Sitting in a living room on a Saturday afternoon, surrounded by the weekend ruckus of people delightfully tripping on acid. Initially my cup of tea sat next to a cardboard cut-out of Dwight Schrute. Now it sits next to a bong and a pile of National Geographic magazines.
Shoshana* is originally from France, and now studies at Concordia. She recently married her wife, Mila,* who studies in London. Shoshana’s boyfriend, Jack, studies in Italy.
Shoshana is beautiful, comfortable, and open; very naturally sensual and calm. Her demeanour and the projections from the big-bulb holiday lights in the corner rendered me nervous and skirting. I felt like a pre-pubescent blob sitting next to her, like an object devoid of sexual allure, because she had so much of it.
In a world that likes to categorize, her situation is what would be referred to as a “vee,” as neither Shoshana’s wife nor her boyfriend are romantically involved with one another. Her wife dates men, and her boyfriend is exclusive to her. I met with her and her friend Celia* in a mutual friend’s apartment, as people wandered in and out around us.
Shoshana started at the beginning. “I’ve always gone out with guys, and I’ve always been only interested in guys, but this one girl[…] I’m really in love with her.”
Before Mila was her wife, she was Shoshana’s best friend. They were inseparable for three years, and then, “after a while we were kissing and stuff, and we were like ‘oh this is funny,’ and then, ‘hey, we actually like kissing,’ and then ‘hey, we actually like each other.’” After that, their main topic of conversation was how in love they were.
They married, fairly spontaneously, in the Cinque Terre on a boat, after the waters turned international. Only a few friends, including Jack, were present. “Basically we just went out to sea, went swimming, saw the sun was setting,[and then] got married. We were on vacation so I guess [Jack] just went with it,” said Mila.
Marriage was never a concept to which Shoshana ascribed much value. She grew up thinking marriage was for papers, or for insurance if someone died. But her marriage to Mila feels different. “The fact that we’re married is just a funny story, but the fact that we’re married didn’t change anything at all, it didn’t make us more unified, or less. I married her because I feel like I’ll be in love with her forever.”
They’re coming up on the trip now; Celia notes the bright flower streamers attached from the wainscoting above a bedroom door to the opposite wall, painting splotches in the dark room. Shoshana keeps reaching back to grab the radiator behind her, running her fingers over the flower decal covered in silver paint.
She can’t parallel the discussion of either relationship, because for her they exist on separate planes, and she doesn’t have relationship rules, because she feels like they make themselves. When Shoshauna meets people, she sees it in terms of what they can bring into each other’s lives, and this translates over into her romantic connections. Jack brings her peace and quiet, while Mila makes her feel like a part of a whole. “It’s a really different world inside, like with her and with him I’m just a different person as well.”
“With Jack I clearly know what it is. When I left to Canada, he said ‘I’ll wait for you,’ and I just left thinking we’ll see what happens. At the time, he had said, ‘find yourself, it makes sense; it would just make me kind of sad if you thought [it wasn’t] enough to just be with me.’”
Shoshana doesn’t want to date other people, because when people ‘date’ they’re creating something together, but she does think it would be enriching if they allowed themselves to have outside relations.
“Sometimes I see a person, and I just want to have sex with this person. I don’t want to have a relationship with them, I just want to share something with this person and I know it’s go[ing] be a good experience.”
Shoshauna says that she’s often asked about the ability to love more than one person. Common are notions of ‘the relationship’ as something that exists only in the realm of exclusivity, as if it cannot exist or be true if something else exists or is true. The common assumption is that this love, this truth, is a sort of finite commodity.
Jealousy, for her, is seen as more of a natural oscillation of insecurity. She would get jealous if Jack had sex with someone else, but only because she would worry that her skill would be compared to the skill of the new partner. She says that no one ‘is’ someone’s, but that people can easily feel like they’re not unique or ‘not enough,’ and that someone else is better.
But she gets the love from both sides, so she thinks she shouldn’t have any jealousy. And Jack has never said anything about it. She thinks Mila worries sometimes, though, about not being her paramount. “She’s kind of scared that she’s not going to be the ultimate one, but she is. She will always be.”
I’m more comfortable now, and Shoshana is pointing out the stacked lines built by the tower of National Geographics, and running her eyes and fingers over the different thicknesses. She starts to stroke at a grey and black crinkle, alone amongst the golden ones. I reach forward and pull it out; it’s a woman’s butt: The Daily’s sex issue. She’s surprised by the butt, and stops talking.
Her friend Celia* moves from the chair full of streamers to the arm of the couch, and says, “I believe that it’s possible to have connections with more than two different people in different ways […] but I don’t think people take seriously this thing with Mila. They’re like ‘oh you’re just two stupid best friends who love each other.’”
Shoshana agrees, but she says it doesn’t upset her. “I think they just can’t fathom it, […] they don’t think of it as like, I’m married to a guy. […] It’s not held to the same standard, definitely. People imagine that if two girls are getting married like, oh they’re best friends, and we are best friends, but that’s not why we got married. If we were just best friends we’d only get a best friends certificate, or something. It’s something I’m pretty frank about. And I’m really, really proud of it, because I love her so much.”
She thinks that the word marriage, disregarding the parties involved, carries a traditionalist connotation, and even though people’s relationships may not play out on this stage, marriage as a union is coloured by it’s previous historical roles. And the general conceptions that people bear, regardless of their intention, still show this. “I’m happy that we can say we can marry two women; we just don’t know how to say it. And it’s good, because it’s not like it [was before].”
Shoshana leans back, and reaches for the radiator again. “For me, because [marriage] is not one thing, so long as you love the person, the people, you’re with; then that’s what matters.”
*names have been changed