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Press Release: Embracing the Power of the Village: Remodeled Love Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for Innovative App
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Embracing the Power of the Village: Remodeled Love Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for Innovative App
[RENO, JULY 11, 2023] — Remodeled Love, a groundbreaking, viral social media platform dedicated to expanding the cultural narrative on healthy relationships, love, and family, is excited to announce the launch of its crowdfunding campaign. The campaign aims to raise funds to develop a transformative app they’re calling “Nuclear Fusion”, that will empower individuals and families to break free from the constraints of individual and nuclear family living, and build supportive, geographically-based villages within cities and suburbs.
In today's fast-paced world, the nuclear family model no longer meets the diverse needs of individuals and families. Emotional and physical needs that were once provided by one’s village or family, like childcare, elder care, or food-sharing, have been depersonalized and commodified. Remodeled Love seeks to address this by creating an app that operates much like a dating platform, but with the purpose of connecting both individuals and families who share similar values and goals for creating mutually supportive relationships and communities.
The Nuclear Fusion app offers a unique approach to matching individuals and families based on shared values, interests, and lifestyles. Through a carefully designed multi-phase process designed for safety, users (not just families) can create profiles, search for compatible matches, engage in digital communication, and ultimately transition to in-person interactions. The app's emphasis on intentional relationship building, background checks, and security measures ensures a safe and nurturing environment for all users.
"The way many of us, especially in the west, are living by so-called ‘traditional family models’ is not working for anyone. Folks are tired and broke, and loneliness and burnout are on the rise. Our mission is to redefine family by promoting the formation of geographically-based villages and co-families, where individuals can find support, share resources, and experience the joys of communal living," said Jessica Daylover, the visionary behind Remodeled Love and Nuclear Fusion.
The Nuclear Fusion app transcends white, western, and colonial notions of family, and welcomes individuals and families from all walks of life. Whether seeking friendship, shared childcare responsibilities, or cohabitation, users can find like-minded individuals and families who align with their values and aspirations.
"We envision a world where people can experience the beautiful paradox of autonomy and freedom through mutual aid and community. By sharing resources, supporting one another, and fostering emotional intelligence and intentional relating, we can create interdependent environments that enrich our lives," added Levity.
“And this isn’t new or radical,” she reminded, “humans, especially non-white folks, have been living and surviving this way for thousands of years. What makes this app different, however, is that folks can build a chosen family based on shared core values, allowing adult children to break free of dysfunctional or toxic family environments while still receiving the benefit of living communally and inside tailor-made extended families.”
The app also includes education on how to build healthy relationships, foster nonviolent communication, and how to repair ruptures, which is the magic ingredient that will lead to sustainability.
Additionally, there will be courses on the history of colonialism and how communal ways of living were demolished as a means of oppression. Levity promises that, once funded and grown, Nuclear Fusion will uplift BIPOC by hiring BIPOC educators, offering free and sliding scale app upgrades, and having a board of directors with a majority non-white leaders.
To realize their vision, Remodeled Love has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds for the app's development. Contributions from backers will go towards the mapping phase, enabling the team to create a tangible product that can be presented to potential investors. Supporters of the campaign will also gain access to exclusive rewards and incentives. Currently the campaign is 70.8% funded with 26 days remaining to raise all funds (just under half the total campaign length).
For more information about Remodeled Love and to contribute to Nuclear Fusion, please visit bit.ly/nuclearfusionapp. Join the movement and help reshape the way we live, love, and build communities.
About Remodeled Love: Remodeled Love is a platform dedicated to expanding the cultural narrative on healthy relationships, love, and family. The Nuclear Fusion app was born out of their own need for village support--a need they witnessed on their platform from folks across the globe. What makes it unique is that it aims to connect individuals and families based on shared values, fostering emotionally intelligent and mutually supportive relationships. Remodeled Love seeks to empower individuals to break free from the constraints of chronic individualism and nuclear family living, and experience the benefits of communal support and connection.
Jessica Levity Daylover, Executive Producer
Our new e-book, "Polyamory and Parenthood: Navigating Non-Monogamy as Parents of Young Children" is now available for pre-order!
By Pre-Ordering this book, you are helping Remodeled Love and The Daylovers in the huge investment it took to produce this book, including: $6,000+ in childcare over 7 months, $300 to our Sensitivity Readers who made sure this book is as inclusive and accessible as possible, $600+ to our Copyeditor, $500 in digital media software, and countless lost wages because every "yes" to another opportunity was a "no" to this project.
When we became polyamorous in 2013, there were little to no resources to guide them. When we became parents five years later, we found even fewer discussions of polyamorous parenting. Since then, we have wanted to help other couples navigate where we struggled and share what we've learned. In 2020, we started the Remodeled Love podcast and social media page, where hundreds of thousands of folks have enjoyed our trademark raw humor and vulnerability. Above all, we sought to normalize healthy and ordinary expressions of polyamory, and the fruits it can bring when children enter the picture; this book grew from such efforts. Part personal narrative, part guidebook, this e-book shares our polyamorous journey, pregnancy, and the difficulties and triumphs of raising small children. We also tackle current topics within the world of polyamory such as hierarchy, couple's privilege, mononormativity, and more. This work speaks to the newly polyamorous, the poly-curious, as well as the experienced, and also contains a workbook section with journaling prompts for those embarking upon the amazing path of polyamrous parenting.
This book was edited by two sensitivity readers and contains image descriptions to maximize inclusion and accessibility.
And things to consider when hiring one
By Jessica Levity Daylover
Ever since I started making polyamory content last year, I’ve seen a lot of the major polyam accounts offering services like peer-to-peer support as well as “coaching”. I’ve also seen a lot of big accounts speak out against these things, though their positions are usually vague in reasoning. But since many of them who speak out against are licensed therapists, I can assume it’s because they’ve seen the harm in a bunch of unlicensed, under-educated fucktwats walking around causing harm to their vulnerable clients and then charging them for it. They’ve probably even seen some shit firsthand walking into their offices, and then they have to clean up the mess. (Being a part of the war between unlicensed, under-educated Midwives in Nevada and the rest of the birth community, I totally get it.)
Let’s be real-- there are few things more annoying than some untrained, disillusioned millennial calling themselves a “life coach”. Picture it: one of us basic white girls, wearing a flat-brimmed, neutral colored hat and overpriced Urban Outfitters (I know you know what I’m talking about); she somehow has 30,000 followers on Instagram (she’s hot and takes pretty pictures); she makes highly-filtered, cookie-cutter trendy reels, set to music. Does she ever really say anything of substance? No. But somehow she’s charging you $5000 for a “coaching program”, in which you’ll learn how to sell coaching programs for $5000.
*cough MLM cough*
And hey, guess what! She’s also available for one-on-one coaching where she’ll help you take a look at your life and show you the areas where you could be a better manifestor and boss babe (but don’t ask her what role whiteness plays in “the art of manifesting”, lest you break her “good vibes only” bubble).
At best she went through some self-accredited program, in which you can miraculously get “certified” in *sales pitch voice* ONE WEEKEND ONLY!
At worst she lacks all training and self-awareness, and spends her overpriced sessions projecting her own wounding onto you, offering incorrect and pushy advice instead of practicing reflective listening and asking you probing questions, and then gaslighting you when you call her out on some problematic behavior. She has no regulating board behind her, and without that, the only place to file a complaint is to write a review or speak your own testimony publicly. Capitalism will tell you, “if you don’t like her, just don’t support her”, leaving victims of her services in a place lacking any real justice.
I see the case against, I really do. But I’d like to offer now a case in support of peer-to-peer aid and coaching from our favorite content creators who feel called to offer it. And I offer this to you not just as someone who offers this service herself, but more as someone who uses this service and is deeply grateful for it.
At the end of my pregnancy and shortly after, I was (am still?) in some dark, painful growth periods on my polyamory journey. This path is like an onion...you know, layers and shit. Never ending. Always opening the door for personal growth, blah blah blah.
Because my family’s income falls inside the poverty level, I qualified for Medicaid (America’s socialized health insurance for us poors) while I was pregnant. What a fucking blessing. (In October during my second trimester I went through a really scary illness and didn’t have to hesitate to take myself to the ER in the middle of the night, *and* I got to opt into all the testing they wanted to do because I knew I didn’t have to pay for it. What a luxury. Yay, socialized medicine.)
Anyway, my mental health started to spiral, triggered mostly by my struggles inside several relationships. I found a prenatal therapist who was covered by Medicaid and I was super lucky to have a schedule flexible enough to always just take spots where she had cancellations (her client waitlist was actually 3+ months for those without the flexibility). I asked her if she supported polyamory, she said yes. But I could tell she didn’t fucking get it.
She never shamed me or anything like those horror stories we hear about actual licensed therapists harming their polyam and queer clients because they don’t know how to therapize outside the scope of the cis het monogamous capitalist patriarchy. But...it was clear she was mesmerized by the dynamics of polyamory, and each session felt like more of a salacious gossip fest than fucking therapy. It annoyed me a lot, and if I had been paying my own money for it, I would have quit.
There’s been a wave of young, queer, polyam folks getting their master’s degrees to become real therapists, and that’s fucking amazing. And many of them are even working to create deep change within how the APA educates students on handling these nuanced identities, but the change desperately needed hasn’t manifested yet across the board. And furthermore, what do people do when you’re not in network? What do people do when they’re uninsured? When the waitlists for the polyam therapists are 3+ months? When you don’t have the same skin color as the therapist you’ve been assigned? What if the therapist has never given birth or been a parent or knows even one ounce of the darkness of that very particular journey?
I always tell people who reach out to me for coaching via instagram or my podcast that they should seek support from the creator who they feel most aligned with. So often there’s some content creator, somewhere, consistently posting the shit you need to hear, when you need to hear it. That’s typically a sign for me that that’s the person I want to hire.
When I was at my darkest point, I reached out to Evita Sawyers (@lavitaloca34). That’s the creator who always seems to be preaching the Word to me. She’s queer, she’s polyamorous, she’s a MOTHER. Her personal wisdom means more to me than anything she could learn in a Master’s program sanctioned by the APA.
She scheduled me for just 2 days later, and I could pay $40 cash for a 30 minute session with her. Amazing.
I think I spent the first 5 minutes catching her up on the plot points of my story, as well as my inner turmoil, and in literally the first two minutes she asked me THE question I needed to be asked, and said THE affirmation I needed to hear. We spent the remaining 23 minutes just chatting-- two queer, polyamorous mamas, examining the times this particular lesson has occurred in each of our lives before, unpacking the personal mythology of it all, and just generally bonding in our shared wisdom. That session was invaluable to me, and it allowed me to take the next step I had desperately been resisting taking. I’d pay $40 a month just to be in the presence of someone as wise as Evita.
And there are many other polyam content creators I’m regularly in awe of-- who push me to new places, help me reflect on old beliefs, etc. And when I’m called, I hire the ones I feel called to heal with, and send tips in gratitude of content to others’ Venmos, because motherfuckers deserve to be paid for their time, regardless of their “accreditation”.
My point is: not supporting peer-to-peer services, or self-proclaimed polyamory coaches, is a very privileged stance. People have straight up told me to “find a real therapist”, but a bitch can’t afford one, okay?? And the ones I have had were the fucking worst when it came to the nuances of my identity. If I never waste another therapy session teaching my therapist about polyamory, while THEY charge ME for it, I’ll die slightly happier.
And trust me when I tell you how deeply ironic all of this is. In 2020 I left the world of coaching behind (I was a spiritual/intuitive coach who graduated from an intensive two-year program), and ended up launching @RemodeledLove, where my intention was merely to create content and share wisdom as a queer, polyamorous mama. So when my DMs started blowing up with requests for support or coaching, I was like, Okay, Universe, I see you.
I resisted it for a long time, but once I started working with people, I saw that the people hiring me were people who resonated with my content. I found myself using my coaching tools in a powerful way to share wisdom with my polyam brethren, and I could begin to release the imposter syndrome I felt.
I consider myself deeply lucky to have the training I have (the two year coaching program, plus a decade as an educator in many fields). I actually considered becoming a licensed counselor at one point, but ya girl is sitting on an evil amount of student loan debt from her fucking Bachelor’s degree, so I said fuck capitalism, and literally paid for my two-year program through trade (which is still a privilege because I have a fair amount of valuable skills to offer businesses within the realm of marketing).
Am I one of the “acceptable” freelance coaches because I am lucky enough to have some training? Does my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison (Go, Badgers) with a double major in Philosophy and Sociology and a minor in Gender/Sexuality make me qualified? You rarely even hear me talk about this shit (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my boujee, accredited background on @RemodeledLove).
And because of my extensive training, I have a line of ethics in my practice. My clients start all sessions with reminders that I am NOT a licensed therapist. I practice reflective listening and am constantly preambling phrases with “if this were me”, and “what this brings up for me”, and “in my personal experience”. Ask any of my regular clients and they’ll tell you that I am constantly saying “Remember that I am biased and always prone to projection, but, here’s what I’m seeing in this situation…”.
After I ask probing questions, I give examples from my personal journey, and then offer outside resources I think might take them further. I am often referring out to other people at the end of sessions when I can tell there is something happening outside of the scope of my wisdom. And when a client tells me they’re also in therapy, even better! -- let’s have an orgy of wisdom from all parties in support of your path. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest, is my motto.
I understand that a lot of these untrained “OMG YOU GUYS I’M A LIFE COACH NOW” folks do damage because they don’t do those things I just listed. But instead of speaking out against peer support, can we instead focus on educating people who might be interested in hiring a coach or peer support person? What types of questions should they be asking in the interview phase?
If you’re reading this right now and have more ideas about questions people should be asking their potential peer support and polyam coaches, please comment or DM! I’m going to start a resource list, so that we can focus on educating people who desire to hire outside a licensed therapist, instead of just closing down a whole avenue of desperately needed support.
I think I’ll end with this: I support both traditional therapy as well as peer support coaches, but I realize my biases play into my opinion and I am very open to being wrong.
I’m always open to being wrong.
But my bias for peer support isn’t because I offer this service, but because I need this service (and because I’ve been burned by traditional therapy, and don’t have Medicaid anymore). In fact, peer support groups have historically done more for me than any therapist ever has. Al-anon and several other 12 Step programs have been a lighthouse in some of the darkest chapters in my life so far. Al-Anon is where I finally dealt with the root of my codependence and, if you work with me, you’ll see so much of the wisdom of the 12 Steps in my practice. And though I never paid my sponsor for her time, you better believe I fucking would have. She was such an incredible source of unconditional love and guidance for me.
Anyway, this has been on my heart, and now it’s on my blog.
Thanks for reading.
Your Polyamorous Mama,
Jessica Levity Daylover
Support my work:
>> Paypal - email@example.com
>> Venmo - @jessica-levity
Listen to the fully produced version of this story here ^
Anatomy of a Polyam Man
Memoirs of a Weird Life
by Joseph Daylover
Since we started the podcast, we’ve gotten many interesting and profound pieces of feedback. Among those responses, some listeners wanted to hear more from me, my story, where I’m coming from. Jes, being the producer, gave me the writing prompt. Find the right angle and make it happen.
And so, as an enneagram 5, I thought it over, and over, and over again. What exactly, might I share, focus on, highlight? Well, I love storytelling, a fine piece of fiction. I dig character development, the arc of change humans experience across the years. I’ve talked about meeting Jes and becoming polyamorous, but what about the backstory? Surely there must have been earlier events that groomed me to become polyamorous. I’m talking about the pre-Jes era…
...was there ever such a time?
Reflecting on that period, I started making connections I wouldn’t have suspected right off. I want to take you back to my childhood in the Philly burbs, Las Vegas for my early twenties, and then Reno pre-Jes. I met her at 28, and up until then I never had a serious relationship. I spent most of my younger life quite unpartnered. The more I looked back, the more I found things uncommon, strange, and weird, not to mention a staggering aversion to tradition. And so with that I present to you “Anatomy of a Polyam Man” in 3 acts.
Before we dive in, a Disclaimer. I’m a straight, white, cisgendered, able bodied male. My experience always comes with acknowledging that privilege hugely factors into how the dice rolls out for me. The more we normalize acknowledging our privileges, the easier we might surrender them.
>> Act One: The East Coast
I grew up about twenty minutes down the freeway from Center City Philly. Norristown, P.A., where the row homes and twin houses populate the tight streets with cars parked on both sides. The ashy gray skies, the almost constant rain, the rolling green fields, the endless forests wrapping up the scattered urban grids--this was my world. My father worked as a middle manager for Pepperidge Farm while my Mom stayed at home and did odd jobs. We were the quintessential picture of domestication and the middle class. As the fifth of six kids, I learned early on how easy you get lost in the crowd. John, Matt, Paul, Joey! my mom would often mutter, forgetting which kid she happened to be disciplining.
As a true child of the 80s, I learned of sex from Madonna’s music videos. Borderline, Like a Virgin, Open your Heart, Like a Prayer, Papa Don’t Preach--each look of hers brought something equally different, provocative. I didn’t know what sex was, but I knew Madonna represented some kind of gateway. You had to be lucky to catch a few of these videos air, when no parents were around. My Mom had banned MTV after Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” video.
I went to Catholic school through eighth grade and remember talking to friends on the bus about sex. They spoke like it was all normal, and I was freaked out. Maybe it was Catholic guilt. Maybe I just lacked confidence. Maybe I was scared of rejection and was scared of what my parents would think. Maybe I was afraid of sex. I don’t know. My older siblings had girlfriends and boyfriends with seemingly no problems, but something blocked me. Had there been language about asexuality and non-partnered people back then--that this was a legitimate thing to be--I might not have felt so weird. Not that I was those things, but I might have claimed them and felt more confident. Having a name for what you are or think you are matters, whether it’s accurate or not.
In high school I was the angsty introvert, and unfortunately not an interesting one with talents or passions. I wore band tee shirts and ripped jeans and listened to head banger music. I worked, played a little baseball, and hung out with different groups of friends. I got decent grades and mostly stayed out of trouble. Terribly self conscious, I stayed sexually inactive. I was the likeable but weird dude who didn’t date. Every one of my older siblings had more rebellious streaks. I remember each of them at some point storming outta the house in a heated argument with my parents. Sadly, I never reached that level of subversion. Like many themes of my adult life, my disruptive tendencies would peak late.
Outside of my world, I recognized this cultural backdrop, people following a similar, traditional script. Maybe they were wild teenagers, but eventually they settled down for the comforts of career and family. Tradition declared you should marry young, and that you were certain of where your life should end up before you were thirty. I wouldn’t have to shake up that script, though. Life would do that for me and all of us.
In ‘97 my mother died suddenly in her sleep of an arrhythmia. You don’t think things like this can happen to you until they do. My mother’s passing devastated my family, sent shock waves through the Church community where she was active. All of this forced me to confront the realities of this world at an early age. A year after my mother’s death, I had to face that question of what to do with my life.
That summer, our whole family took a trip to Vegas, Utah, the Grand Canyon, and then Phoenix. I had never been West and the desert’s empty mysteriousness spoke to me. It felt like the antidote to the green dampness I knew growing up. I remember the golden landscape of the desert stretching for miles uninterrupted. Oddly, it felt full of promise. It offered a mysterious sense of potential that I couldn’t describe. My father, brothers and sisters and me smoked cigarettes at rest stops and gazed at the long horizon. It called me to explore it.
Before I graduated high school, I found myself enjoying what I read for English class, things like Shakespeare and J. D. Salinger. I actually dug writing papers. I started to notice and develop a taste for TV shows and films that shot for social commentary--like the Twilight Zone, Pulp Fiction, American Beauty. I started noticing the art of storytelling and felt like I should be a writer. Studying English--the most impractical of majors, therefore made sense. On my Dad’s suggestion, I applied to UNLV and thought Las Vegas the most intriguing place to move for school.
I headed West in 2000. Unfortunately, the vibe of UNLV proved stale. Turns out I had chosen a commuter school. I had trouble making friends. The desert also provided a stark, noticeably more intense feeling of isolation. I went for long walks, trekking the 2 miles from the campus to the Strip. I liked my classes but I was still alone, still self conscious. Having made no real connections, I considered this experiment a failure and returned to the east coast.
I struggled being alone, but it offered me the space to find out who I really was. A newer version of me started to brew. I started writing a book. I bought a keyboard and taught myself piano. I worked out and began cultivating a stronger sense of self. I kept up with classes at the community college, and after three semesters, I decided to give Vegas another try, uncertain of where everything would lead but knowing this was the correct path.
>> Act Two: Vegas, baby.
My first sexual experience was a polyamorous one, and it taught me a lot about myself, perhaps especially so as a late bloomer. Her name was Steph. She had dark eyes and pasty white skin, a bleached pixie cut, and piercings in her ears, tongue, and nipples and clit--I would later find out. We met while applying for a job selling alarm systems that we would both end up quitting. We bonded over the absurdity of this venture and wanting to get high instead. I wound up at her place buying some weed, where I met her 3 year old son and partner/baby daddy, who seemed cool enough. At one point he spoke rather casually of some other chick he was talking to online. Steph never said the words open relationship or polyamory. I gathered that for her it didn’t need defining. It was just the natural way to be.
I didn’t question anything when we started hanging out, going for drives, and making out in my hot-boxed car. We had long talks. This girl had trauma, and I’ve always been blessed and cursed with an ability to listen without judgement. I was an inexperienced academic, and here was this quintessentially gritty Vegas chick, a former stripper who had had all kinds of crazy sex. She’d lived a lifetime already at twenty two. One time, dropping her off, she told me she wanted to spend the night at my place. Fuck yeah, this was it.
I was as excited as I was nervous. I didn’t tell her this was my first time. She came over and we got high, started making out, but once we got into the bedroom something happened. Main Generator failure. Don’t get me wrong, I was into everything but couldn’t power up my warp drive. We tried all kinds of things but nothing worked. Steph was totally cool about it. “Hey sometimes dudes get nervous. It happens,” she said.
So we slowed it down, smoked some more and talked. We were naked in bed, sitting up against the wall. She told me she used to live in this house where pretty much everyone was fucking each other and out in the open. She talked about how she loved eating pussy. Tell me more about that, I said. She described it in great detail and it was the hottest thing I had ever heard. As she talked about her last girlfriend and the sex they had I found myself with hugest hard-on of my life. I asked how she liked her pussy eaten, and while she tells me this, she’s stroking me slowly, in no rush. Soon, we started making out again, and I worked my way down there, remembering everything she said. She ended up squirting in my face, and from there we proceeded to fuck her for four hours. It was amazing. Turns out sex wasn’t so scary after all. After that I knew three things for certain:
So the last two things seemed like uncommon lessons for your first time getting laid. But then again, nothing in my life ever happened by the book, so why should this?
Group sex wouldn’t happen with Steph, but we had a causal relationship lasting a year. We didn’t go on dates. We smoked bowls, I listened to her vent about all kinds of crazy shit, and then we had sex. She wanted a relationship and I strung her along while developing some feelings. I realized I couldn’t be with her. We were too different. Eventually it fizzled. My first girlfriend wasn’t really a girlfriend, my first relationship a shadow of one. I was fine with that, though, as something committed kinda freaked me out even though the loneliness was worse.
Steph brought me out of my shell, though. And though I wouldn’t be sexually active all the time, I did get myself laid and noticed some trends. Most of them were bisexual, and/or single mothers--interesting types to say the least. And none of it went by any normal script. Vegas itself was anything but the standard experience. Nothing closed. In a twenty four town, everyone worked odd schedules and stayed out late, sometimes until the sun came up. Staying out at nightclubs or bars and then going out for breakfast was quite normal. Sometimes I went to class on little to no sleep. I drank like a fish, smoked every day, and loved living in a town with no clocks. In the middle of a desert, you can feel like the outside world doesn’t exist. Weirdly enough, it felt like just the life for me.
This whole time I did well in school and literature and fiction workshops became my sole focus. I wanted to contribute something solid to the literary canon. Looking back, some of my earliest short stories contained polyamorous couples, though I didn’t have the language for it. All I had was the open relationship model handed down from the sexual revolution. After graduation, I stayed another year before heading to Reno for the Master’s. I left Vegas in 2004. On the drive up to Reno, I had a distinct feeling like the rest of my life awaited. So strange, right? I couldn’t explain it, but then again, I couldn’t ever explain much of what happened to me.
>> Act Three: The Biggest Little City
My romantic life sputtered along. I dated but didn’t have any girlfriends lasting longer than a month. I desperately wanted a partner by now and couldn’t figure out why it never happened. Maybe I was afraid to put myself out there, risk rejection. Maybe I didn’t meet the right people. Maybe it had something to do with a path that I could not yet foresee.
I graduated with a Master’s by now and settled into a life of part time teaching Freshman composition and service industry work. I congratulated myself that I had never worked a 40-hour, 9-5 type job. I didn’t want marriage or family, so things like a stable career with benefits mattered little. Besides, I considered all of that an unfair trade off for the majority of my youthful hours. So I took the trade-off of living on a meagre income of stipends and tips for the long stretches of time off to feel like a real human being.
At this point I thought about moving to San Francisco and living the beat writer life. I could just picture it. I’d emerge from my Victorian studio flat, wearing a thrift store sport coat and stylish fedora. I light a cigarette and stroll along Post street in rambling fog. Should I head to the jazz lounge for happy hour or opt for the corner store cafe and people watch while the regulars come and go gassing about their latest art project, their newest short story paraphrased in a dazzling display of impromptu spoken word?
Anyways, I liked Reno but had one foot out of the door. In a few months I would meet Jes and fall in love with her and Reno. But before that could happen, something unforeseen would change everything.
On a sunny afternoon in August, 2008, I sat with my buddy Scott on the patio of the Sierra Tap House overlooking the river. We had beers and riffed about artsy stuff like usual. Out of nowhere, Scott, a fellow writer and actor, said, “I’m thinking of starting a Theatre company, and I want you to be on the board.”
I thought about this before answering. Keep in mind, we’re a few months into the Great recession, and Reno already had a fair number of local theatres for a small city.
“What do you think?” Scott asked again.
“I think you’re crazy,” I told him. “I’m in.”
Now, I had always liked Theatre. I read a ton of play scripts in college and enjoyed a good performance. But I couldn’t tell you why I said yes. What did a board member do, exactly? Something told me to trust it.
Scott had worked out an arrangement with the local pastor of the Methodist church, the oldest in Reno, a stone building with ivy going up the sides and a legit bell tower. We rented an office on the second floor and stored all of our shit there: backdrops and flats, lighting and sound equipment, tools, furniture, and costumes. We performed Fridays and Saturdays in the main sanctuary, hoisted our sets in and out each week for month-long productions.
As a board member, I attended meetings, voted on shit, volunteered box office, and then got drawn into performing, stage managing, lighting--all aspects of the show. I loved the bond between cast and crew. You spend four five nights a week with these people, which sometimes amounted to more than with one’s family. You hung out at bars and greasy spoon diners late at night. Theatre people are weird, but in a way that jibed with me. They speak in foreign accents completely at random, have no problem playing the most ridiculous characters, and are ready to play at a moment’s notice. They’re also super gay, too. I mean this lovingly. They’re completely unreserved and sassy, but also affectionate. They’re cuddly and seem prone to open relationships. I saw versions of polyamory in the theatre, older couples who were open, and the early twenty somethings playing the field. You always sat back and watched with curiosity who might hook up on a given production.
I was here for all of this. I always thought of myself as kinda gay, not sexually, but in all the other ways just mentioned. The Theatre gave it expression, made it normal, suggested it was the rest of the world that was weird, not me. I also loved the productions, too, how they mirrored society and critiqued it. I felt fulfilled in all aspects: creatively, socially, and communally, with how the community grew around you.
The second show we ever did was “Waiting for Godot”. I loved its dark existentialism, its ridicule of institutions like the Church. The pastor of the Methodist Church where we performed found this amusing, us performing Waiting for Godot in his sanctuary. He had been an actor in his day and generally supported us with a good, curious attitude. One morning, though, I got a call from Scott.
“Hey man, the church wants to have a meeting about the play.”
“Oh, like now?” I said, groggy from a night of partying.
“Yeah, meet me there in an hour.”
An hour later, I walked into a packed Church. I found Scott, asked him what the hell was going on.
“They want to talk about the play,” he said. I gave him a startled look, realizing this wasn’t a meeting with just the Pastor, but before the eyes of the populace. “Fuck.” I started getting nervous. Eventually we took the stage with the Pastor and a few board members. We fielded questions from a nervous crowd who didn’t like that we were doing an anti-Christian play in their house of worship. The pastor backed us up, assured the masses we had only artistic intentions, but the whole thing felt like art itself was on trial. Godot--a character who arguably didn’t exist and represented God--rather ironically, was on trial.
We defended ourselves as best we could, and eventually did two more productions there. Seascape, an Edward Albee play about Evolution, eventually earned us the boot. My first foray into the performing arts brought everything in my life full circle: the conformity of the Church up against the artistic freedom to express oneself. Clearly I had taken a side, a side that confirmed my love for what’s weird over what’s standard, an affinity for the bizarre over the everyday.
The Theatre found another venue and we kept it going. Eventually I presided over the board when Scott moved to New York. I wrote grants, produced donation campaigns, performed occasionally, ran the bar, and became a constant gardener of the arts. In this time, we built our own Theatre and moved three times in ten years, each time to a bigger, more legitimate space. Throughout all the fundraisers, the constructions of venues, the parties, the constant stream of about six productions per year, I was amazed how everyone rallied to keep the place going. We survived the recession, gentrification, and now the pandemic. It was a total communal effort and from all of this, I learned how to believe. In myself. In a tribe. A community. When we nailed sets together late into the evening hours, or toasted with shots after opening night, we testified to a belief in something greater. We believed in the show, but in order to keep the show going, you need a greater driving force. I’m not saying it’s a spiritual thing necessarily, but rather an impulse that prompts humans to do zany but thoughtful shit that bonds them together.
The Theatre seemed to unite the strange, disparate threads of my life. I can’t imagine my world without the dry rumblings of Mass, the tradition of my youth and early wayward years, the reflective tendency that comes from being alone, the hedonistic Vegas life, the vastly creative potential of the stage, my wonderfully open and accepting and very queer tribe, my adopted state of Nevada--the strangest of homes, the extended time off afforded by academics allowing me to build real things like community, and of course, the soul opening potential of polyamory. It all gelled together into a weirdly, decidedly not traditional tapestry. Looking back, I don’t regret the loneliness of my youth. Those years made me who I was. They set me up just right for the dream life I would live. It’s tempting to think about what I would do differently, but I resist, not wanting to risk having a different life now. Always better peak late, anyway.
All of this isn’t to say that tradition’s bad. It just wasn’t for me. And I don’t think conventional ways and the polyamorous life are mutually exclusive. I speak only for myself and anyone who connects with my weird ways. When I talk to others about the early realizations of their own polyamory, they often report feeling weird or strange because they didn’t know it was a thing. This was how I felt my entire life, and so the polyam way makes all the more sense.
Throughout all of the confusion and doubt, sometimes you know right away what your path is, without thinking. I said yes to the Theatre. It eventually led me to my tribe, to my mistress of the stage, to a family. Before Jes I hadn’t imagined getting married or having kids, but our version of it made perfect sense. So I would come back to some version of a traditional life, but in my own way, my own time. I married at 33 and became a first time Dad at 38 in true late bloomer fashion. Early into our relationship, Jes spoke of building a sanctuary for our growing tribe, a piece of land where we could all live, house senior dogs, grow our own food and live sustainably. Does that sound like the life for you? She said.
I didn’t hesitate to shake my head slowly in agreement.