“Listen, smile, agree and then do whatever the fuck you were going to do anyway.”
Robert Downey Jr.
Shacking up, playing house, moving in together. It’s a topic that seems to have a very specific calculation as to when the time is right. Like an old family recipe that has to be baked at the exact right temperature for not a second longer than the recipe calls for or it will burn up and ruin Thanksgiving dinner. But our choices are our own and don’t fit under one specific recipe. So, how do we know when to start the timer?
I recently have found myself accidentally living at my boyfriend’s house. It’s closer to my job, his fridge always has food in it and I happen to have fallen in love with his cat. But mostly, it’s because he’s there. I have yet to commit a toothbrush to his house and my clothes still come back and forth with me in an overnight bag, but yeah, I kind of live there.
It’s something I never put much thought to when entering into a serious relationship, but it’s an inevitable part of the process. It’s now dawning on me that we’ve started to build a life together, but we don’t “live” together. And it gets a bit tiresome living between two houses. We each have scraps of personal belongings left at each others places, but we don’t have one place to keep everything. Either he’ll forget to pack underwear or I’ll forget my make-up bag. But we press on.
This all seems like pretty typical relationship behavior. But, as I’ve learned, there’s no such thing as typical. You see, he is currently in the process of buying a new house. And as he’s looking for this new house, he can’t help but include me in the process. We both have every intention of continuing our lives together, of one day having our own family. So he wants to know that he can choose a house that I can see myself living in. And I feel confident promising that. The thing is, I know it’s what I want, but I hadn’t considered that I might be presented with this life decision at this point in my life. I unknowingly bought in to a pre-determined time frame; one absent of exceptions or adjustments.
So, I have found myself in a situation I would have never thought to prepare myself for. And, since the topic has come up, it has me wondering: If I’m basically living with him already, why not go all in? I’m understanding now that my opinions about this have been based solely on accepted convention. There are specific guidelines laid out that we all subconsciously abide by. We’re told it’s too soon to move in or too late to have kids. We’re asked why we are still single or how an engagement can be so long. But there isn’t one universal standard to hold all of our experiences to. Each one is different, with its own unique circumstances. We need to make our decisions based on what’s right for us, not what’s “right” for everyone else.
With this in mind, I’m realizing I can make my own rules for how I go about this transition. More importantly, it’s a reminder that I can make my own rules for how I go about most things from now on. It’s important to listen to others who have been there and consider their advice. It’s worth trusting those who have our best interests in mind and heeding the word of the wiser. But the only way to truly know what’s right for us is to find out for ourselves. We can’t be afraid of making mistakes or falling when we take that leap of faith. We’re more resilient than we give ourselves credit for, and from the little I’ve witnessed in my life, it seems to be worth the fall.
So as I sit in my tiny, one-bedroom apartment, a space I’ve built for myself alone, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all my blessings. Over the past few years I have created a beautiful life for myself and learned from my many mistakes along the way. And now, I have a partner who is offering to add to that life and make it even bigger and better. It may not be the way I’ve been told it should happen, it may not be the way it happened for someone else, but I know it’s what I’ve always wanted. I’m just getting used to the fact that always is starting sooner than I had expected.