By the time we had been together a year, we had fallen into an alternating night routine that involved each of us carrying clothes around in our bags all the time, and lots of guilty feelings about neglecting my cat. When our lease renewals came, I spent days building up the courage to say that I thought we should talk about moving in together. I’m not exaggerating about that whole building up my courage thing—one night, right before falling asleep, I choked out bizarre phrase like, “I have something I need to say and I’m scared to say it and I think we should talk but maybe tomorrow but you’re going to have to make sure because I might get nervous and not say it.”
Eventually, I said it. I talked about my desire to make a home together, to know that each day would end together, to stop carrying all our clothes around in our bags all the time. Sandy said that last one wasn’t really a good reason. At any rate, he needed to think about it.
Five months later, after we’d been looking for condos that I might or might not end up moving into for a while, he bounced into bed and grabbed my knees and said “we’re going to move in together right? Let’s move in together!”
But, he informed me, first we were going to have to “work on some things about our relationship.” This precipitated a period I like to call “Sarah and Sandy pull the bandaids off.” I don’t put the chopping board behind the sink. RIP. Sandy can’t remember to close the toilet so that the cats don’t use it as a water bowl. RIP. I keep my opinions hidden until I’m so miserable that I cry and blame him for not knowing what I was thinking. RIP. Sandy sometimes discounts my opinions if I don’t express them forcefully enough. RIP.
Then the practical details sunk in. To be honest, they sunk in for my mom first. “He’s the one who’s condo shopping. You’re going to be his tenant,” she reminded me. “It’s kind of strange.” No, no, I insisted. It’s not strange at all. At which point, of course, it started to seem really strange.
I was kind of shy this time, as I approached the topic. I wasn’t sure that I was ready to offer to buy the condo with Sandy anyway. But I did hint about how it would be nice to own the place together, how it might be confusing financially if we needed to upgrade the house, how my mom said it was weird. Sandy said that last one wasn’t really a good reason. At any rate, he clearly needed to think about it.
Three months later, this time, Sandy rolled over to me in his desk chair holding a rolled up mortgage application in his hands. “I was thinking … let’s buy the house together!”
We were pretty well done with bandaid ripping at that point, but we were in for a sudden dose of economic reality. I’m kind of poor, in a middle class sort of way. I’ve got money in the bank, but not that much. I don’t have credit card debt, but lordy do I have college loans. The kind of condo I could have afforded to buy on my own wasn’t even in the same neighborhood as the condos we’d been looking at—the condos I had come to love.
So, we talked it through. I took a book out of the library called Living Together When You Are Not Married (or something like that) and copied the “contract for unequal ownership of a house.” (When we talked to Ed about the mortgage, he got my financial info first, paused, and then said, “Um, so where is the rest of the down payment coming from?”)
For the record, we’re not engaged and we’re not getting engaged just because we’re moving in together. But, it’s pretty obvious that if I put a controversial idea on the table, Sandy will think of it on his own three to five months later….
I’m going to save the whole marriage thing for a while, though. First I’ve got to get him to think it was his own idea to throw away that godawful white zip-neck polo shirt.