“I realized I made a mistake, when I wrote that craigslist ad about what I was looking for,” she said. “When I wanted someone to come to the farm. I didn’t really need help with the farm work. What I actually wanted was a sister wife.”
We were standing in her yard, between her farmhouse and the trailer that my spouse and I stayed in. The river was nearby, and everything felt so alive. The trees, the wind, the earth under our feet.
My spouse and I were staying at her farm temporarily, hired in a sort of work trade for just the end of summer. We had been homeless, and it was great to settle down into a place for more than a few days. My spouse milked the goat, I helped process the milk, and I learned so much in a short time about animals, freedom, water, what people say vs what’s real.
I was surprised the farmer brought up wanting a sister wife. I cautiously heard her out.
“You wouldn’t need to have sex with my husband, necessarily,” she continued. “But someone to have over for tea, talk with, share life with.”
“Wow, ok,” I said. “That sounds pretty good. I would be happy to have tea with you.”
I looked at her. She’s ten or more years older than me, and a lonely lady, to be sure. She really needed people, but had very low people skills. I enjoyed learning about her style, her home which her husband had built himself, her projects. I admired her weavings, tasted her tomato sauce, harvested blackberries with her. She taught me about some of the plants.
We had some strange things in common. Like me, she also was half-Mexican and had grown up with a lot of oppression. But unlike me, she hated the Mexican side of her. She saw it as backwards and clung to her whiteness.
Like me she was fat, but she didn’t love her body and love her fat, like I love my body and love my fat. She didn’t see herself as unconditionally valid. Unfortunately, she lived with standard ways of seeing health and bodies that are poison to me.
She was a witch, as I am a witch, and in a way, I liked her very much. At the same time, she was my landlord, and I was afraid of her.
Would I like to be a sister wife? A popular tv show showed that possibility to many people. I never saw the show, but I’m familiar with open relationship and many ways of doing non-monogamy.
Being a sister wife in particular has never appealed to me, but I like community, and I like sex. I’ve fantasized about harem life, in a cartoonish way.
So who knows. If one day my spouse was lost to me, it’s a mystery, what situations I might find myself in. The world is full of possibilities.
As for wife, I’m not exactly a lady. I’m a queer enby femme, these days. My spouse has never called me wife, but spouse. But who knows–maybe one day I will be an actual lady. I could go undercover as a woman, for some reason, or might I somehow turn into a full on woman? Stranger things have happened.
Not sure I was destined to be this witch’s sister wife. But tea seemed possible, and I’m open. The fear in my body, I wouldn’t work out until later.
The husband farmer was quiet, bearded, burly, and smoked cigarettes by his shed sometimes. He wasn’t supposed to smoke. He seemed lonely and rather miserable also. The lady farmer almost never left the property. The husband left the farm often in his pickup truck, running to town for this or that.
We didn’t talk much, but I sort of liked the husband. Mostly I gave him a lot of space. He was a white guy, and he mentioned toward the beginning of our stay that we were there for his wife. If there was conflict about how to do things on the farm, I was to side with her and do things her way. I appreciated the clarity, and I stayed away from the husband.
Making cider was the only significant time we came together. I was intrigued by the beautiful wooden cider press. He showed it to me one day, and I ooo-ed and ah-ed. I liked seeing the modifications he’d made to strengthen it.
“How much did it cost?” I asked.
He’d bought it as a kit years previous, and he couldn’t remember how much it cost.
We talked about apples, mycelium, in the soil cellular communication. He looked so beautiful in his pride, with his cider press. The press had actually been out since my spouse and I arrived a couple weeks previous. Obviously he liked the press and enjoyed cider.
“Can I take your picture, with the press?” I asked.
I’d already photographed the press, but I wanted to include the farmer too.
The farmer didn’t respond, and I thought he didn’t hear me.
“Can I take your picture, with the press?” I asked again louder.
Again the farmed didn’t reply, and I realized he was ignoring my question. I had the photo lined up, but I didn’t take it.
Wow, this person is weird. Saying no was too hard for him to do. Talk about communication problems. This man was not for me, and his wife wasn’t either. This farm was not for me.
Soon after a huge conflict blew up, between the lady farmer and me and my spouse. Fun time was over. The farmers never had us over for dinner, and my would-be sister wife and I never even had tea. The huge conflict happened when the husband was away for a week, visiting his kids from a previous marriage.
The conflict pertained to water, and I won’t get into it. But it showed me how fucked the power was on that farm, and how the lady farmer and I could never get along long term.
I was afraid of her, and she was angry that I was afraid of her, which made me more afraid of her. It was a bad feedback loop. Our problems did not play well together.
Of course, she would be the prized, dearest sister wife. I would be far subordinate. She lived in the beautiful strawbale house her husband made for her. Who was I, but a fatter, younger witch in the trailer, trying to process goat milk skillfully in too small a space, with meager materials. I was told to reuse the paper filters, then blamed when the milk went sour.
My bright, kind willingness to show up and do love with her was met with disorganization, hot and coldness, judgment, impatience, and maybe jealousy. Yes, I am brilliant, beautiful, and partnered with a creative, kind enby spouse who’s not stuck in repressed dudeness.
I’m often alone, but I’m rarely lonely. I can feel all sorts of emotions, but I’m one of the happiest people I know. And I wasn’t stuck on this farm by the river in a small town with a bunch of hicks.
Afterward I thought a lot about how people build their own prisons and live in them. A lot of people are stuck in their own dream. Yes, the house was beautiful, well insulated, and built with lumber that the husband had milled himself, from local trees. But the farmers had created their own hell.
I’m happy we got out. I’m happy that my core value is freedom. At any time, I can pack my bags and go. Not that fleeing is my main solution. I’m a lover and value relationship and staying a while.
“Hey, honey,” I said to my spouse recently, as we were going somewhere in the car. “What if I had had sex with the dude farmer, last year? What if I really had become the sister wife, and we were still saying out on the farm?”
My spouse listened to me, always curious what I’m thinking about.
“You know the lady farmer said I didn’t need to have sex with her husband, necessarily,” I added. “That means maybe I could have.”
“Oh, I thought she didn’t want you to have sex with him,” my spouse said.
“I think she was open to it,” I said. “What a different life that would be.” I pondered that beautiful, horrible farm. “I didn’t have any interest in that guy. But maybe having sex with him would be ok. Ok for housing.”
My spouse drove thoughtfully.
“I guess that would make me a whore,” I continued. “Yes, I am a whore. Do you like me that way?”
“Yes, I like you very much,” he said. He touched my leg as he drove. “You are a very good whore.”
“Thank you,” I said. “I always wish to be a good whore for you.”
Being a sister wife, the pecking order must be important. If I knew my role, I could yes or no that.
For now, I’m happy to live in a little family with my spouse. We manage our erotic energies in the ways that make sense to us. I wish for a bigger family, but there are many ways to have community.