He Said/She Said: Merging Lives

On a recent cold, damp morning, I woke up feeling anxious. My new job had been taking its toll, and when I found J. lying on the couch in the living room and not next to me, I became even more agitated. I ran out the door, shooting a snotty glance in his direction. Walking to the subway, I felt lost. Something was off and I couldn’t put my finger on it. J. called me repeatedly when I got to work, but I didn’t pick up. My mother finally IM’d me. “Answer your phone NOW.” And then I knew — my Mere, my grandmother, was gone.

During the heartbreak of losing my grandmother, J. never left my side; he made me feel safe, he made me feel loved.

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She had passed away as I stalked off to work that morning. J. had never met her. When I returned home, I was still in a fury, packing, looking for black dresses, pissed, pacing. I was so angry with him, so angry for what I don’t even know. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to cry and it would help me keep moving. So I pushed him away. But then my body reached empty and I collapsed in the bathroom, clutching the base of the toilet, dry heaving and sobbing for my mother and aunties. The cold of the tile floor provided comfort for at least 20 minutes before J. came in.

Blubbering, I told him he didn’t have to deal with me like this, and I could handle it on my own, and we’d discuss “us” in a few days when I returned. He ignored my nonsensical rants, unlocked my stubborn arms and wiped my face. He packed a bag for himself and the pup’s things and the next morning we headed to my childhood home to comfort my mother and attend the wake. Shaking, I realized I was truly thankful that this time I wasn’t alone.

At lunch after the funeral, my mother and her sisters surrounded me, with their romantic pearls of wisdom, “Rainbow, you have this habit of … testing … and never letting anyone too close for fear they may disappoint you and hurt you. Stop. Stop testing. Let your guard down, love is a major risk, but one worth taking…”

Watching someone else maneuver through obstacles, personal or emotional, that are not their own has always helped me see their true character. Years ago, after my father had suffered a serious stroke, my boyfriend at the time refused to come to the emergency room with me, explaining lamely, “I don’t want to see your dad like that.” And when I desperately needed a hug, his fingers barely grazed my back.

During the heartbreak of losing my grandmother, J. never left my side; he made me feel safe, he made me feel loved.

The apartment we share still doesn’t feel like home yet, but I have found my sanctuary — his former “manctuary,” the bathroom. I submerge myself in his huge tub and run the jets, dunking myself in the bubbles like a little kid and things don’t feel so bad. He’s gotten better at giving me my privacy, knowing the outcome usually entails smooth, shaved legs, perfumed body oil and manicured toes. We stay up late at night reading to each other, and sometimes I forget we share the townhouse with three other roommates … until someone locks themselves out or screams (there was a mouse!). Two months into this cohabitation and I’m continuing to sublet my apartment, thinking it may never be my single girl residence ever again.

So I’m sharing some of my insight into our growing love arrangement, and he has sent in his thoughts separately. Check out our He Said/She Said.

On Training Our Pup Cosimo has become our baby, sans diaper changing and breast feeding, which works for me. He truly is a little angel — very loyal and mild mannered (which is why I chose this breed to begin with). Being a Cane Corso, I wanted to teach him commands in his native Italian. Rainbow has tried to keep up with my system, pronouncing “cinque” (“5″ in Italian) about a dozen different ways, saying “cinco,” “chinky,” “chinkwa,” etc. I find her attempts endearing. At least, she’s finally pronouncing his breed name right — she used to say “Kanye Corso.” Well, I suppose he is a bit of a gold digger… I’m very thankful that it’s J. that gets up at 7 a.m. every morning to walk Cosimo. I hear a little whimper coming from the doggie bed and give J. a slight jab in the ribs, “Baby’s got to pee.” I’ve also been a little over-indulgent with the doggie treats. “You spent $15 bucks on lamb treats?!” But hey, he’s my baby, too, and I read treats help with training. Cosimo did try to jump into bed while we were having sex once and that kind of freaked me out, because someday he will weigh more than me. And other than his sock fetish, the occasional pee puddle and/or steaming pile, training hasn’t been that hard. He has truly become J.’s dog and I’m okay with that.
On Going to Church Together I’ve been attending this “church” for about four years now, on and off. It features an intellectual crowd who are all seeking something more in their lives and we meet in a rather ironic location for a church — at the NY Academy of Science on the 40th floor of World Trade Center 7. Darwin greets you as you walk in. I definitely wanted to introduce her to this place and I believe it has been a haven where she feels comfortable letting go. I love her spirituality. (I also love the wine and cheese nights).  When we first began dating, J. asked me to attend church with him. I’ll admit I went more out of curiosity than religious longing. As a former Catholic schoolgirl, I had dropped organized religion at high school graduation and prided myself on being a “spiritual” person. But honestly, his church has changed my thinking and lightened my emotional load. Attending Sunday service is like going to a Yankee game. What makes a ballpark so vibrant is being with 40,000 other fans rooting for the same thing – a win. Church feels the same way. Sure you can pray on your own, but it’s nice to be part of a community. I think sharing our faith has made our relationship stronger.
On Drinking I’ve tried to cut back on the binge drinking. The roomies still go out every weekend, but it gets old after a while, even in New York. I like to actually remember having a good time and not wake up the next day cursing Señor Patrón. We still enjoy our occasional cocktails together and laugh about the first few months when EVERYTHING was done with a strong drink in hand. It’s no longer needed and I’m grateful for that. We’re both drinking less and going to bed earlier than our early dating days. Some Saturday nights we’re in bed by 11 p.m., and I don’t think we’re bored; I think we’re content. We may get a bottle of wine for dinner or have a few drinks after work, but we no longer indulge in that crazy binge drinking that occurred when meeting each other out late night after a flurry of flirtatious texts.
On Managing Expenses Our country only has a $14.26 trillion deficit?! Hell, if I was running it, we would have had to sell the White House by now. Like the laundry, packing, and cleaning, I leave this significant task solely up to her. I’m a huge spender and she’s a responsible saver. I admire and envy that trait. It takes true discipline to actually have a nice chunk of change in the savings account instead of constantly being overdrawn. Although we’re saving money by living together, it’s easy to find ways to go through it, and we’re both SPENDERS. I’ve been making an active effort to budget our dollars so we can afford one of our future goals — owning a place of our own. Instead of ordering in, I do the grocery shopping and he does the cooking. I also haven’t bought one new item of clothing in months. Though we did splurge recently with the purchase of a new flatscreen TVfor our bedroom, but with three roommates, I felt this was a solid investment. I can’t be forced to watch one more “Tosh.O” episode!
Something That Has Surprised You That she’s still making that long trek home all the way to the Upper West Side after a long day’s work when her old place was more convenient and in a hipper area. She gave up a lot to live with me. I’m a lucky guy.  My mother shared that J. had sent her a few really sweet emails after the funeral to see how she was feeling. I didn’t ask him to do it and was touched by his thoughtfulness. He knows how much I worry about her, and it showed me he’s sharing that worry and being compassionate.
On Planning the Future Who knows where life will take us? I never thought I’d be in a serious relationship at 27 with a Mastiff puppy to care for. It’s been an exciting ride thus far and it’s fun not to know what’s around the next bend on life’s twisting road. I hope that we will soon be co-pilots in our OWN Mercedes (and not in our parents…) We’ve discussed vacationing in Italy, a first condo, a second home, kids, living in the suburbs vs. the city, working corporate vs. entrepreneurship … but plans are just that. It’s more important to take it one day at a time, because just when I think I’ve got it figured out, the Twirl-A-Whirl of life takes me for another dizzying spin. I believe you never truly know a man until you’ve seen him through four seasons and I’m getting closer to that every day. One thing I know for sure is I’m in love and that’s good enough for today.

This article is sponsored by “Romantications” at Royal Palms; however, the article is independently produced by The Frisky and the opinions and views expressed by the writers are their own.