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Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Girlfriend Took Over My Apartment!

Moving in Together: My Girlfriend Took Over My Apartment!

by Ivan Sciupac

When my girlfriend and I moved in together, I knew I'd need to make room for her stuff. Then came her bad habits -- and mine. 

When I lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC, a buddy once came over to hang out. He took one look around at my apartment's white panel walls, my aging blue recliner, and my two TVs stacked on top of each other and declared, "You live in a real bachelor pad."

I'm not sure he meant it as a compliment.
moving in togetherPhoto: Ivan Sciupac

Years later, I'm still living in a one bedroom apartment in the same neighborhood, though a much bigger one with bay windows and hardwood floors. Only this time, there's someone else here to share my space -- my girlfriend. And as far as I can tell, she is not a fan of white panel walls.

When two people decide to move in together, they often move into a new place. Maybe they analyze the floor plans and decide together where the couch will go. Or maybe they go to IKEA and decide -- again, together -- what bed to buy. They look at their new place the way I see the start of baseball season: full of hope and potential, a clean slate where anything is possible.

But what happens when someone moves into your place? The one you've had the way you want for months or years. What happens, really, when someone moves into your cave?

Elizabeth and I decided to move in together nearly a year after we started seeing each other. I had been pretty gun shy about living with anyone ever again after a couple of failed live-in relationships that left me emotionally banged up.

But with Elizabeth, things were different. She was kind and warm and wonderful. She liked eating Chinese on the coffee table and didn't seem to mind I considered cleaning the bath an optional chore.

After dating for some time, I started missing her on nights she wasn't over and wishing she wouldn't leave on days she was. So one evening while kissing her goodnight at her door, I asked her if she would move in with me. After being convinced I wasn't joking around, she said yes.

We had talked about finding a new place together. We wanted a new home, a fresh start. Mainly, I wanted to avoid all the mistakes I made with past girlfriends. But financially, it didn't make sense. So we decided she'd move into my apartment.

Before I knew it, things were changing. Framed photos of people I didn't know were scattered around the living room. Strangely scented candles were lit in the bathroom. Food I didn't like -- eggplant -- or had never heard of -- sun-dried tomato cheese? what is that? -- was stuffed in my cabinets.

My once-proud "man cave" was becoming something unrecognizable.

The biggest change, though, was the sudden need to make room in my life not just for her "stuff" but also her habits. These are the things no one warns you about. Sure, you can learn how to co-exist with flowery-printed bedsheets if you have to, but your girlfriend's idiosyncrasies?

Suddenly, I was struggling to get her to close the curtain after a shower. Or freaking out when she wanted to eat something in bed. Or stacking her laundry so high you would have thought we lived in an apartment with 10-foot ceilings.

I had my own peculiarities. I'm no clean freak, so I never really cared if a couple of days went by and the dishes in the sink weren't washed. No big deal. But Elizabeth's habit of leaving used plates on the table immediately after eating dinner? Infuriating! I had no idea I would care so much about such a minor thing. And I never knew my habit of mismatching wine glasses or my fascist ownership of the remote control would cause such ire.

But the biggest surprise since she's moved in hasn't really been the sharing of mutual space or discovery of potentially annoying habits. It's been all the things you didn't realize would make things, well, awesome.

Like agreeing from day one on how to split chores, or watching Jeopardy every night, or hosting unofficial burping contests that I usually lose. It's going for long runs together, or singing Disney songs in the shower, or giving each other foot massages on the sofa after a long, rough day.

So yes, maybe my man cave has been changed, maybe my space has been altered. Maybe my one-bedroom is no longer my own.

But I live with a cool chick who can out-burp me every night. And I'd take that over a bachelor pad any day.

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