On Cohabitation, Cats, Cleaning, and Committment

1 10 2009

Monday. Monday is just hours away. Tomorrow, five years of struggling as a single mom to Liza will start to come to an end and the great co-habitation experiment will begin. For the five years of our relationship, Kelly and I have clung fiercely to our independent lives. For a lesbian couple to be together for five years and still live in separate houses is nearly unheard of. We’ve all heard of that old joke that lesbians bring a u-haul and luggage on their second date – a stereotype Kelly and I were not eager to embrace. She’d lived alone for nearly 7 years when we met, I was freshly divorced and relishing a life of my own after going from college right to marriage in my early twenties. We often joked we’d be the only couple in history to get married, have a big reception and then go home to our individual houses after the honeymoon. Maybe we were only partly joking.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Kelly. I ADORE Kelly. When she came into my life I laughed longer and harder and blushed more furiously than I ever had. In Kelly I found my soul mate, that person who got references to old movies, lived for pop culture, and for some reason completely unbeknownst to me, thought I was beautiful – and made me feel it for the first time in my life. My happiness with Kelly has been so profound that in the early days of our relationship three separate people from completely unrelated walks of my life asked me if I’d “had work done” on my face because all my worry lines were gone. But in spite of the rosy bloom of new love we knew there were some roadblocks to moving in together – the biggest of course being that Liza was still quite young and I was fearful of moving a new person into her life and home too quickly. However there were other differences. “We have different standards of cleanliness,” Kelly used to joke to our friends and she was right. I used to clean the kitchen at her condo after she made me dinner – only to have her clean it again after me. I’d spend all day cleaning my house for her only to b e greeted with a vague mmmm hmmmmm” when I asked her if she noticed. Let’s face it, I’m not exactly a slave to cleaning products. There was also the issue of her cats. While my allergies got better over time due to repeated exposure and, to be fair, while I have come to love all ‘our’ cats – I’d never met anyone like Kelly who, well, let’s just say put their comfort above pretty much anything else. I like the cats but at the end of the day…they’re just cats, an attitude that often puzzles and maddens Kelly.

So this year when we finally decided we were tired of saying goodbye on cold Sunday nights, tired of packing bags for sleepovers back and forth, tired of paying a mortgage and rent, two sets of utilities bills and tired of not feeling like a real family all time, we decided it was time for THE BIG MOVE. Honestly, I’m thrilled that we’ll have a home together. I’m delighted that our lives are moving toward marriage I’m ecstatic that we’ll grow old together. I’m relieved to have another set of arms rowing our financial boat and another pair of shoulders to take on the household responsibilities. And I’m terrified.

Living with another human being can be daunting. It exposes all our strengths and weaknesses and makes us vulnerable to scrutiny. I’m not terrified of what I’ll learn about Kelly. I’m terrified what she’ll learn about me and about what I might do or not do to make her wonder what she ever saw in me. What if I inadvertently let the cats out into the woods behind our house? What if the proliferation of wayward drier sheets all over the house ceases to be a charming quirk and becomes a major irritant? What if she’s horrified that I like to lie in bed at night and watch classic Star Trek episodes on Hulu? What if she discovers my habit of eating a bowl of cereal before bed when I’m stressed out. What if we can’t finesse a shower schedule for 2 women and a girl with varying beauty routines? What if Liza, admittedly not the easiest child to live with, makes her crazy? What if she decides that her life of peace and quiet and cats and cleanliness is more attractive than a life of moody tweens, the Jonas Brothers, and toothpaste hardening on the bathroom counter? What if I never sleep again between nocturnal cat wandering and her penchant to snore after a hard day at work? What if I can’t make her happy?

As I sit back and reflect on the newly cleaned-out closets and empty spaces awaiting Kelly’s clothes, dishes, books and furniture I am surprised to find myself oddly calm. Tomorrow she will come fully into our lives, with her love of Coen brothers movies, her penchant for finishing my sentences, her amazing macaroni and cheese recipe, the uncanny ability to know when I need her to rub my head at night when I can’t sleep, and a heart as big as the universe. Will we drive each other crazy? Most certainly. Will we make a new kind of family out of three headstrong often maddeningly hormonal females? Undoubtedly. Will it all be worth it? Do you have to ask?

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