Jeff: November 6, 2006

Jeff RothenbachWe have taken the plunge! Actually, we moved into our apartment about six weeks ago, but let me take you back over some of the ground we have covered.

One of the things that I like about our new apartment is the kitchen. In my old apartment, the refrigerator door opened up within two inches of the counter on the other side of the kitchen. This was the kind of place where you can help me with the dishes by staying in the living room. But the new apartment has a nice spacious kitchen with all appliances included. Rolf, however, owns a shining beast of a fridge, that doesn’t quite fit in the nook designated for said appliance. We briefly considered the idea of taking out the landlord’s refrigerator (filling the space with a cabinet from IKEA) and bringing Rolf’s fridge in, installing it in the clearing on the other end of the room. This would mean that we couldn’t have anything else there, such as my microwave cart/wine rack or a small liquor cabinet (both of which I own and want to bring with me), so the idea was dismissed immediately. Shortly after the signing of the lease, Rolf called me to ask if we could reconsider the idea of bringing in his refrigerator. I was trying to be delicate, but firm about this. I had begun to feel that the kitchen was mine, and this was ruining MY plans for MY kitchen. After a short conversation (that would be explained to me later), we reaffirmed our decision to use the landlord’s fridge and give away/sell Rolf’s.

Of course, being the practical guys that we are, we decided to open a joint checking account to pay our common bills. Let me remind you at this point that I have only been on the joint accounts of my parents (the old “if anything should happen to me…”), never with a partner. We went to the bank one afternoon to take care of this, which we handled without incident. However, as we walked out of the bank, the reality of what just happened hit me like a brick wall. I suddenly got very quiet, which began to worry Rolf. I explained that I was a little freaked out at the thought of this joint checking account. He then replied that the phone call the other day where he asked if we could keep his refrigerator was his moment of panic. Luckily, our moments came on different days, and we were able to talk the other one off the ledge, so to speak.

I think the ledges got higher as we moved in together. OK, maybe my ledges got higher. As I said earlier, we are practical guys. And as practical guys, we decided that we should not both move on the same weekend. Rolf offered to let me go first, but I knew that the task of packing would be a bit overwhelming, so I let him go first to allow myself an extra week. And a half. I would have pushed the date back further, but that would require me to pay rent in two places. A leisurely move would be so much easier for me. But, practicality can only be pushed aside for so long.

The weekend of Rolf’s move arrived, and I packed a duffel bag and headed over to the new place (This would be the last time I sleep in my old apartment). Suddenly, our big spacious two-bedroom apartment was not looking big enough. Once the bed was moved in, we only have room for two nightstands, but no dresser. The closets were full and the office was beginning to seem, well, claustrophobic. It was during these first few days of arranging and unpacking that the pot began to simmer.

While trying to arrange the office furniture, Rolf was pointing out that he needed to move his desk over a bit to make room for the table that holds the scanner and printer. I started to get quiet, which Rolf has learned to pick up on as a bad sign. He stopped short and asked me what I was thinking. I told him that I feel like I am trying to put one thing in this room, and it won’t fit. He immediately decided that the table would go to Out of the Closet (for those outside the LA area, Out of the Closet is a chain of thrift stores run by and for the benefit of AIDS Healthcare Foundation) and he would find some other arrangements for the office toys. It was very reassuring to me that he understood and fixed the problem so quickly. Crisis averted for now, but the flame was only lowered. The pot was not off the stove yet.

A few days after his move, he left for a business trip. After seeing me in “project manager mode” on our summer vacation (see below), he made a poorly-timed joke about the timing of his trip not being better if he had tried. At this point, I found myself alone in LA, trying to move about 14,000 cubic feet of boxes, belongings and furniture by myself. Yeah, my parents offered to help, but…and I love them dearly, but…my father is the local chairman of his union, which is code for “let me pull out the contract so we can go over the long list of things I can’t/won’t do” and my mother has health problems and can’t carry more than a few pounds. So once again, I was alone moving 18,000 cubic feet (it has grown since I started writing this, and will probably top 25,000 before I finish) of boxes, belongings and furniture all by myself.

On Wednesday of move-week 2006, I found myself having a complete meltdown. After a long day at work, an evening of running around holding myself together and then a stop at the old apartment to grab more stuff, I got to the new apartment to find that a friend of one of my neighbors had parked in my space. As it turns out, Thursday is trash day on our block, so many parking spaces on the street were occupied with trash bins, forcing me to park around the corner and walk back and forth three times to unload my truck. I left a psycho note on the windshield of the violating vehicle (which I still need to apologize for), then sat at the dining room table and cried uncontrollably for about five minutes. The flame was back up on high again.

Rolf came back from his trip, and we spent the next day moving the rest of my stuff to the new place. A few days later, Rolf suggested that we go to IKEA to get a bunch of things that we would need for the apartment. I immediately responded that if he just showed me in the catalog what to pick up, I would get it next week when I am in the area. This puzzled him. I am usually the one who likes to shop, so why the sudden disinterest? Once I calmed down, I pointed out that his furniture is all intact and arranged and he is mostly unpacked, while I have some clothes hanging in the closet, but am still mostly living out of boxes. I believe my exact words were, “It’s just like your old apartment, except my name is on the mailbox now.” We talked it out, and he realized that I was feeling a little displaced and out of sorts. He very quickly dismissed the trip to IKEA, so I could spend all day Saturday unpacking and arranging the kitchen. He also pointed out several things that are mine around the apartment (apparently, the mailbox comment hit him harder than I expected/intended.). The pot had boiled over, but there was no lasting damage.

A couple of months ago, someone asked me if we had ever fought. Before we moved in together, we hadn’t. I did begin to worry about what would happen when we did eventually have a difference of opinion, but I see now that I was worrying for nothing. Rolf is a completely reasonable, intelligent, understanding guy. And none of that changes when we disagree. You gotta love a man like that!

And for the record, I will eat those words I said earlier about a week on vacation is like living together for a year. It has only been six weeks and this is way more than six days, even in Germany. And no jet lag. And at the end of the day, I know he is a keeper.

About

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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