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 Zoƫ 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.


Anonymous said...

I used to live with both a cat, and a flatmate who was allergic to cats. We dealt with it by making cat-free zones in the house - like the hallway, dining room, and her bedroom - and that way when her nose and eyes drove her crazy, she'd retreat to a cat-free space. :)

We also had to groom the cat every second day or so to cut down on the kitty hair and dander around the place! It was kind of a suckful job but the cat LOVED it.

Dingo said...

Heehee! Chick-knacks!

And you have your own bathroom? Jealous.

LesleyG said...

I think having your own bathroom will put you two leaps and bounds beyond the average new cohabitators. :)
But in all seriousness, I know no one who hasn't gone through this... adjustment time. It sounds like you're doing pretty well!

laura said...

Pretty soon you'll have taken over the entire house and all this will be a distant memory. All Danny has left in our house is one small space in the office for his servers and computer crap...and just this past weekend I was asking him to hide it in the closet so I don't have to look at. :) Give it a little time. Mr. W. will forget what is was like to live on his own.

Glad you guys are having fun in this new stage!!! I'm so happy for you!

Anonymous said...

Mr. W should build a guest house out back, then the cats can move into the guest house. Problem solved. ;)

Danielle said...

Chick-nacks. I love that.
You both will do just fine!
BTW, thanks for all the advice in my comments. They mean a lot to me and believe it or not I have been tryiing to do most of it!!!!

Jane Moneypenny said...

I saw this blog and thought of you! I cannot fathom living with a man or pet (although I do love dogs). I'm going to just have my own side of the house and he can have his one day.


Sizzle said...

It's definitely different, as we've discussed. I feel you on this! It's been five months and we're still having serious adjustment conversations. But the main point we keep coming back to is that we WANT to be together and we TRY over and over to be better at loving one another. That counts for a lot in our book.

My routine has changed. My idea of space has shifted. I'm trying to remember the good, the positives, and let go of a lot. I think it's working.

brookem said...

oh i can relate to this as well! i think you and i are on the same page with so much of this stuff (the cats being just one of them!). i'm going to actually send this post to matt. he'll see that he's not the only manfriend who has to deal with a girlfriend with a cat! :)

Mel Heth said...

Leafprobably - We have cat-free zones in our house now too! But I've only groomed them once since I moved in almost 3 weeks ago!

Dingo - Yeah I think Mr. W is more adamant that we have separate bathrooms than I am. He likes to think of me as a feminine flower...not a stink bomb.

LesleyG - I know everyone goes through this, but for some reason of course I thought we'd be different. :P I think the bathroom situation probably does help!

Laura - Haha are we going to become our mothers? And leave only the garages for our husbands? Just as long as you don't make Danny move into the closet permanently, I think everything will be ok.

Geekhiker - He actually has a guesthouse!!! It's a basement apartment under the house that he rents. We talked about the cats living there but I think I would have had serious withdrawals. So for now, they stay and he gets allergy shots. :)

Danielle - Thanks. :P And you're very welcome for the advice. I hope some of it was mildly helpful.

Jane - You'd come around. Seriously. Last night I caught Mr. W playing with the cats and a laser pointer. If you like animals in the least, you can't help but develop an affection for them when they're living with you. That goes for men too. :P

Sizzle - Yeah everything changes, doesn't it? It's really a test for those of us with control issues. Ahem. I'm working on it...

Brookem - Make sure he knows that some guys have it even worse because there are TWO cats in their house! Too bad we don't live closer - I'm sure the boys would enjoy commiserating over a beer. :)