[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
Mike and I just moved in together, which marked my tenth move in the past twelve years. If I stay in one place too long, I start feeling itchy and annoyed by my surroundings. Was that wall always that color? Were my neighbors always so annoying? Was the drive home always so tiresome? Moving frequently doesn't come free of cost though, with the security deposit and first months rent and an added pet fee and a moving truck/boxes, not to mention the hours of packing and unpacking and arranging.
Every time I move, I find new things to discard or give away, but usually not sell. Nobody would want my things, anyway. But why on earth did I move that ukulele seven times? I never once touched it. Once, when moving from my college town to Chicago, I thought I threw my passport away and went dumpster diving to find it. I never did find it in the dumpster, because it was safely tucked away with all my other important documents. Documents are a pain in the ass to move as well, not to mention a pain in the ass to have. We're expected to just "hold on" to a birth certificate and a social security card, or else? My god.
Because I previously lived in 250 square feet, I didn't have that much, because I couldn't have that much. When I downsized to move into that apartment, I felt a literal weight lift from my shoulders. Having less is a huge relief. But soon, that apartment's aged charm took on a darker hue. The neighbors woke me up in the middle of the night. One was a "drug dealer." Another cornered me one day to espouse the benefits of drinking silver. The toilet and shower erupted with water, seemingly unprompted. My cat had persistent fleas last summer, and I fought them tooth and nail, but fleas are insidious bastards and they never seemed to completely die. The washer and dryer continually broke down, and I continually traveled to my bank to request more quarters for aforementioned decrepit machines. But, I was walking distance to the ocean and sometimes, when I felt my anxiety ripping apart my shoulder blades, I walked down to the sand to smell the ocean air and remind myself that I am nothing.
Mike and I talked about moving in together for months. At first, our idea was to move into his place, but I didn't like that idea for many reasons, not the least of which was that we both worked from home and his apartment measured under 600 square feet in size. Watching him move all of his things, I wondered how I would have ever fit.
Agreeing to move in with a romantic partner feels akin to saying, "I'm okay with you." All of you. Your snoring and twitching legs, your hair in the sink, how you look in the morning, how you smell after a long day. Mike loves me despite my early morning alarms and rigid defecation schedule, and I love him despite his need to leave every light on, all of the time. Usually, he cooks (it's better for both of us that way), and I do the dishes. Once a quarter, I fire up the oven and make something only slightly better than what you might order at Applebee's.
Every time I move, there are new, but redundant, problems to solve. We had a shower with a door, now we need a curtain. There is no storage in the bathroom, or the sink faucet is backwards, or the bedroom is an odd shape, or the furniture from the old place suddenly looks odd and alien in the new place. Every time I move, I fill more and more boxes with books. When I was packing up a few days ago, I filled three and half boxes with books, most of which I've read, or at least intend to read or read again. Some of my favorites: Anna Karinina, Wuthering Heights, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, The Reivers, White Oleander, Farenheit 451.
If you're wondering, Mike and I moved into a spacious two bedroom apartment in Laguna Beach. If you would have told me eight years ago that I'd be living in Laguna Beach, I would have laughed, then pulled up a map. Now, when I tell people that I live in Laguna Beach, the response is either "I used to watch that show!" or "ohhh, fancy." Fancy it is, yet fancy I am not. The show, recently re-aired on Netflix, is impossible to watch.
Moving in with someone is, I imagine, a common breaking point in relationships. If you can't see yourself living with a man (or a lady) there really is no point in doing the dating dance. Usually, the dance ends long before that conversation is breached. If you really love someone, like really love them, their nose hairs and tattered t-shirts and insistence on putting the roll of toilet paper on backwards probably doesn't matter.
It might be difficult to love every part of a person, mostly because it is difficult to love every part of the self. I'd bargain that there are parts of every person that are dark and, at times, unlovable. But, real love can turn a blind eye to small darkness's, and small annoyances, and in exchange, receive thousands of small, beautiful moments together.
The small, beautiful moments are the things I'm looking forward to the most, in this new hardwood apartment with an excess of space and toilets that do not spontaneously rage. The small, beautiful moments with Mike, and the small, beautiful moments in this lush coastal city where artists and rich people and tourists converge in maddening multitudes. The seasons here are soft, and marked by travelers. Right now, the dead of January, is my favorite. I can walk to the beach without fighting crowds. I can drive to the store without traffic jams. I can run through the hills without confused hikers asking if I know where they may have parked their car? I can sit and watch the rain color the street like an oil painting, run in chaotic rivulets down the window pane, listen as it sing like a lullaby, and curl up safely with my cat on one side of me, and the man I love on the other.