HAVANA TIMES — Woody Allen once said that “the heart is a very flexible organ”, and I agree with him in every sense. A colleague at Havana Times gave me a compilation of essays on free love by 19th and 20th century thinkers, put together by Osvaldo Baigorria.
These different interpretations of amorous relationships stem from profound and philosophical reflections, where each author exposes their point of view on the matter or their personal experiences. Reading them has helped me perceive certain aspects of a relationship involving a very close friend of mine who has three partners.
My friend has been living with a musician for more than ten years. The two of them are artists and need their own, personal space for creative work. They share the responsibility of caring for their home and raising their kid.
They have very pronounced – and I fear irreconcilable – political and other differences which bring about arguments they simply cannot resolve. They are bound by strong, affective ties – they even maintain a healthy sex life – but that isn’t enough for her.
She has been in her second relationship for a long time also. There is mutual respect and admiration in this partnership. They have similar ideas about literature – he is a writer, like her – and they even help each other proofread and edit their books. They also share classical music and painting tastes. She tells me that, sexually, this man is much more passionate and creative than the first. He likes isolation and dislikes going out (almost like a hermit). This doesn’t please her much and limits her perspectives with him some.
From time to time, she goes out with Pablo, a younger, adventurous, charismatic and charming man. They go out dancing, to catch a movie or simply stroll around town. The energy they project together is both healthy and contagious. You could call them lover-friends, for their relationship is chiefly grounded in camaraderie. They talk about everything, without any kind of prejudice (as he knows about the other men in her life). He is also a more incisive and receptive reader of her works. Her experiences with the three afford her different outlooks, and all of them complement each other through different projects, though separately.
Seeing her with each of her partners (I know them all), I see that one cannot place love in a straitjacket, that there are unexplored possibilities, options right in front of us which we do not take advantage of, mired as we are by stupid prejudices and other vestiges of the institution known as “marriage”, an institution founded, most of time, on deceit, conventions and social convenience, an institution which is an affront on the true aspirations of human beings and hampers individual initiative, tying us to one person our entire lives (in a universe that is enormous).
My friend has told me she is aware of the shortcomings of her different relationships, that there are differences and things that cannot be changed, that feelings can be hurt and jealousy arise, but that nothing in life is perfect. Everyone chooses their prison-freedom as they can. It’s good to be able to break such schemes. No one is bound to anyone, save through a free choice.