“It’s hilarious how tied up [our niece] was in the idea of having a sister, I think little boys are cute. Watch, God will give us triplet girls for that…”
“As long as they don’t act like the girls I live with. If they do, I’m sending them back.”
“Come on, darling, they’ll be half me.“
– C. and J.
Readjusting to having flatmates after living with a spouse is quite interesting. I’m lucky, because Margot’s a great flatmate. She’s funny, driven, seemingly indestructible, and unfailingly clever, one of those people who you just like being around because you’re practically guaranteed a good time, even if you’re doing nothing. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an adjustment. She is, after all, not my husband.
Our recreation is totally different, for one thing.
For example, Margot goes dancing and when she invites me along I decline, because where we live is a notorious marriage market, and frankly, I’m glad I’m out of all that! Nights out dancing are no longer fun: firmly not flirting with the overeager boys, disclaiming my taken status when asked to dance (in the interest of full disclosure) and trying to hide a grin when they back off hurriedly, as if they are complicit in adultery. I went dancing once or twice with girlfriends when J. and I were dating or engaged, but it was distinctly not as fun as it was as a Singleton. A good chunk of the dancers were hunting (aggressively) for a mate and the rest of us, only there for a good time, were in the way of that mission. Now I’m married, mission complete, and I’m a false start which they will resent should I wander into their path. It’s all frightfully funny, but not necessarily the way you want to spend an evening.
And for another thing, we’re at very different points in our lives – she’s recently graduated and job hunting, I’m (relatively) settled. She’s constantly putting in applications for a full time teaching job, and I admire her for it, but I’ve got a job. I’m all sympathy and willing to ponder the mysteries of our generation’s day and age…but my trials and concerns are different from hers. I am, in short, an old woman. I must be the most boring flatmate ever, but she puts up with me, and we get along great!
J., on the other hand, lives with two women who are daily growing in seeming hatred towards one another. That too must be the oddest feeling, living with two feuding females, neither of whom he’s related to as he tries desperately to stay out of it. It’s a foreign experience for him, he’s only ever roomed with other men and people he was obligated to love (me or his siblings). I’ve taken to calling his updates on the battle “Dispatches From the Front.”
I never got into a fight with any of the girls I lived with, it never seemed worth the energy. If you didn’t get on well, in six months one of you could move out and never see the other person if you so desired. There was no need for impoliteness or other unfortunate behavior in the meantime. I was the flatmate baffled when another girl would suddenly collapse weeping on my shoulder demanding if she’d done something wrong because I hadn’t spoken to her in an hour. I was the girl who unintentionally sparked a civil war in one flat because I put the newly washed silverware into the drawer in the wrong order (forks, knives, spoons, instead of the other proper way around), who was oblivious to the growing rage until the girl I’d offended demanded if I’d been raised in a zoo, flung all the cutlery across the counter, and promptly burst into tears. I patted her awkwardly, “there there-ed” a while, and promised never to put the forks on the left hand side again.
Margot’s gloriously sane by comparison. I like her lots.