A Letter to My Partners

How I found the truth in the cliché “you can’t help who you fall in love with”



The push and pull of watching as Sam went through an intense job interview process in the new year brought a feeling of urgency and a bit of dread. We all knew that Sam might find a job outside of Los Angeles and was not in a position to turn it down. I was not glad when the jobs did not materialize. It’s true, however, that I was curious what it might mean if the three of us had another few months or a year together in one place.

I definitely felt we were still learning about each other, trying to understand what it meant to be calling each other “boyfriend” and “partner.” My friends noticed the shift in my tone. “So now you’re all boyfriends?” one asked. “How does that work?”

“I have no idea,” I said. “We’re figuring that out as we go.”

“Good luck with that,” she said, not unkindly. Was there luck involved, do you think? I have moments when I believe in serendipity, wondering why we meet certain people at certain times. They are not lessons per se, but vital elements that make us more well-rounded. People move in and out of our lives. They make their impact and travel on, or they collide and intertwine with us and some kind of cosmic dust rubs off and turns us into something shimmery and new. We’re transformed.

Some of this metaphysical mumbo jumbo disintegrated when you had a job interview in the late spring, Sam. When you wrote Ryan and I in the middle of the night in June to say that you had been offered a great job—thousands of miles away—a pain shot through me at the exact moment that I smiled for you. I burst into tears while feeling so proud. I know we all shed more tears over the next several days, afraid of what would come next.

It was only a few weeks later, not long before we packed up Sam’s apartment, before Ryan and I would get on a plane to see Sam in his new home, that I was on the phone with my mom and finally explained to her how the three of us were all partners. In her usual way, she sounded slightly confused, but finally she said, “I can’t say I understand. But I can tell this person makes you both happy. And that’s all that matters.” And then the subject was changed.

She was right, though. That was all that mattered. And it’s really all that matters now.

We all know it’s not easy to be three people involved in what ends up amounting to a variety of different relationships. Perhaps that is the understatement of the year, but I say it to remind us of the beauty that comes from the complexity. This hasn’t been a cakewalk—especially these last few months, as distance, emotions, logistics, and other issues have made us all reassess each other, ourselves, and how we exist together, near and far. No matter the ultimate outcome, however, I know just how much you both mean to me, separately and together. I still think of drinking gin and playing croquet in the summer heat, Sam meowing in mock anger, Ryan pretending to be a mouse nibbling cheese, the three of us entangled on the couch watching TV, watching the rise and fall of your chests in bed in the middle of the night.

No, we’re never going to be on a Jumbotron. And I doubt any of us cares. But I want you to know I am not afraid of what comes next. I am not done drawing this map.

Love, Mikel