Since we moved to the loft/studio/live-n-work unit, things have changed for the better ... and some for the worse. I can't remember if I said that before, but after 6 years living abroad, this is the first time we're on our own. Just me and him and the cats. I don't want to dare say it's anything other than wonderful, because that's all it has been for most of the time. But reality always warms her way into one's lives eventually, and now there are no flatmates to blame for the unfairness and arduousness of it all.
In one sentence: when shit hits the fan, sometimes I just feel like killing him.
Don't get me wrong, though. I am doing nothing more than venting here, because almost 8 years down the road, in terms of relationships I can honestly declare that I am NOT a quitter. Just because in times of trouble, when the clothes rail breaks for the second time and everything is gathering dust on the floor, when the Ikea cupboard is faulty once again and we have to return it, when the washing machine is leaking, the ceiling is leaking, the shower is leaking, the bloody London sky is leaking!, it doesn't mean I don't want to be with him anymore. Being - as in the act of existing - without him is a condition I have no intention of pursuing ever again. This is one of the major changes I've gone through since I started seeing him, because my original nature (if I can put it this way - surely one's nature changes along the way?) is one of a quitter. It's in my genes. For most of my teen and early adulthood years, when there was a remote possibility, a looming idea that things might go wrong, I would simply jump in and out like a frog who jumps inside a boiling pan. That is a classic example of immaturity: someone who just doesn't want to deal with too much pain. It's okay to get slightly injured, hurt and cry for a couple of days, but then life is too short to stir away in a pool of sorrow. Bring fresh blood in, please.
Then, I met him, and when it comes to loved ones, he is not a quitter. He just doesn't switch off his phone and disappear when jealousy and bitterness and anxiety broke all at once. He doesn't run off to someone else's arms, someone else's smell to forget the frustration. He was the first person to smile straight in the middle of a row and say "ok, I'm sorry, lets start all over again".
He says, "Even better, let's just forget everything", because he probably knows quitters like me have elephant's memory and tend to build a wall around themselves against eventual threats.
So gradually, brick by brick, he razed my wall down and taught me that love is about sticking together, specially in times of hardship.
On the other hand, I'm convinced that I was not the only one who learnt important lessons throughout our almost eight years together. I, with my extreme tendencies to over-analyse stuff, have always needed to talk things through, specially when I'm not putting them down as rantings in a journal or blog. Which means that whenever he would hold me by the collar to not run away, I would sit there and say "Okay then, let's NOT start all over again. I wanna talk about it." The quintessencial, old-school "Let's discuss our relationship." I like to believe he is not like the stereotypical man who avoids this kind of situation. Instead, he simply was, years ago, unfamiliar with this habit. It certainly became a habit. And because of these two rules (1. do not avoid problems, and 2. confront and talk them through), established steadily by both, we managed to change our "original natures" - at least, a little.
Today, when life comes crashing in with bills to be paid, cats to feed, cleaning to be done, things to get fixed, projects to be carried out, all accompanied by the ghosts of failure and frustration, we try to stick together.
And talk it through.