Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Behavior Modification

Monday night, I got home late to an empty house. So I made a bee-line for the bathroom, where I quickly washed my face and brushed my teeth to rid myself of the way-too-many cigarettes IÂ’d smoked over a dinner/catch up session with my friend. I headed back downstairs and made myself a drink. Then I went upstairs and settled in for bed, burrowing beneath the blankets and settling in with my fresh drink and a half-empty pack of cigarettes. I reached for the remote and thanked God for On Demand Cable.

Billy and I have an agreement. I won't subject him to Sex and the City if he doesn't subject me to shows about cars. Fair enough. For the first time ever, I praised his hectic work schedule for giving me this hour alone, and I went to HBO On Demand, chose "Series," and there they were: Six episodes of Sex and the City. I chose the first one and prepared myself to gorge.

And wouldn't you know it, the first episode had Carrie moving in with Aidan, and detailed her adjustment to the new living arrangements. "SSB," she said, was what she'd have to give up in moving in with her man. Secret Single Behavior. Oh, I have those.

Carrie detailed her devotion to standing in the kitchen, eating saltines smeared with grape jelly while reading fashion magazines. Charlotte examined her pores for an hour. Miranda smothered her hands in Vaseline, wore gloves and watched infomercials.

But I was right in the middle of my single behavior. Settling in with something good on TV with the lights out, not talking to anyone. Just losing myself in a show. But I get plenty of that: Billy's rarely home before me, so most times, I can still indulge in my love of Chick Programming.

What I cannot do anymore is turn up the volume on my stereo, blast Mariah Carey and sing along like I'm performing a concert. I can't come home and not talk. And that's it. Otherwise, I still have the freedom to do pretty much everything I used to do. And the only reason I can't blast the stereo is that we don't have a stereo in our room. And I love talking to Billy when he gets home. Besides, if you want to get technical, I don't even really live there, so I could just go to my house and be as "single" as I want. But I don't want to.

A few nights ago, Billy admitted "I've never done this before." He meant this whole living-together thing. And neither have I. I dated a guy for years and never even kept clothes at his house. Maybe I'd spend one night a week with him. If that. So this, this whole wake-up-and-come-home-to-each-other thing is new to both of us. And I never thought I'd be comfortable with it. I thought for sure I'd feel suffocated, desperate to get some of my own space. But we have such a great balance. I still have my own space if I need it, if for no other reason than he doesn't get home before 10:00 most days. And we're not attached at the hip when we're home. I've hibernated in the bedroom while he tinkered with the computer downstairs. I've occupied myself away from him, even under the same roof.

I used to worry that we moved too fast. We might have. We hopped right from Dating into Domesticity. We'd been dating for only a few months when I started to do his laundry, marrying our loads in his washing machine. I was making his morning coffee and loading the dishwasher before we'd even specified our status and boyfriend and girlfriend. But I didn't do it to cement my place in his life, orbecausee I thought it was what I should do. I did itbecausee it felt good. It felt good to make him happy, to do things for him just because. And I don't know that there's a time line a couple has to follow. It feels right, why not?

This was not at all what I'd pictured when I imagined living with someone. I pictured arequestt to reside with someone, followed by a ceremonial moving in. Split bills and split chores. But that's not the way this is happening. My clothes accumulated and, before I knew it, I wasn't staying at my house anymore. I don't know how it'll go down if we actually decide to make it "official" and have me really, truly move in. But I imagine it'll feel no different than it does now. Other than the fact that I'll no longer be writing out a rent check for a house I don't sleep in.


Jasika said...

wow...again, we are ONE.


What you're going through is SUCH an awesome time in your relationship.Up until the 'end', I would wake up giddy. First came my clothes, then the tampons, then a few pairs of shoes, then pictures, then a suitcase....

then a dog, then the breakup! lol

Yes, yes thats a bit unlikely. But the things you gain are SO much better than the SSB you give up!

(I was JUST watching that episode a day ago)

Paul said...

Once you've been to the Caribbean you'll never be the same, Laurie. It changes you in a positive way. Enjoy, girl !

Still reading.

portuguesa nova said...

I think it always happens like this, strangely...kind of like the iceburgs melting or something. You don't notice it while its happening, but sooner or later you're living together and there's no turning back.

Lulu said...

J and I did just what you are doing. Moved in together very quickly, that is. It took me a long time to feel as though I really belonged here. I have only recently started to feel that way. We have a great time together, though. Email me if you want commiseration!

The Editter said...

Exactly. The only difference is the rent you pay so stop paying it! You need your money for other things, surely.