Six months ago Rose called me.

“Mom, you remember Daisy, my Hampshire friend, right? We had tea with her in Northampton my freshman year.”

“Oh, yeah, Daisy,” I lied. “Sure I remember her.”

“Well, she’s moving to Seattle and she needs a place to stay for a couple of weeks,” Rose continued. “Could she possibly stay with you until she finds a place?”

Jack had just moved out and the prospect of banging around the walls of my home with just Me, Myself and I was daunting. The company of a young roommate who wasn’t beaten down by life’s jagged mountains sounded like a breath of fresh air.

“Um, sure,” I told Rose. “Have her call me.”

And so began a journey into a world that I’d heard of, but that I’d never witnessed first-hand.

Daisy, like many of today’s youth, has a completely different approach to intimacy than a lady of a certain age most likely bears (or should I say, ‘bares?’).

She is polyamorous. She is spankin’ active in the BDSM scene. And she has very complicated definitions of gender.

As her stay of two weeks turned into months, my home morphed into a train station of young men and women (and combinations of what my generation would call a man and a woman). I was schooled to refer to some of the visitors as “they,” because they self-identified as neither man nor woman but considered themselves to be a combination of genders that is not tied down to the conventional view of society’s mainstream taxonomy.

Struggling to remember names (thank, chemo), I eventually came to know the characters in her intimate life. I stupidly assumed that they must all lurk in the dark corners of alleys and bridges because their sexual proclivities were just so alien to me. But no, they were college students, builders, photographers, and veterans of war. And they were sensitive and intelligent and kind and accepting.

As the group spent more time together — often at my house — they culled a gathering of lovers into what’s called a “polycule.” Like a marriage, members of a polycule are committed to one another and adhere to a dedicated sex life that includes many rules, clear communication, friendship, toys and brutal tenderness. The ‘frienders’ (what I call these modern-day friends + lovers) would join up at ‘munches,’ which I gleaned is a social gathering of sorts at a local restaurant or bar, where the polycule would act out prurient scenes with ropes and blades and wooden spoons and whips, ending in tender ‘after-care’ coddling as players eased into postcoidal euphoria and/or dysphoria.

After six months of hearing about this bold lifestyle, Daisy has since moved out. It’s much quieter around here and the prospect of living alone no longer terrifies me. But I gotta say, Daisy’s stay here was one of the biggest surprise educational journeys that has popped up in my fifty years here on Earth.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if I ever joined them, STOP IT! This little girl that grew up in Wichita, Kansas and attended all-girls schools still thinks a side-ways glance can be titillating, racy and even a little scary.

Pictured above: Daisy (front right) and I (center, duh) with her polycule

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