Here are the things I know for sure: I sleep better with socks on; I prefer Dutch chocolate to Swiss; I look lousy in black and will always wear it anyway; and I will never, ever live with a man again.
Ever since I was a small child, I've wondered why people should have to live together. It's wonderful when you want to be together, mind you, but what about when you don't? Doesn't it make more sense to have the option, either way?
I'm not talking about families here, of course; obviously children need to be with their parents and parents need one another's help with the kids (though I think in principle it might not be a bad idea for each parent to get a day or two off every week). But for everyone else, I just don' t see the point.
Not that I haven't done it. For better or worse—and there's always way too much "worse" for my taste—I've lived with three men in my life: one at the age of 22, one at 35, and one at 38. In each case, it took about a year and a half of living together, inescapably, day after day, until the relationship fell apart. I'd been crazy about these guys before that: two of them I'd even planned to marry. The third proposed to me while we were sharing a home, and I said no.
I can figure that one out.
And so I've determined: I keep my place, he keeps his. Instant two-home family. I'm a person who values solitude; when I'm on a writing spree I can go weeks without seeing him. The silence is transcendent. There is no one moving books around, leaving socks on floors, misplacing ashtrays. No one dictates what time I eat or peeks through a door to catch me in the ungainly act of picking at a zit; no deliciously warm and tantalizing body lures me back into bed when the alarm goes off at 4 am and I should be—and want to be—writing.
Unless I want it that way.
My current boyfriend is one of the men I once lived with. Since then, he's moved from our tiny apartment to a house—a real house, with three bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, an upstairs and a down. Sometimes I spend a few days there at a time. It is always difficult to leave. It is also always great to come home—at once comforting, liberating, exciting, even. What adventures await me here, in my own place, in the soft white whispers of my own private sanctuary, between my pen and my notebooks and me? There are days I scarcely leave my desk. I don't have to. I don't want to. And that's the end of it.
This time, our relationship is working. I get the best of both the single life and the coupled life.
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