Notes on cohabiting


It’s three weeks now until I move out of my flat and in with a boy.

“The Boy”, I might say, if that particular relationship shorthand didn’t make me want to claw my skin off. Besides, it’s misleading. ‘Boy’ suggests I might be hosting imaginary tea parties with an impish Peter Pan figure, while what I’ve got – Xbox habits and Hobnob consumption aside – is very definitely a man.

A man who I’ve spent three years making very, very certain I like enough to see every single day, even when he’s got a cold or a big spot or is doing his “why we need to renationalise the railways” speech again. We technically lived together for three months two years ago and managed to get through without a single argument despite all of his worldly possessions being piled up on my bedroom carpet - so by comparison this should be easy. But there’s still no guarantee we won’t wake up one day to discover we’ve turned into Al and Peggy from Married With Children.

So instead of dwelling on the unknown, we’re looking forward to all the little certainties. “When we live together,” we say, doing another night bus trip between E5 and N10, “I won’t accidentally leave my stuff at your house because there will only be one house and we’ll be in it.”

“When we live together,” we say, co-ordinating our schedules each week to find an evening we’re both free, “this won’t be a problem. I’ll just come home and THERE YOU ARE.” I know about 86 per cent of you are now laughing hollowly and going, ‘yeah, exactly – THERE YOU ARE. Every. Ruddy. Night’. But shhh, because we are adorably optimistic and you mustn’t burst our bubble yet.

There are other things too, things I didn’t know I even had feelings about until I realised they were going to change.

For example: all the food in the kitchen will be mine, to eat as I please. All mine! After seven years of flatsharing, seven years of whose-marmite-is-that-did-you-eat-my-chickpeas-well-it-was-going-off-ooh-they-won’t-notice-a-slice-my-tomatoes-were-posher-you-thief, the idea of a kitchen where nothing needs to be eaten covertly with the light off is a novelty of giddy proportions.

I’ll have a proper place to keep towels, that isn’t the back of my bedroom door. Sometimes they might even be dry! We’ll have the washing machine all to ourselves too, a luxury so rare that I might start doing every pair of tights individually. I’ll be able to sing in the shower, and whistle on the loo, and leave things in places without returning hours later to find they’ve been tidied away into the bin.

Of course, just like Monica in that episode of Friends, I’m focusing on these bits so that I don’t spend every day from now until the move weeping salty tears over my soon to be ex-flatmates, because they will no longer be there every day to lend me hairspray, say ‘yes you should definitely have another bowl of custard’ and laugh at terrible TV until we wee ourselves.

Now I have three weeks to teach The Man all of their many skills by way of replacement. And probably buy some new towels.