The Key

Independence is one of the reasons I moved back to the town where I went to school. I can live in this town and walk nearly everywhere I need to go. And if it’s raining or too hot, I can take the bus. I don’t need a bike or a car. Independence, I think, is especially precious to those of us with mobility impairments. Walkability is the most important part of a place for me. Living in the downtown area is very expensive, and I can’t really afford it. But I’m willing to spend a ridiculous percentage of my income to rent my own place in my perfect location.

My family has always been into real estate as an investment. They buy fixer-uppers and rent them out. But not here, not in California. In other states where homes are so much cheaper.

Where is this going, you ask? Just around the corner from my current house, there’s one for sale. It’s old with a damaged foundation and everything needs to be replaced. Basically, you’d buy the lot, tear the place down, and build anew. And oh, if I had the money, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. The price, for the land essentially, in a hip downtown area like this one, makes sense to me. My parents had a wedding to go to nearby and came to visit me, and of course we walked by the place, and discussed it seriously. They’d give me a loan just as they had my siblings when they bought their first houses. They talked interest rates and home loans and things I don’t really understand. They asked me about B. What are our plans? Is he going to stay in his current job long term? Questions I couldn’t answer.

B and his family, for the record, are a bit the opposite of mine in the real estate respect. They don’t really do mortgages and fixer uppers. B co-owns his little cottage with his mom, and they bought it outright. It is a few miles from me, very much not in the core downtown area. It takes me a half hour and two buses to get to his place. When we’d had our theoretical, half-joking conversation about living together a month earlier, I’d said, “Well, I can’t live at your place because it’s too far away from everything and I can’t walk anywhere from there.”

That night, after my parents left, we went to B’s for the weekend (he has air conditioning). It was getting dark, and we were sitting on his living room floor, testing out camping mats and sleeping bags for our road trip. I told him about the house, and how cool it would be if I could build one of those green, small, prefab homes on the lot. But of course, I make almost no money, and I save very little. It’s ridiculous to put that much thought into something that just won’t happen. I told him about my dad’s questions about us and about B. B doesn’t have answers about his job or if he wants to stay in his cottage forever. If he did want to move, he can’t afford a place downtown either. And then I was hearing him say, “…that’s why it makes sense for you to live here and not pay rent.” Without trying to re-create the whole conversation, I’ll say that we went back and forth and B discovered again how stubborn I am when something (my independence) is important to me. B has a car and a bike and right away suggested an adapted tricycle for me. I don’t have a driver’s license nor a bike, and I don’t think I will ever be comfortable with those modes of transportation. (Basically, traffic is dangerous, being in control of a vehicle of any kind is terrifying to me, and I much prefer to stay out of the whole thing and stick to the sidewalk.) We talked about my place or renting a new place and what would happen to his cottage then. We talked about how scary it is to move in together. B is very nervous that I’ll discover I don’t like him anymore. I love you and we’d adjust I tell him. I’m very nervous, as an introvert, to be around someone all the time. It’s hard to say “I need alone time” without the other person feeling hurt. We talked until it was so dark we could no longer see each other’s faces.

That night I barely slept, trying to imagine both of us, and all our stuff, fitting in B’s cottage. Trying to imaging life by bus instead of on foot, so far away from my beloved co-op grocery store… But people make sacrifices all the time to save money. It really makes so much sense. And we’d be living together. Are we ready for that? Right now, I like the idea of making a home and taking care of him (but am I romanticizing it? How soon will it feel like drudgery?). He commutes and works full time and really isn’t the greatest about feeding himself or keeping house. So things would fall along traditional gender lines, but I’m okay with that. If I were the one working full time, then he’d do more of the cooking. And he already said he’s open to a chore chart (hooray!). In the morning I said, “Big talk last night. What you were saying…I think it’s a good idea.”

Monday, B called me three times from work, trying to be purposefully annoying. “This is what it’s going to be like–if I’m there all the time.” =) So of course I called him again when he got home that night. Tuesday, I took the bus to his place when I was done with work. I’d never surprised him that way before, and certainly not on a weeknight. He’d said something on the phone about my being woken up every morning at 6:30 when he got ready for work, so I thought I should test it. When he opened the door, he was exhausted and definitely surprised. I let him know there was a bus I could get in the morning the same time he caught his. “You don’t have to go,” he said. “You can stay and sleep in.”  I said, “But I’d have to lock up.” And so, he gave me his spare key. I put it on my keychain, but I left with him in the morning, so the next day, I offered to give it back. “That’s okay,” he said.

That week I researched books about relationships, living together, communication, introverts. Interestingly, there are books out there for the introvert/extrovert pairing, but no one seems to think introvert/introvert needs any guidelines. I wondered if B would feel less nervous and more sure of us if we were engaged. I even almost said something, but in the end, I couldn’t say it out loud. For the first time, I let myself look up the process of getting married in our county and simple white dresses for a civil ceremony… (Mind you, I’m in no rush to actually get married. Maybe next May on our second anniversary…)

This past weekend, we actually said straight out: I would like you to move in/I would like to live here with you. He’d told his mom and his mom said that when his dad had asked her to move in, she had been disappointed that it wasn’t a proposal. And the only reason I know this of course, is that B related the conversation to me. Marriage has crossed both our minds, then. The weekend was so nice and relaxed. I think that now we’ve decided I’m moving in (but haven’t decided exactly when), we’re calmer. At least I am.

We went to the library and picked up some relationship books, and I’m going to read them aloud on our road trip, which will be 10 days of togetherness. A convenient trial run.


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