There are two tasks on this planet that make me, as my good friend Beth offers in metaphor, lose my bones. You know when something is so tiresome, boring and awful, you feel like you’re actually turning to jelly and slumping to the floor, as if the cartilage in the body instantaneously decided it can’t offer support against such an onslaught of tedium? For me, the two activities that cause this childish collapse are cooking (or really food preparation in any form) and moving.
I don’t mean literal motion. I mean the act of packing boxes, renting a U-Haul, filing address changes with government entities and other places with which one does business, cancelling the cable service. Under the most pleasant of circumstances, like the present set, the arduous work of changing homes is joyless. It’s time, often lots of it, spent doing something dammit, that should be simple. Time I’ll never get back. Each time I relocate, I swear it will be the last. And how the hell did I accumulate so much stuff anyway!?
When Bob and I started dating in February, it didn’t take long for either of us to understand that this is it. At some quick point we verbalized our mutual, peaceful satisfaction with each other. We’re off the market. It’s a wonderful, surprising certainty heretofore totally alien. I am a writer. We thrive on gray areas. It’s where we live and obsess. Great, painful products result. With Bob, I get the great without the painful. Huh. But this revelation came at an awkward winter housing moment. We were in love but so new. And then a renewal for my current lease arrived. I signed it. It seemed too soon to talk cohabitation.
By early May, I had my own set of keys to Bob’s condo and wasn’t going “home” (already the word was dissociating from my Rogers Park apartment) for more than the feeding and maintenance of Dino. To grab a few things that I needed in the love nest.
In early June, Dino relocated entirely. The act was infused with more than the simple transplant of an old, four-pound ball of fluff. Dino is my baby, at the time my only furry boo. We had a full, independent life before we met Bob. We were the dynamic duo that ate cheese in bed together. We couldn’t imagine a reason to improve upon perfection. We didn’t know we could have more than enough. So when Dino was released from his cat carrier into a new environment, with a warm man to cuddle and canine siblings to tease, I knew we’d reached a tipping point. The five of us were all in.
One thing you have to know about Bob. He’s quiet but that should never be mistaken for weakness or lacking in passion. Others have made that error at their own expense. His is one of the strongest personalities I’ve known. It’s part of why I love him. Supportive, solid, funny – without the noise and drama. Bob doesn’t make more work for anyone – including himself – than is logical. Combine this fluid, yet determined sense of purpose with my innate aversion to drudgery, and it’s probably no surprise to learn that it’s mid-October and I’m still not out of my old place.
I no longer sleep, eat or shower at the bachelorette, beachfront studio that served as a personal healing and growth bunker for four post-divorce years. My mail is forwarded. The furniture has been donated. There’s just boxes of memories left. I have no emotional attachment to the rooms where I recovered from cervical cancer surgery alone, or responded to knocks on the door from the police after my alcoholic ex came home from another night of binge drinking. The place has been done for me for a long time. And even if I hadn’t met Bob, Dino and I had been inching toward a fresh environmental beginning. Maybe it’s because of the literal and metaphorical baggage of the place, compared with the light warmth of our new home with Bob, Meko and Jude, that returning there to retrieve my photos, yearbooks, awards and trinkets feels so passé, a trip to another era that I am ok with leaving in the past.
But it’s increasingly clear, in the best, most comforting way that it’s time to bring this business to an end. The only sensation to rival my distaste for cooking and moving is an absolute hatred of loose ends. Bob and I (it’s all “we” now) are spending money on two homes. In increments we have merged our utility and grocery expenses, but the waste involved in delaying a complete domestic unification grows more oppressive. It’s not even something we have to discuss. It hums between us, a frequency that speaks: “I’m with you. There’s nowhere else I can be. Nowhere else I’d want to go.”
So tomorrow morning, we’re finishing what we didn’t realize we were starting in February. The natural second and final act – living together contentedly until death does us part. I will whine, rush and verbalize my displeasure with every second of the work. Bob will shift into focused task mode, silently doing the heavy lifting, pausing only to give me a kiss or ask what to do next. His legs will grow sore from all the trips up and down both sets of third-floor walkup stairs, but he’ll never complain once. That won’t stop him from smiling when I do – profusely. Then we’ll look at all the boxes in our living room, open a bottle of wine and I’ll be home. Never to move again.