If you're reading this, you're probably a close friend of mine and already know the reason I left Birmingham is because my boyfriend got a sweet job in his hometown, Columbus, Ohio. And you probably already know that prior to this I'd never lived outside of Alabama---never even lived outside of Jefferson County, and never lived with a partner.
The latter certainly wasn't for lack of trying. If I'm being honest, I'd imagined myself, at some point or another, living with every person I've ever dated. But, as you probably guessed by the fact that I'm only just now living with Jon and this cohabitation thing is new to me, it never worked out with anyone else. However, Jon did live with a previous partner once and I've seen how living with someone made him a better boyfriend. I suppose having to constantly consider another person's feelings will do that to you. My lack of prior cohabitation experience made me wonder if I'm housebroken enough to successfully live with someone.
I talked to several married and cohabitating friends before moving and they all warned me about what to expect. "You're going to fight over totally stupid things," they said. "It's going to drive you crazy having someone around all the time, especially because you're fiercely independent," and "you're going to have to make the most ridiculous decisions together, like whether to keep vitamins in the bathroom or the kitchen and how to load the dishwasher."
Nothing like that has happened yet, though I don't discredit their advice. It's only been a week and a half. So far we haven't fought over anything stupid, Jon's constant presence hasn't bothered me, and I keep my vitamins in the bathroom, which doesn't bother him. I don't know where he keeps his vitamins, or if he takes them. And the only dishwasher we have is our hands, so there's no debate over the right and wrong way to load it. We just have to decide whose turn it is to have their fingers turn to prunes after dinner.
Having dated over a year and a half before moving in together, we'd spent a lot of time around each other---including spending days on end at each others' apartments. I thought I'd learned just about everything there was to know about him. Then I saw him putting on deodorant. Yes, he puts it in the usual places, then he puts some on his chest and back. We're talking about stick deodorant here---not that puberty-riddled spray on stuff that smells like the little trees that hang from rearview mirrors. "What? Sweat doesn't just come out of armpits," was his explanation. Valid point.
I anticipated that learning new things about each other would come with cohabitation, but I didn't expect to create entirely new habits and hobbies together. Before moving in together, I don't think owning a record player, much less playing one nearly every night, ever crossed our minds. My dad gave us one as a moving present and I didn't expect to use it much considering that I don't own any records, and don't feel like I know enough about music to cultivate a decent collection.
Jon was thrilled. He spent a lot of time at our local Half Price Books sorting through their records, then his parents told us to grab any we liked out of their basement. Now we've got 30 or so records with music ranging from rag time to big band to jazz to alt rock to broadway. We figured out how to set the needle so it doesn't scratch the record and how to dust the records by following the grooves. We've also figured out creative ways to keep the cats from pawing at the spinning record. They're pretty enthusiastic about our new music too, though for entirely different reasons.
Everything is going really well---much better than I expected considering my friends' warnings. Every day feels like its own small adventure and I'm realizing that I'm more housebroken than I gave myself credit for. In retrospect, I'm glad I never lived with a prior partner. Not because I think my friends' warnings would have been far more applicable (I KNOW they would), not because I have some self-righteous belief about waiting for the right person, and not even because I now realize how awful a messy breakup would have been had I lived with any of my exes. I'm glad Jon is the first guy I've lived with because things are so much better with him and I know, undoubtedly, that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be.