At 22, I thought that my big Quarterlife-Crisis change would be starting to navigate the big, scary Real World, B.S in hand. Instead, the economy solved that issues for me by making me generally unemployable (who ever got a Liberal Arts degree, anyway?) and only a few months freshly out of college, my big life change ended up being a drastic switch from The Single Life to The Coupled Life. Between the two of us, self-imposed loners with a sarcastic, highbrow bend and a serious commitment to Netflix and alienating ourselves from decent society, we managed to take two fairly boring lives, combine them, and make one chock-full-o'-nuts life together. Hence why I have been fairly MIA for the last few months. Hence why I now have friends IRL. Hence why tonight, while he's gone from the nest and I am too mindlessly bored to continue watching yet another Katherine Heigl movie, I've decided to let you know that I remain alive, just a little bit less single than I used to be, and a little bit more grown-up.
All kidding aside, what have I learned about relationships in the past few months cannot be neatly summed up in a single blog post, or in any number of blog posts, for that matter. (Believe me-- I have tried. And tried and tried and tried. My Drafts box is both imposing and impressive now.) Our relationship, like most others, is too complex and nuanced to break it down into categories and subcategories: What I Think About Him, What He Thinks Of Me, When An Acceptable Amount Of Time Is In Which To Say "I Love You," And Who Said It First (neither of those actually happened to be good societal standard norms, but fuck it), How We Met Each Other's Families, The Fact That All My Friends For Once Agree I Have Met A Suitable Man And Would Probably Take Him Over Me Were We To Split, Our First Mini-Getaways As A Couple And How To Survive A Vacation With Your Partner When Your Forget Your Blowdryer, What To Say When You're Caught Red-Handed, How To Breathe And Just Let Shit Roll Off Your Back, What Happens When The Past Sometimes Doesn't Stay In The Past, How Cooking For Two Requires More Math Than You're Bound To Remember From High School Calc Than Cooking For One Does, and The Proper Way To Wake A Snoring, Blanket-Stealing Man Up.
Instead, I've gone back to my pre-schooling basics to make this relationship work where others before have failed. We share things: My car. His house. The grocery list. A full-size bed (built for cuddling when you're respectively 5'3 and 6'3,) and one blanket-- well, he has a tendency to get all Oldest Child about it and steal it, so I've resorted to His and Hers duvets. Colds-- he just got over one; kindly has passed it onto me. We compromise: He, a full-bore Mac Man, has learned to navigate around my PC. I've given up eating quite as much red meat as I used to to better suit his vegetarian diet and our shared meals. He's getting used to having to repeat questions. I'm slowly getting used to actually listening to the answers. The other day, I caught him kiss my cat on the head, not sneer and verbally demean him per usual. It touched me in a very special place. (No, not that special place.) Basically, as I am dying to tell all of my ex-professors, the things I learned in hallowed campus classrooms were NOT, in fact, the lessons that have helped me survive life after college; it was the lessons my parents taught me pre-K and everything else I picked up from dating in dorms, renting as a roommate, and romancing the reluctant and recalcitrant rascals of my previous Single Life that have got me where I am today: Happy, well-adjusted, cohabitating, and in love.
...And yes, still funemployed. But writing pro bono for a few publications, and one newly-created nationally-syndicated women's magazine! (I guess some of those publishing and entrepreneurship classes did come in useful, after all.)
Long story short, I spent 4 years of my life and nearly a cool $100K to learn that to make it in life, you have to be funny enough to ensnare a man's attention, quirky enough to keep it, well-versed enough in the kitchen to feed him once you've got him, persevering enough to play hausfrau for him, relaxed enough to drink beers with his buddies, feminine enough to keep his blood boiling even after a few months in, well-read enough to read the labels on his shirts before laundering them, and educated enough from your previous Single Life to be able to introduce him to new things, places, and experiences.
He, in return, has got to love you enough to find all of this amusing and endearing.
In other words, stay in school, because that's where all the good men are.