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The American Lovers: South Dakota II

A message comes through from Rapid City. Rapid city romance. This is the second of a story in 2 parts: The American Lovers, South Dakota Part I

“I’ve been sleeping with your dread under my pillow. And sometimes on my chest. It’s itchy. You got into my blood, woman. In a good way. :)”

I hold on to the wheel and steer towards him.

I crave him constantly and have to prevent myself from hounding him. It barely works. I dream of Rapid City. Rapid City romance.

We have our first power struggles over email. I tease him for starting to smoke cigarettes again. He repeats sweet, sexy, desirous things. We tell each other stories. Foryst talks about his dreams, how once his daughter is on her own he will leave Rapid City and travel the world, hitchhiking and Couchsurfing. 

I live a version of his dream (though no hitchhiking) for the next 7 years, and will, inshallah, for 7 after this. 

He does not.

He mentions, more than once in many ways, that he does not want a relationship. I am too busy reassuring him that I do not either to check his definitions. 

I’m in New York. Kentucky. Tennessee. He’s in Rapid City.

We get to know each other. Light and dark. We talk about him coming to Burning Man. We talk about another visit before this one even commences. He says things I can’t forget. 

I call him on his drinking. I tell him he’ll end up alone. He quotes Bukowski.

“there are worse things

than being alone

but it often takes

decades to realize this

and most often when you do

it’s too late

and there’s nothing worse


too late”

I soak thai chili peppers in a bottle of anejo tequila and jalapenos in a bottle of blanco for 10 days in the trunk of my car as I drive back towards him. If I can’t beat him I’ll join him. I’ll wow him. I’ll outdo him. I build my alcohol tolerance by drinking regularly to be able to keep up with him and even overtake him.

Photo of the view of Black Hills from the highway

I drive through the flat plains I’ll now forever associate with him. An ocean of coarse brown grass, the wind texturing ripples into it, leading slowly into the rise of the Black Hills like the slick black backs of porpoises nudging their way out of the wintering water.

I learn the tribal boundaries. The dialects. I practice the Sioux words that he has taught me, learned from living in the region. I make him watch the show Deadwood. He loves it. I approach Rapid City and my Rapid City romance.

I run his astrology. Sun sign Capricorn 4 to my Cancer 4. He is a group of merry-makers embarking in a large canoe on the magic little lantern-lit lake at the resort. He doesn’t believe in astrology, he says, but he also says…

“I LOVE that we are exact opposite on whatever system they’ve devised. Two halves of a whole. What is it with us? God damn. Yes, keep it coming.”

We talk a few times on the phone. I call him from my friend’s porch in Kentucky, sipping mint juleps over crushed ice in the moonlight. It is special, sweet, but distant. The smell of bourbon still takes me to that quiet, strange beat. Lexington feels a long way from Rapid City romance.

Photo of black fence lined road in Lexington, Kentucky

He slips away. There’s a pattern of hot and cold. I am lonely. I fuck someone else, protected. He fucks someone else. He gets tested. He’s negative for all. He tells me without me wanting to know that it was fun, but not nearly as hot as it was with me. He tells me it reinforced the connection he feels loving on me. Whatever it is, the thing that can’t be put into words, the connection we have… he tells me it is so very apparent now. I buy merino wool long underwear, bracing for the winter wind.

I buy a portable vaporizer and too much weed.

Driving through the windy plains in December, I stop at the Corn Palace on my way to visit him again, driving West. It’s a palace made of corn. Another of South Dakota’s tourist stops, random kitsch constructions built by people who couldn’t for the flatness feel that the land alone already has something. I don’t go inside, I make a beeline for Rapid City, I don’t want to spend any time I could be with my Rapid City romance.. It’s a poor choice.

Photo of the Corn Palace

This is the second visit.

It is uplifting and heartbreaking.

We drink too much. I’m high too much.

We don’t fuck enough. We don’t make enough love. We don’t kiss enough.

We don’t listen.

I overstay my welcome.

I’m there for 20 days. He has to work for some of them. I stay in his house alone with the cat. Sometimes I go to the gym, or try out the local yoga studios. I also work, online. His brother is in and out of jail. Foryst quits smoking cigarettes, and is moody and testy from nicotine withdrawal. He has family obligations. He doesn’t want to meet them. Sometimes, he uses me as an excuse.

I cook. Sometimes I have dinner ready when he gets home. He takes some for lunch at work, and loves not having to do it himself, but resents that he feels entangled due to the gift. I’m doing it out of boredom and love, not trying to trap him. It feels like he’s painting me differently. I feel damned to slip into a deep groove he has patterned. He is right that the weeks feel a little like playing house. He pulls away. I haven’t had a house in some time.

We drink every night. I don’t do yoga. We sway, holding each other, in the kitchen full of houseplants and warmth. He sits on the floor and plays guitar and sings to me.

Forest superimposed over Foryst sitting on the floor playing guitar

He wraps my hair. Rapid City romance.

Forest superimposed over Foryst as he wraps my hair

He says things he doesn’t remember. He says it could last a very, very long time.

The house is just a small thing with shitty siding, on a curbless side-road in Rapid City, not too far from Rapid Creek, but there is pure magic in his house. Maybe it’s the residue of him. He seeped into the place and sings from the grains and pores of the structure. His experience and glow tinged with dangerous tidal undercurrents is palpable. I feel like I am inside him. I want him inside me. It makes me so shy I fold up.

I send him a stupid email. 

“Please don’t be scared of how much I like you. It doesn’t come with a side of the usual. I don’t want to possess or control you. I want to pleasure you and appreciate you and pamper you and love on you. And then leave. I don’t like the fear looming over this experience. Can we talk about everything? Sober. In person. So we’re crystal clear. I feel like I’m getting slowly backed into a role I can’t play. Part of me wanted to pack up and bolt this morning, motivated by the desire to keep myself desirable to you … and a ‘fuck you for thinking you own my heart and could break it’

*Right now* I just want to suck your cock.  I want to get you hard between my lips and feel the heat and the throb.  Grab my hair and show me how you like it.  I want to feel you explode on my tongue and taste your cum at the back of my throat.”

We work it out, only to get into it again.

I sense dishonesty, omission. I prod him to get him to tell me things. He pulls away. He treats me like a couchsurfer.

With him by my side as tour guide I discover Rapid City. Riding around in his truck. We visit Art Alley. The statues of the presidents. Dinosaur park. The food scene.

Rapid City Romance

I discover the Black Hills. Harney Peak. Mount Rushmore. The School of Mines. I see the museum here, all the pretty rocks we look at together. Marveling over their age and composition. I see the area shaped by mining. The people bright and connected, in the way mining communities are. I see the interconnection and tension between indigenous and long-term resident and new resident. Rapid City romance.

Photo of Black Elk Peak, Harney Peak, Black Hills, South Dakota

He shows me photos of himself as a miner, working in the gold mine. Standing in the elevator at the bottom of the shaft. He looks young, in overalls and a hardhat, and covered in grease. It’s exactly what you think it would look like. He tells me stories of his time mining there. Of the dirt. Of the grime. The hard physical labor. The friendship and trust. Of the mine running out of gold. Of the one time he almost died. I get wet, but he’s not in the mood.

I’m filled with anxiety. Something happens. I don’t learn until later that it is the first text from his future partner, a text from someone he values so much more than me that it will take him months to see that she really wants him. 

So much potential but our defense mechanisms line up perfectly.

So very many things within us line up perfectly. I watch him masturbate. Barely any movement. His fingers encourage the energetic flow through his cock rather than providing physical stimulation.  I love that he is wired that way. Almost always we have sex in missionary position, lips locked together, motionless. I crave variety, but he brings me back to tenderness and love every time, while pushing me away emotionally. I am torn.

I’m there for his birthday. Christmas. I’m there to drive his daughter places when he can’t. I’m there for her Christmas concert. We all wear nice clothing. I smile and meet people. I’m there to see the life he isn’t quite proud of. I meet him where he is, despite knowing he is more.

Blurry red neon sign of the South Dakota Stonegrowers Assn

New Years is a disaster. We finish the hot pepper-infused bottles of tequila and start up on a new bottle of anejo I buy from the local liquor store. As is usual, I’m buying the best they have and it’s not regularly purchased, there’s a thick layer of dust on the bottle and the box. The guy behind the counter looks confused, and Foryst slightly ashamed.

He shows me all his redneck things.

His grandfather’s rifle. The second freezer full of meat. His safe. His motorcycle. We almost take a ride, blind drunk, but it won’t start. 

I threaten to leave, based on his disinterest for me. He begs me not to, if not for him, for the sake of his daughter, don’t make a scene that would be difficult for him to explain. It’s difficult, but I bite my tongue and think about her telling me that he gets drunk alone and one time tried to get her to help him move the refrigerator in one of his drunken manic home improvement binges.

I stay.

I sneak off to quietly puke. He’s too drunk to get hard. We fall asleep separately. Rapid City romance.

There is tenderness, and love, the next two days. He takes me out and lets me shoot his grandfather’s gun. The range is just a place locals pull off the road and shoot. Not sure if it’s legal or not. 

A forest superimposted over me holding Foryst's grandfather's rifle, standing in the snow

I leave. 

He says more things I can’t forget. I gain weight. I tell him I gained weight. He responds:

“I have a confession to make…. it’s not your body that turned me on in the first place. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was…. You know, I’m the typical guy: I like tiny women with tiny waists and hips like shelves for my hands to rest on, like a steering wheel. Steering that pussy latte around on my cock. You had a hold on me before I met you, and you sealed it with that kiss, and topped it off with your personality and mind. You’re sexy, period and end of conversation. I’m not going to say “please please come”, that’s not my style. You do what you need to do, and if you’re that uncomfortable, then don’t come. Stay in Phoenix, or go to Miami, work out on the beach, find a pool boy to help you fuck off the extra, then come back in the summer and we’ll fuck off the rest.”

I do a loop through Utah, California, Arizona, and Utah to get back to him. While in California, I earnestly try to distract myself with Darab and The Plant Whisperer. Another six weeks pass. We make more plans. He buys Burning Man tickets. 

I drive back to him through blinding snowstorms, risking my life. The blizzards in Utah and the car without snow tires are a perfect metaphor for my vision and my risk management. 

Blurry view of treacherous snowy roads through windshield from driver's seat

This is the third visit.

We’ve both been having unprotected sex. We both hide it from each other.

He’s drunk, but I’m not. I’m stone cold sober. I’m there for 5 days including Valentines Day. The magic is gone. Rapid City romance.

There’s something unsaid. No matter how many words we throw at each other, it never gets said. We eventually get into a fight. We’re sitting in my car, which I’m using to drive him around because his has issues that he’s slowly trying to fix himself, as usual. We’re talking sharply, we’re late, but we have to hash it out. We get heated. Our voices louder.

I accuse him of black and white thinking. He yells at me for the first and last time.

Foryst apologizes 1000 times after that. He tells me something in me flipped like a switch at that moment, something he knows he’ll never be able to undo. 

I don’t see it like he does. I see so much energy created and passed between us that we as human beings are not ready to process it. We cannot be a conduit to it. We cannot pair our lives in any meaningful way to support it. I hear it in his voice and feel it in that moment. The moment when the spark fizzles out. I hear the fuse blow.

He says more things I can’t forget. Foryst gets texts from his future partner. He drunkenly confesses he can’t believe a girl with a 6-pack would be so into him, trying to get me to take his side on that, as though that assumption of worth and value based on the shape of a body is something I could step into, nonetheless while standing a few inches taller than he. I break.

We break up.

I leave.

I tell him I’m angry at him for walling off what was between us. He says that what I thought was there was never there.

I cut the wrap out of my hair. He sells his Burning Man tickets. He tells me he will never stop loving me. I tell him I will never stop loving him. He quotes Vonnegut.

tiger gotta hunt

bird gotta fly

man gotta sit and wonder “why why why?”

tiger gotta rest

bird gotta land

man gotta tell himself he understand

I am still a few years away from fully coming out as polyamorous when this experience with Foryst plays out. With so much work, I have forgiven him 1000 times. 

But I mourn for the part of him that wanted to do the very thing that I am doing – traveling, couchsurfing, exploring, expressing, learning, loving, and fucking my way through the world – for that part that got filed behind the other part of him that chose a woman with three children under ten, and has spent at least the next seven years of his life in the same place he was when I found him, planting deeper and deeper roots. 

Perhaps it was the place. Rapid City. The plains. The rock. The granite. The wind.

The vibration of life just blowing by at such a pace while one is grounded so deep in the stone. All you have to do there is reach out, unfurl your fingers, to catch some of it going by. Some of it.

Perhaps deeper roots are what it took for him to stop drinking, stop smoking. For that, I applaud him. 

But for thinking I wanted more than he could give me, for thinking I could not handle polyamory after I stated that as my intention, as new at managing my emotions around it and declaring it as I was, and lying to me, and for himself being the one to choose monogamy while I become ever expansive in love and life and travel – for that I don’t need to curse him, because he gave me the greatest gift anyone could give me.

He gave his dreams to me. His absence has been with me through 90 countries since and will be with me through 90 more.

We loved and fucked a season away on Halloween, Day of the Dead, Birthday, Christmas, New Years, and Valentines Day – and of all the days of the year I could be writing this? July 4. 7 years later. Happy Independence Day, Foryst.

Seven years after the Rapid City romance, and still, I sob for us:

May you be happy. May you live in peace. May you walk in ways that bring blessings. May you know love.

May I be happy. May I live in peace. May I walk in ways that bring blessings. May I know love.

May we be happy. May we live in peace. May we walk in ways that bring blessings. May we know love.


View of Rapid City, South Dakota from Harney Peak

I sold the car that drove me three times to and from Foryst, Rapid City and The Black Hills. I have not yet been back to South Dakota.

This is the second of a Rapid City romance in 2 parts: The American Lovers, South Dakota Part I

More stories about monogamy, polyamory, and cheating:

1: Cheater

2: His first discretion? The European Lovers: Hookup

3: In more detail: The European Lovers: Barcelona

4: Will He Or Won’t He?

5:  Stop. Falling. In. Love. With. Monogamous Men.

6: Agenda

7: Naked in the Dark

8: Use a Condom

9: Stuck


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