Rolf: June 8, 2006

Rolf DannerEver since we’ve started to date, I’ve wondered how different Jeff and I are and at the same time how much alike some of our life experiences have been. I see this combination of the completely new and the familiar as the main reason why the last eight months have worked so well for our relationship and why we are now getting serious about moving this to another level of intimacy.

I’ve never lived with a lover or spouse, although through most of my life I’ve shared dwellings with either family or roommates. I made my first serious attempt of settling down in early 1998, just after accepting my first “real” job out of graduate school. I hadn’t found the man of my dreams over the previous five years of coming out and dating and decided to switch to the “build it and he will come” strategy. If I couldn’t find the dream guy to buy a house with, at least I could buy the house. So I bought a cute two-bedroom house in the hills above the San Gabriel valley and redirected my spare energies to decorating the perfect nest. That I had come across a very sweet man to help me paint the place was very soothing to my freshly broken heart. Unfortunately Matthew disappeared soon thereafter from my life and only several years later, during an awkward conversation over coffee would he explain that “he wasn’t gay after all and was getting married.” Aside from a few very turbulent months of sharing the place with another friend I lived alone in the lovely house in the hills. At least I learned that this particular combination of a New York raised Cuban and my German background made for a stormy and utterly incompatible mix.

After six years of waiting for my man to appear in my living room, it was time for a more direct approach. Putting the place on the market and ultimately changing jobs was an easy decision, though a lot of work to do. I’m still amazed at how much stuff accumulates in a place over time. For the last two years I’ve lived in a sunny, though unremarkable one-bedroom apartment in the heart of West Hollywood. Ready for action though a good part of my cautious self remained. I would have never guessed that I would find my man right in front of me among the friends I had all along.

By then I had not only emptied out attic, basement and closets of no-longer useful baggage, but had also dealt with a fair amount of emotional ballast. That’s why, when Jeff made it clear from the beginning that he was looking for a long-term relationship, I responded in kind. It still took me some time, after meeting my in-laws and the rest of the family to get to the point where I thought, yeah, this could work

Which brings me to the bit that makes me a little hesitant about sharing the same walls with my adorable man. To make it short, we have very different housekeeping styles. German housewives seem to rule strong in my genes and for me a clean and tidy room stands for order, calm and sanity. When my inner world is upset, I find peace in ordering my outer world. Did I mention I’m a Virgo? We aren’t called organized, efficient and yes, sometimes a touch of a tight-ass for nothing. Jeff on the other hand, isn’t much bothered by stacks and piles, and I think he likes to store things where he can see them. Or could, if there was more floor space. While having lots of provision and extra stuff around makes him feel safe, it makes me nervous.

With this in mind, it was clear to us that we needed a bit of extra room. I hope that the extra elbow room of a two-bedroom apartment will make our transition into cohabitation easier. I also love the symbolism of truly creating a space for the two of us that’s different from each of our single lives. Luckily, we are pretty compatible in our aesthetics. It’s surprising how easy it is to find common ground between Jeff’s Japanese heritage and my German upbringing.

So does anybody know of a two-bedroom apartment in West Hollywood with the standard features for a sophisticated gay couple? Hardwood floors, a view, perhaps a balcony, kitchen with lots of cabinets for storage and good counter space, two covered parking spaces, in a building with charm and character, and, of course, reasonably priced?


This series of posts was first published in 2006 and 2007. Jeff and Rolf are now happily living together. For those of you who have missed it the first time around and for everyone who’d like to read it again, here is the full story line in an updated format.

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