we were still making love as the church bells rang out. One afternoon we timed it right and both came together as the bells sounded across the afternoon sun of the town of Roman, Romania.

Taylor was polyamarous but soon to marry. The rest of us were monogamous and married. Taylor and his friend were renewing their friendship and a taxi showed up and friend and he went to get in. Garth followed, and seeing the party breaking up I followed too. The friend, now almost in the taxi looked round and saw three of us joining her. She seemed to think for a second and then shrugged agreement and got in.

I, of course, was innocent and pure of heart; but Garth seeing into the future and seeing the three of us fucking this woman and decided that none of us should go. Our new acquaintance left alone, and disappointed, in the taxi.

The next day Taylor had to leave and Garth announced that he had to return to his wife and tell her something. Joe took me to the airport to return home.

It turned out that the day after the party Garth had cheated on his wife, in the haze of bleak depression and alcohol, with the colleague he'd brought to the party. He couldn't even remember doing it. His wife stayed with him, but the trauma of that time stayed with them and changed them.

Two examples of non-monogamy. Two different paths to take. Some day I'd like to go back to Niagara in the daytime.


"Everyone is crazy. The flavour of crazy of most people around them is what people call normal."

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