If you know me in real life, or you've read my blog once or twice, you've probably gathered that I am a typical self-styled progressive girls' girl. I would rather slit my liberal wrists than forsake a gal pal evening; if a lady friend calls me up for an event, I go, no questions asked. Having lost a few "former besties" to their relationships with their significant others, which I find to be an infuriating display of disloyalty, I like to say that I at least try my damned hardest to put my relationships with females - although, it would be more appropriate to say friends of any gender who I am not intimate with - first. I find nothing more easy to commit to.
This seems like a simple approach, doesn't it?
But as we all get older and take on grown-up responsibilities - such as taking part in professional organizations, pursuing our independent interests, or even making time to clean our apartments before they get so filthy we decline eating indoors or doing our laundry before we are forced to wear that ridiculous last-resort shirt that we keep meaning to put in the goodwill pile, but don't, because of exactly these situations, to work - our schedules become tightly packed, and we wish the day grew longer proportionately to the amount of tasks we try to cram into it. We run out of time, and we have to prioritize.
So, assuming that I don't have a fundraiser or a schmoozy happy hour to attend, do I spend my Friday night with my friends, or with my boyfriend? I got one of those a while ago, and January marked our first month of very unexpected cohabitation. What I can honestly say on that topic is that it hasn't been boring, but it has been a huge learning experience.
Despite the fact that I am a completely monogamous and committed woman, I often find it difficult to own up to my relationship status. All I have to say is "I have a boyfriend. We live together." It's pretty simple... but, there is always a but. I find myself avoiding the conversation about my personal life like the plague, going so far as changing the topic completely abruptly and very conspicuously once asked. (I should footnote that even in single times I don't experience the may-I-holler phenomenon, thus I am in no way pussyfooting around the relationship status topic with a potentially interested individual. Nope. Just regular ol' individuals.)
One might conjecture, am I ashamed of my boyfriend? Hell no, he's a total keeper! Not only is he a babe and a sweetheart, but just today he burst into the living room to inform me about the ironically similar-sounding names of the Shoah (pr. shō-ä), the Hebrew word meaning calamity but now commonly used for the Holocaust, and the Showa (pr. shō-(w)ä), a period of Japanese history under Emperor Shōwa which literally means "period of enlightened peace"! That's the kind of stuff I live for.
No. I am embarrassed for myself, because even though this falls into the completely irrational category, I have always equated a woman being in a relationship with a man as a show of weakness. (Incidentally, any other gender permutation in a relationship is A-OK, so this just further underlines that the problem is me, not you.)
Is it the time when I grew up? The 80's and 90's, when women were seriously making a break for it, and the way my best friend the television capitalized on the phenomenon got really stuck in my head?
Is it my upbringing by a single mother, my heartbreak when my first college best friend started to spend time exclusively with her boyfriend, the disappointment I've felt in subsequent close girlfriends who have ditched their lives, their dreams, their passions, their friends, when a new dude showed up on the scene?
Probably all. What I know is this: I am learning for the first time how to reconcile my own personal stigma of the "girlfriend" role with the fact that I am, in fact, a girlfriend. And I should probably be really explicit about this if I plan on remaining one, which all my natural instincts tell me to cease and desist immediately, but luckily my more important organs have decided to learn to ignore.
The cohabing is a new chapter in my life, and a new topic on my blog as well, since this is the first time I've talked about personal relationships here. I am going to do what I always advocate for others to do: I am going to own my actions and choices.
I am officially expanding my list of interests to: disasters, politics, women's issues, food, and my relationship. Stay tuned. I promise I am not going to write anything squishy-mushy, but I MAY post a video of myself dancing with an upside-down mushroom-stuffed chicken, if you're nice.