Negotiating 101, or Living with a Boy

31 Jul

I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I moved 2,800 miles to be with my man.  2,800 miles, 13 shipping boxes and 6 hernia-inducing suitcases later and here I am.  Negotiating.  For space, for the right to pare down, replace, reorganize, rethink what it means to live in 475 square feet.

475 square feet.  That’s the size of most of my friend’s living/dining rooms.  And we’re meant to fit two grown adults, all our furnishings, possessions and egos into this space.  Turns out the ego is infinitely larger than I had originally suspected.

Because, let’s face it, the question of whose pots and pans, or dishes, or towels, we should use is not actually about the pot, pan, dish or towel.  It’s about us, our egos, our history and memory poured into this one item, which has now grown grander and more important that the Queen’s own china.  This should be saved, remembered, cherished.  And this.  And this.  And this.

Such were the discussions between me and Cityboy these past few weeks.  The first week was especially bad, since my recently arrived boxes and bags were drowning the entryway and living room in a sea of clutter.  So I unpacked.  The suitcases I’d flown with were easy, folded clothing whisked into their waiting drawers (thoughtfully purchased and assembled by Cityboy) and off-season clothes into their plastic containers.  A trip to the Container Store (my mecca and partly responsible, according to a recent New Yorker article, for the wholesale feminization of the ultimate man cave, the garage) and I had my fancy slim hangers, complete with cascading hooks and removable pant clips.  My newly created closet (also courtesy of Cityboy) was a beauty to behold, quickly camoflaged from view by the folding screen Cityboy already owned.

Then we got into tougher spaces, shared spaces, where my stuff and his stuff would have to peaceably co-mingle.  I knew it was going to be a difficult process in the bathroom from earlier “discussions,” during which I suggested that Cityboy pare down his plentiful toilette to items actually in use (at the time, he decided to leave the deciding for another day).  So I did what any sensible girl would do.  I fixed what I could fix.  Rather than force Cityboy into saying goodbye to his many unguents and potions, I organized my things into the blank spaces left to me, namely one skinny bookshelf repurposed from the dining area and some undersink space.

my bathroom sanctuary

I felt a sense of accomplishment and Cityboy got to keep his things just as he’s always had them.

The kitchen was another matter.  I waited until the weekend, when Cityboy would be home to referee my activities.  (Much as I wanted to just spring the newly organized space on Cityboy, my wise friend Nancy cautioned against it.  And she should know a thing or two, having been married for over two decades.  Men don’t like change.  Especially sudden change.  They just don’t.)  First I cleared out all of Cityboy’s open shelving, spreading all of his pots and pans and appliances and doodads over the entryway floor, along with my own.  Then I separated out all the duplicates.  And the broken or less than perfect items.  And the downright weird or ugly.  And I called Cityboy over to weigh in.

I think it helped that a baseball game was on, which meant he was distracted and not hovering the whole time.  Also I included him on what I was doing.  And I asked for his opinion.  Over the course of a long afternoon, I rearranged the kitchen, moving things to where they made better sense to me as a cook, and luckily, Cityboy agreed to let quite a few things go.  Of course some went into storage, so we can “discuss” their fates another day, but quite a bit went into the donate or toss boxes, making me a very happy lady.

Some things saw the light of day that I wished hadn’t (like Cityboy’s macramed “pot holders” he’d made as a kid which I mistook for coasters since they’d shrunk so much) while others were pleasant discoveries (a wooden chopping board Cityboy made in grade school that his mother had saved).

Other things are still under negotiation, like what to do with all the extra shelving that’s been created by my reorg.  And some things, like the frighteningly densely packed hall closet (the only proper closet in the entire apartment), still need to be tackled.  But it’s certainly been an education, which is what this whole life is for.  We must constantly negotiate what has meaning in our lives and make room for newness and wonder.

Containing myself, one space at a time,


One Response to “Negotiating 101, or Living with a Boy”

  1. T.J. August 1, 2009 at 5:18 pm #

    Just one thing though…
    We don’t like change that affects our entertainment, hobbies, etc. Positive change is good for the soul, but leave my role-playing books alone. 🙂

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