I arrived home after a long day at work. I was looking forward to seeing my dog, Hazel and cracking open a beer before plopping on my couch for some Netflix binge watching. As I walked into my house, something felt off—something felt different. My living room had been rearranged. The couch was up against the wall facing the door, the two reading chairs were now in the window nook where the TV used to be…where was my TV? It was against the wall to the left of the door. And my whole house smelt lemon-y fresh. Had a thief broke into my home and decided that I needed some interior decorating help more than they needed my electronics?
Then, from the kitchen I heard “Babe, I changed the living room a little—I hope you like it.” A little? Like it? What was happening!? My girlfriend of three months, Allie, appeared in the doorway between the living room and dining room, smiling, beer in hand. “I had to move some of your kitchenware to fit mine and I decided to give you the bigger closet in the other bedroom for your clothes. Oh! And I cleaned, because let’s be honest, your place needed it.”
I stood still in my doorway staring at my living room and her. To be honest, I could not argue with her about my place needing cleaning—desperately. I was a 26-year-old bachelor who still thought it was totally justifiable to buy new dishes and utensils instead of washing the ones that had fallen into the black hole that was my kitchen sink. But, I was stunned silent by this unexpected surprise u-hauling. Had we talked about her moving in? Was I present for this conversation? Is that what was happening here? Did she move into my house during the 10 hours I was at work?
Part of me was thoroughly impressed. I mean she should consider starting a moving business. She had moved her belongings, unpacked, and seamlessly redecorated and combined her things with mine in one work day. Then, there was the rest of me that was full of confusion, shock, anger, bewilderment, and pure panic. Naturally, in the healthiest move I could make, I took a deep breath and said “Oh, okay. Thanks for cleaning—you didn’t have to do that. Did you take Hazel for a walk yet?”
“No, I let her out to go pee a couple hours ago, though. And you’re welcome!” She replied, cheerily.
I grabbed Hazel’s leash and took her out for a walk. I asked Hazel, “Did we agree to this? I mean, I like her a lot and I enjoy her company, but this is not what I meant when I said she could stay with us for a bit while she looked for jobs here. What do I do, Hazel?” Hazel spun around sniffing the ground wildly and then took a large dump on the neighbor’s lawn. In what felt like a metaphoric gesture, I put my hand in a plastic bag and picked up her shit, silently, before we continued our walk.
I did not tell Allie that all of this made me uncomfortable and anxious and claustrophobic. I didn’t know how. A week prior, we had talked about her desire to find a job in Kalamazoo and how challenging it was to commute over an hour just for interviews. She had asked if she could stay with me for a little while until she found a job and then she would find her own place. In my own mind I assumed this would mean a suitcase with some clothes and toiletries and some more quality time with her, which all sounded fine. Based on the physical evidence, it seemed that Allie had interpreted our discussion very differently. VERY DIFFERENTLY.
Weeks went by and I still did not tell Allie that I felt a miscommunication had happened. I didn’t disclose how unhappy I was of the resulting arrangement. Instead I got short and distant in our exchanges, I picked small fights that turned into big fights, I pushed every button of hers that I was aware of, and I took out my frustrations on her. And she noticed.
One day, I came home from work and as I pulled into the driveway, I noticed Allie’s car parked on the street packed to the brim with her belongings. Then I noticed Allie sitting on my porch, looking down at her feet. I knew what was coming. I parked my car, took a deep breath, and walked down the driveway toward the porch. “So I guess we need to talk?” I greeted her.
“This isn’t working.” She said without looking up from her feet.
“Yeah, it really isn’t.” I agreed.
We talked about why it wasn’t working and by the end of the fifteen-minute conversation we parted ways. But, the surprise u-hauling was still not brought up as one of the reasons we were breaking up. If you want to know the full story, you’ll have to wait for, you guessed it, the book.
 Seriously, Allie should start a moving business because she moved in to my house in a work day and moved out in a work day—that shit is impressive!
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