Ok, let’s resume!
He wanted to live together. My roommate was moving to San Francisco when our lease ended, so the timing really couldn’t be any better. The questions that I asked myself then, and now with the break-up, are these: Were we moving together due to the convenience? Because it was cheaper?
Although letting someone into your bed is one thing, letting someone into your bed permanently and then calling it our bed is a whole new ball game.
‘You know people don’t move in together expecting to move out, right?’ I asked him.
He is the one that brought it up, to live together. I’m not sure if his confidence at the time inspired confidence in me, but I knew that I was ready. I never once doubted his desire to live with me, and I am trying my best to honor that belief even now.
Like moments that preceded this one, I was sort of embarrassed to tell my friends that he and I were going to live together. I was worried they would think I was moving too quickly, that I was in over my head. That I was a foolish girl.
But having him in New York, with me, and by my side, was all that I had wanted.
So the hunt began.
Do you know how hard it is to find an apartment in New York? Honestly, not that hard.
But finding a home? Within budget?! With enough space?!
I was worried about fitting my clothes in my future closet, and he had a wardrobe that could literally take mine on. Where were we going to store a collective 60 pairs of shoes!?
We set our priorities — I wanted a washer and dryer in the building, close proximity to subways; he wanted a shower that he could actually stand in, ample closet space. We wrote out these lists and got to work.
While I was working, he would send pictures and the occasional video. I will say now that some were absolutely dreadful. I couldn’t see the mice or cockroaches, but, trust me, they were there.
“I found it!” he texted me.
It was a home in Downtown Brooklyn. Like an actual home, passed down in the family since 1910. At some point, they just made each floor its own apartment (a total of three units, landlady/owner living on the first floor). If we wanted, we could sign the lease and call this massive 1,200 sq. ft. third-story apartment ours.*
A 15 minute walk from the subway and no washer/dryer in building, it wasn’t exactly my dream place. The shower was this tiny, small tub that looked like it had been there since the building had been built. He would have to wash his hair by bending over to fit under the head. There was no ‘closet’ really, but a very small bedroom that we could convert into a walk-in closet with some custom Ikea shelves.
He loved it. And although I didn’t exactly love it, I loved him.
So all my priorities went out the window, because, he was my priority.
So, after signing our lease, with the help of his dad and a UHaul, we moved in on a sweltering July morning.
Looking back now, I am certain we wouldn’t have found a better deal anywhere else. Literally two subway stops into Manhattan, with so much counter space you could sleep on it, it was an actual steal. I can’t help but feel lucky.
Our time together was delightfully mundane and intimate. We ordered all the meal kit boxes from all the meal kit subscription services. He would sing in the shower and would dance around the apartment, and it brought me joy to have such a personal view into his life. I would nag at him for leaving his hair in the shower, and we would argue about whose hair it was on the floor, whose drool it was on the pillow, whose turn it was to run down to get the Postmates when it arrived to our door. We would spend evenings after work watching Community and Brooklyn Nine Nine. We bought stacks and stacks of books together.
It was a huge contrast to all the drama that our relationship had survived through.
I watched a few YouTube how-to videos on cutting Black men’s hair, and once he bought us clippers, Annie’s Barbershop was officially open for business. Sure, it only served one patron, and sometimes it didn’t result in the best haircuts, but I always tried my best [And sometimes cried when it didn’t work out].
He was so impeccably clean, and although I annoyed him by leaving clothes here and there, I definitely paid my dues in dishes!
Needless to say, memories were made inside the apartment, but in the six months we also made many memories together in the city. At some point before we moved in together, we created a bucket list of items to complete together in our lifetime.
Go to Lisbon. Play Pachinko (after we both read and loved Pachinko, the book). Make kimchi. Own a Rita’s Italian Ice (estimated cost of opening a franchise location: $140,500).
We slowly worked to knock a few of these off —
Go to a storySLAM. Eat at 20 michelin star restaurants. Make a full Thanksgiving meal (on Thanksgiving). Finish a Sunday NYT crossword puzzle.
[There are still so many remaining items. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to delete this bucket list, but I find it too painful to even contemplate trying.]
He may have different things to say about this pre-COVID period of living together. But from my memory, it was pretty much perfect. I still can’t help but feel lucky to have lived with him.
I find that now, after everything has been said and done, those beautiful memories are starting to fray and gray at the edges. In a way, they’ve lost their life source, and it feels like our union is what kept those memories vivid and bright.
Although it doesn’t really make sense, I currently imagine that she and him will move on and resume this life of cohabiting together. Our life. That he will wipe away her tears when she messes up cutting his hair, will try to strike a deal so that she will do the dishes, or will create a new life bucket list with her.
Or, even, that he might start crossing items off our bucket list with her.
In some ways, the life we made together feels so sacred. But now the reality that it is over has started to sink in, the memories have started to mold and sour, with little spores of doubt blooming over the days we spent together. Was he thinking of her then? Did he wish that he was living with her, instead?
I’m about to go on a little bit of a tangent here. It may still be another post or so until you know exactly how this whole thing unravels, but I want to stop here and say that it takes immense courage to break up with someone you love.
Unfortunately (fortunately?), this story does not end with him saying he no longer loves me and no longer wants to make me happy. But, I know that there’s no way it could’ve worked out in the long run. Not the way things were going, at least.
I know he also has many fond memories of this time, and although he never (outwardly) led me to believe that our relationship would end eventually, I know the last thing he wanted me to feel was broken.
I won’t make excuses for him. I know he was cowardly. I know that he was greedy.
But if he enjoyed our life even half as much as I did, I can only imagine the sadness and fear that came with throwing it all away.
*Before it was ours though, it was rented by a Real Housewife of New York. Crazy world it is, huh.