Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My New Home for the Holidays

It has officially been one month since I moved in with Mr. Wonderful. And I'm happy to report things are going quite well. As you can see, he allowed me to fancy the place up for Christmas. Although I refrained from setting up the cat nativity scene out of respect to his manliness.

Up until this week, I was having some pangs of longing for my apartment. Whenever the thought of that place would cross my mind, one word came up: HOME. I lived there so long, it was completely my haven. That place where I would shut the door and exhale. It was wholly my space and nothing comforted me quite like it.

I remember thinking during my last move - to London in summer of 2009 - that if I had my car and my cats and reliable Internet access, it might feel more like home.

However, when I came to reside in Mr. W's, I had all of those things. And it still didn't feel like that exhaley haven I craved.

The first time I drove up to my town after the move, I felt the prickly warning that tears might be on their way. It's not that I wasn't happy to be living in the big city of Hollywood, it's just that my sweet small town of Montrose had such a different, familiar, welcoming feel. It made my chest hurt.

But something sort of amazing happened Monday night. I went back to Montrose for a haircut appointment. And when I got on the freeway toward Hollywood, the pang sort of reversed. I was longing for my new home. My home where Mr. W and my cats and my Christmas tree were waiting. My home where the entry hall closet is crammed full of perfectly organized stuff because we don't have enough storage space. My home where the roof leaked on my Grandmother's dining table Sunday. My home where I see grapevines from my bedroom window. It's my new exhaley haven.

I'm looking forward to celebrating there on Friday night and Saturday morning. Just me and my little fiance/feline family. And I'm a bit worried that when Mr. W returns from his travels abroad, the house is going to feel more like mine than his.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Cure for White Man's Overbite?

If you asked any of my high school friends about my ability to dance, they would probably bite their lower lips and say, "She has a tendency to do this."

I've never had much rhythm. As a kid, I wanted to join a cheerleading team but it was expensive and I don't think my parents wanted to deal with driving me to practice and competitions. So while some of my friends were cultivating the ability to groove to a beat and pick up the latest moves from their instructors, I was writing poetry and playing out dramatic storylines with my Barbies (yes, I was a late bloomer).

I would only dance to slow songs at school dances. And in college, when we started going to clubs, the white man's overbite would creep out every time. Thankfully, my kind friends would point it out and laugh hysterically so I could amend my facial expression when necessary...

I've gotten better about the lip-biting, but I still wouldn't say I'm a great dancer. Unless there's disco music playing. Then I can tear it up. But dancing properly at weddings and stuff? Definitely not my forte.

The night Mr. Wonderful and I got engaged, we were celebrating with drinks and dessert at the Madonna Inn, when suddenly the lead singer of the band said, "Now we'd like to have Melissa and Mr. W come to the dance floor for a special dance in honor of their engagement."

We both froze. And Mr. W's then roommate, Dirty Painter, laughed really hard.

He knew we couldn't dance. But there was no getting around it for either of us. We were on the spot. So with a couple dozen people watching, Mr. W and I took to the dance floor and tried to perform while the band played "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." We were both blushing profusely and I was sweating like a transvestite in a trucker bar. So many eyes on us. So many toes attached to my feet. So much room on that parquet floor. And it's not like Mr. W has stellar dance skills and could just lead me around, hiding my ineptness.

We were a pretty sad pair. And we knew this spelled big trouble for our first dance at the wedding.

But being the über thoughful superhuman he is, last night Mr. W gave me an early Christmas gift: 2 private dance lessons for us to squeeze in before he leaves to work in London for two months. I'm hoping this means our toes will be twinkling and our overbites will be concealed by the time the big day rolls around.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Did I Forget to Mention the Upsides?

Because my last post served mainly as a snapshot of the challenges of my new cohabitation situation, I thought I would balance it out with a look at the positives. There are quite a few, you know. Like...

Being able to talk to each other in person at night. Previously, we would each stay on IM until bed in case one of us wanted to tell the other something. This meant continual computer checks and, at times, long pauses between answers. Now I can yell down the hallway or whisper in his ear. While I'm addressing Christmas cards or petting the cats or filing my nails. Hooray for multi-tasking!

Mouthguard kisses. Hot, right? Well they're a heck of a lot better than the little smoochy face on IM.

A garage. I've never parked in a garage before. I mean, I've parked in a garage. But I've never had my own spot in one. It's quite delightful. My car will stay dry if it sprinkles at night. There's no bird poop on my windshield. And if I happen to need some drywall screws or Halloween costumes on my way to work, they're right there for me to grab...

The (Angels Singing in Heaven) dishwasher. This might be my favorite acquired item. I cannot tell you how many nights I spent cursing under my breath as I washed my dishes by hand at the apartment. Having a dishwasher is seriously the best thing ever. I haven't loved loading and unloading something this much since I got that Fisher Price shopping cart when I was 3.

Mr. Wonderful's cooking. It's Shut Up Good. Sometimes I think the food turns to gold when it hits my lips. The man is talented.

The view. Yes, that's it up there. The house is technically in The Hills (yes, those hills), so we have an incredible view of downtown LA from the front deck and living room window—and you can see even further from the top terrace patio in the backyard. Swoon.

A composter with live worms. Not dead ones.

My very own bathroom to stink up. Yes, I know I had my own bathroom at my apartment, but whilst living there, I would have to use Mr. W's bathroom whenever I stayed over. Now I can better maintain the facade that I am a delicate flower whose fragrance never shares a likeness with 3-day old hard-boiled eggs.

Grapevines in the backyard. Every morning, I open the curtains behind our headboard and stare out the window at the few little grapevines Mr. W has planted in the backyard. It's such a nice thing to wake up to. And it's totally helping me manifest that vineyard in our future...

The built-in exercise. I have to climb a couple flights to get from street-level to the house, and I'm really hoping it helps burn some of the thigh fat. I also feel like I have to walk a little further to get anywhere in the house. And then there's the constant sweeping. Surely, I'm going to be in killer shape by the time the wedding rolls around (99 days from today!)

The wine fridge. It's overstocked. We have bottles on the floor that won't fit in it and it's an absolute delight to go shopping around there and find the perfect pairing for whatever Mr. W's cooking!

The W. Of course that's the very best part of living with him. The living with him.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cohabitation and Recalibration

When it comes to personal living spaces, I'm a bit of a brat.

It's not that I've never shared a room or a house with someone. I don't remember it, but my brother and I shared a room when I was a baby. Then in college I had bunk beds with my roommate for 7 months. And my evil ex lived in my house for 3 months.

The difference with the two latter instances was that there were second homes involved to which one or the other of us could flee. In college, I could retreat to my parents' house and my childhood bedroom. When I was living with the ex, he was gone a lot at the fire station.

This is the first time I've really been in a 24/7 cohabitation situation.

For the last 8 years, I've been in my beloved apartment with only the cats. The 5 years prior to that, I lived in a cozy studio. And for almost 21 years before that, I had my own space at my Mom and Dad's.

Now I have a bathroom. And a desk/workspace corner.

It's weird.

Don't get me wrong: I'm overjoyed to be living with Mr. Wonderful. I wouldn't want anyone else as a housemate. But there really is a lot of adjusting and recalibrating going on right now. For both of us.

Downtime is different. There's a sort of sense that "stuff" should be getting done. Cat litter particles should be getting swept; rugs should be getting vacuumed; dishes should be getting scrubbed. Routines have changed. Rather than the normal race-around-getting-ready-leaving-debris-in-my-wake modus under which I normally operate, I'm trying to put things away and be more conscientious in the morning. Which adds time to my previous primping timeline. Working out is also different. It's much harder to get out of bed with a warm body next to you. And if you make it out of bed and that poor body has to see you with a greasy ponytail and yesterday's black socks doing step aerobics in his office, well, I hope he doesn't go blind from the horror.

Poor Mr. W has had to adjust to an additional facet of cohabitation that I've fortunately dodged. He's allergic to cats. And now he's living with 2 (and a half if you count the fat one as 1.5). He's come to tell me seven or eight times in the last 2 weeks that my little Zoë has thrown up on something. Like his couch and rug and old VCR. (He presented that last one like a tray covered in bio-hazardous material. It was kind of awesome.) His tingly nose has been driving him nuts, despite the purchase of two giant air purifiers.

On top of that, I'm sure my chick-knacks around his house are a little unsettling.

But we're working hard at acclimating. Saturday I bought Mr. W a mini tiramisu cake to honor him for being such a trooper. And Sunday, after about a month of meltdowny-ness and a ridiculously busy weekend on my end, I came home to a bouquet of flowers.

So, it seems we're doing some things right. And hopefully they'll continue to dull the growing pains.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ode to My Apartment, The Final Act

I saved my favorite room for last.

My bedroom was the room in my house that came to represent me most. This was not by accident. In 2006, I decided that my semi-tortured single self deserved a sanctuary. I wanted a space that captured my personality and welcomed me into it whenever I passed through its door. I wanted it to feel bold and bright and remind me that I was also bold and bright. I was not a girl in need of a boy. I was not a girl who wished her bed had someone else lying in it. I wanted this to be MY room to the nth degree. With a mattress I could lie on and stretch my limbs across to touch all four corners—leaving no room for anyone else. And a bedspread that a male would never pick. This was going to all about me.

So I did something I thought I'd never do. I bought a schmancy expensive duvet set from Pottery Barn. And when I moved a week ago, it broke my heart a little that I wouldn't be fanning it out across our guest bed (which is in Mr. Wonderful's office). When my niece told me she would take my bedspread, I almost cried. That single item had become my pet over the years. It represented a time of independence for me. Of repair. I didn't want it to go to the Goodwill. It needed to be passed on to some other deserving soul. Like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

It makes my heart sink a tiny bit to look at the pictures above. That single girl I knew so well and tried so hard to take care of is moving on. With luck, she'll never ever have to buy a ME bedspread again. And her bed will always have a soft concave spot carved out for her lifelong partner. But don't be surprised if at some point, she writes about taking a nap under her niece's duvet.