I am presently in a commuter marriage, my husband living in Depew, NY just outside of Buffalo that is wall to wall houses, and buildings with wings. I live outside the small city of Ithaca, NY because I am a country girl that seeks flowers and trees, and waterfalls as my playground.

I know of a couple who live separately and am surprised when I learn that after making love, he leaves for his apartment to sleep. And I am dumbfounded when current authors advise you must distinguish, be accurate, not just be comfortable, but then read: “He’s a nice man, but he’s sleeping with my seventy-year-old mother,” or “She’d babysat him as a child, and the two had been sleeping together on and off for years.” Meaning they are having sex – a misunderstanding?

It is like being misunderstood when accused of sexual harassment by Natural Habitat Adventures, an environmentally conscious group I have traveled with to four different foreign countries during the last decade. I am dumbfounded, flabbergasted, and shocked this February 2024, to be barred from future trips. The director refuses to divulge the behaviors they identify as sexual harassment, citing that the two people accusing me do not want to be identified. I reassure him that I do not need to know their names; that I would not retaliate in any way; I am a Marriage and Family Therapist. I ask him to find out what they are afraid of, as I have a right to know what I did wrong so I could correct. I thought I had been respectful of the customs of those in China.

I did ask them if it was acceptable to hug them, as we were photographed together. The director tells me that the two who complained are “not comfortable” sharing my specific behaviors, that I would know who they are. I have no other recourse than to be advised by a lawyer and submit my complaint of their unethical behavior of not informing me yet accusing me.

“I am sorry they are so fearful,” I tell the director. I own disdain for the shame.

I own that I have had casual sex and left to sleep at home. I have also slept with men and not had sex with them. So, why can’t we own the true understanding of the word sex? I am reminded of my three-year-old granddaughter looking at a drooping flower, saying, “maybe it is sleeping.”