July 5, 2013
“I sent him a list,” I said, “of all the things I was worried about.”
I was sitting in the dining room at my parents’ house, having a Sunday dinner with them. I’m trying to take advantage of these opportunities recently, because soon I’ll be moving away — not terribly far, but to New York City, from Boston. Perhaps more monumentally, I’ll be moving in with my boyfriend, the first time I’ve attempted co-habitation.
“What did the list say?”
The list went like this:
I sent the list in an email, after a night of tossing and turning, thinking about the move and all the coming changes. (I was also, just for clarification’s sake, doing some farting.) These were the things I was worried about: I’m kind of gross sometimes; will that be OK? Will I get to have my space when I need it? Will he judge me when I’m getting ready and I try on my fourth outfit?
He responded to my list with his own:
These are all things I can handle. I don’t like shitty TV, but I know that my boyfriend is an intelligent human being and that this trait doesn’t indicate a character flaw. And I get hating tardiness — in fact, I find showing up on time for things indicates that a person is respectful. As for cleanliness — let’s just say that when I explained to my mother that my boyfriend and I are “about the same level of messy,” she was horrified. That’s on us both.
We met last January — less than six months ago — via OkCupid. Quickly and easily, we became a couple, and things have been rockin’ ever since. When I told him I wanted to move to New York, it became clear that he did, too. In whispers, we admitted to each other that moving in together actually DIDN’T seem like a crazy idea, somehow. That we wanted to.
We planned on September, but he got a job in New York right away, effective July, as in right this minute. We went with it. We found ourselves in Brooklyn for a single Saturday, scouring Padmapper for apartments and Park Slope for parking spaces. I was sick, sneezing into napkins in the passenger seat while he swore that he would fucking lose it if we didn’t find a spot soon. That’s usually my line — I swear a LOT when things piss me off — but in my weakened state I could only wipe my nose with one hand and pat his shoulder with the other. “We’ll find an apartment, it’ll be OK.”
We did find one, at around 7 p.m., after many frantic phone calls, some panicked attempts at decision-making, and one lie about a flat tire. “Well, if we can get through this day, we can get through anything,” he said to me as we sat, paralyzed with indecision in a Park Slope café. We finally decided to take the place, so we met our realtor at his office. By that time I was nearly delirious with sneezing, and I filled out the rental application in a total daze. When we’d submitted the application and were leaving the building, I caught a glimpse of myself in a hanging mirror and saw that my makeup was all streaked, as if I had been sobbing.
We made it back to Boston around 12:30 that night, and I collapsed into a NyQuil coma. The house was tissue-less, so I brought streams of toilet paper into bed with me, and clutched them while I slept.
Back at my parents’ house, I asked them for advice about living with someone. “Don’t be afraid of fighting,” said my dad. “For a while when we first got together, we kept track of who owed who what,” said my mom. “Eventually we watched it even out, but it was good to have.”
I’ve asked other people too, friends who’ve had experience. “Definitely have two rooms, so that you can go be mad when you’re mad at each other,” said one. “Reward yourselves for cleaning,” said another. I’m taking it all in. But after the sending of the lists, I really don’t feel worried. I know only this: we want to live together, and so we will. We’ll keep my desk in the bedroom and Febreeze in the bathroom, and I’ll start getting ready early enough that I don’t make us late. I’m certain that our frantic day in Brooklyn was not the hardest thing we’ll face — that there will be real sobbing and the mean kind of swearing — but I still feel good to know that we survived our first hurdle. Perhaps we’ll survive the next one, too.
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