Happy Together

May 4, 2009

There is a red jeep with California plates in my driveway. A Fender Stratocaster in my living room. Boy clothes in my hamper. My fiancé, Eric, has officially moved in.

I was thrilled when he announced that he was willing to pack up his whole life and move to New Hampshire from Los Angeles to be with me. I was less thrilled with the idea of all of Eric’s things moving in with me. My house is small, and I’m pretty set in my ways, and I had everything just the way I liked it.

Eric hasn’t “manned up” the place as my friend Lisa feared he might (Lisa’s husband, Sam, has a staggeringly large collection of Simpsons memorabilia; she is not what you might call an impartial observer). He didn’t bring a painting of dogs playing poker, or a mounted moose head, or a lamp fashioned from an empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s. But there have been changes nonetheless.

For starters, we now have all the TV channels. Before Eric moved in, my found-by-the-side-of-the-road 26-incher was equipped with basic cable, which consisted of the major networks, three PBS channels (more Nova than any one person needs), two Spanish-language channels, two shopping channels, two God channels, and a local public access channel that, thrillingly, broadcasts Portsmouth planning board meetings 24/7.

Eric, like most red-blooded men within a hundred miles of Boston, wanted to be able to watch the Red Sox. This required an upgrade to digital cable. When I called Comcast, the operator (a guy, of course) snarkily noted that “What you’re upgrading to is what most people consider basic cable.” The found-by-the-side-of-the-road 26-incher has also been cast aside in favor of a flat screen. (I know it’s only a matter of time before it finds a new home in our bedroom.)

Speaking of the bedroom, I’m learning that one of the biggest joys—and challenges—of cohabitation is sleeping next to your sweetie every night. Neither of us has been getting much shut-eye, due to the wide array of things that can go wrong when two staunchly independent sleepers try to find common ground in the same bed. So far we’ve been flummoxed by various maneuvers, including:

1. The Starfish: One of us goes to bed early and splays out across the entire bed, leaving the latecomer the option of disturbing the starfish (at risk of great personal peril) or attempting to squeeze into one of the microscopically small remaining spaces. This position is usually accompanied by copious amounts of pillow drool.

2. The Chicken Wing: This is a specialty of Eric’s—he rolls over on his side but leaves a deadly elbow poking out behind that nearly always remains undiscovered until it’s too late, when I attempt to spoon him and wind up with two badly bruised ribs.

3. The Accomplice: One of our two cats settles into a tiny but strategically critical region of the bed, taking up more space than any one cat should and becoming as stubbornly immobile as a slab of granite.

4. The Steamroller (aka The Burrito): I’m told this is a favorite of mine. Apparently I slowly yet steadily roll across the bed over the course of the night, accumulating both territory and bedding. By morning Eric is clinging to the very edge by his fingernails—shivering. He’s threatened to line up both cats down the middle of the bed as a kind of furry DMZ.

All in all, we’re doing pretty well. Thank God for caffeine.

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