August 12, 2015

Living Together 101


I think some things in life are pretty important. Like, you should be dating for at least several months before you move in with someone. Or you should stop at the gas station before your car sputters to a stop on I-95.

These are life lessons that you usually learn around the age of sixteen, an ideal pre-college age which is young enough to stop college-aged you from sharing a single dorm bed with your boyfriend starting around your two week anniversary, or from calling the local police station when you and your best friend are stuck gas-less on the side of the highway. (Because if you weren't smart enough to re-fuel before this point, thinking to call AAA is a bit too advanced for your crisis-coping skills.)

Luckily for me, only one of these situations led to an uncomfortably embarrassing story. The other one led to my current fiance.

You see, although Derrick and I weren't technically living together in college, we were living together enough for me to learn that he can't sleep without the TV on, and for him to learn that I don't partake in clothes folding.

In the three years and change after college, we lived together for one in Chicago, half of which was spent in a studio apartment meant for one small person. So you'd think that moving back in with him after only a year living by myself wouldn't be that big of deal. You'd also think that even at the age of 19, I'd know that "10 miles to empty" isn't an empty threat. Sadly, this is not the way my reality works.

I'm actually being dramatic; it's not a big deal (at least not the bad sort of deal). But it is a bit of an adjustment. So to celebrate day five of the rest of forever with Derrick, I thought I'd start jotting down what I've learned about living with your significant other:

1. Be on the same page regarding toothpaste.
Derrick and I sat down for a talk on our second day together to discuss the acceptable ways in which we handle our tubes of toothpaste. You see, I come from a background of never closing the lid all the way and squeezing from the top, which is kind of aggravating to someone who isn't used to removing that hardened blob of day-old toothpaste every brush. Derrick goes for the more conventional "squeeze from the bottom and re-cap" route; we've determined that this issue may be the central factor if we one day get a divorce.

2. Get on the same page about sleeping habits.
And if toothpaste doesn't cause our future marriage's demise, the bedroom television will. Because how do you compromise when one person can't fall asleep without the TV on, and the other can't sleep unless it's off? It really just comes down to who can be more grumpy in the morning and, luckily for me, I've perfected the art of being a top class grumpster.

3. And if you can't, get earplugs.
This is what you need to know about me: I'm not a particularly light sleeper, but I am a light faller-asleeper. Meaning, I have a very hard time falling asleep with any outside noises or lights around me.

This is what you need to know about Derrick: he doesn't exactly snore, but does more of a "unnaturally heavy breathe" when he's asleep. Falling asleep next to him can sometimes feel like being trapped in a glass room with a fat kid wearing a necktie.

I've tried subtly but not-so-subtly kicking him when he starts up, but this allows him to win at the grumpster game the next morning. So plan B is to get earplugs; I will be sure to report how well this works later.

4. Air-conditioning preferences aren't to be taken lightly.
Derrick hates high energy bills. I hate sweat on my brow in the living room. The past five days has been a Cold War of sorts, with both of us turning the AC up and down behind each other's backs. (Pun intended.) Unfortunately for Derrick, I can be very patient when it comes to trickery... so I don't intend on losing this battle any time soon.

5. It's not that hard.
Some things are sort of hard, and I imagine that some days will be very hard. But it doesn't have to be that hard. Just pick someone you like who doesn't pick their nose, and with some good communication, a willingness to compromise, and a little trickery... I think it can be done.