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Trouble in paradise

So, it seems that some home-wrecking hussy is trying to ruin the life I've built for myself. I refer to Lyndsey, a fellow member of OUSFG who is so desperate to live in Oxford after her current housing contract expires in July that she's willing to live with me, Archie and Lorna. The possibility was broached to me last night, in Archie's characteristically round-about way, that we could leave our house, and move with Lyndsey, Nick (Lyndsey's mate, but reasonably nice according to Archie) and William (another OUSFGer) into a six-bedroomed (of course) house nearby. Archie and Lorna have seen the place and were clearly impressed, and pitifully attempted to induce similar enthusiasm in me. *Sigh*. Sometimes I wonder if they know me at all. Even tinyjo, who is typically being enthusiastic about something and anxious for me to share this with her, and to whom I am unusually susceptible, is unable to achieve this. I fear that between them they have decided that this will be the impetus they need to change their unsatisfying lives, a new beginning. I may be more cynical or more realistic, but I fear that when they settle into their new rooms, they'll be disappointed to find that they're still themselves. I admit, I can see the attraction for Archie. It'd be nice for him to have someone around who likes him and is happy to offer support both emotional and nutritional. After all, I've got that already, and it's fantastic. I'm less clear about Lorna's motives, and I don't really see the attraction for me at all.

I thought I'd seen the most pitiful moment in this most pitiable of endeavours when Archie mentioned the 'large garden', knowing full well that the number of times any of us have been out in our garden in the year and three-quarters that we've lived in our house, except for the purposes of hanging up washing or evicting spiders, could be counted on the fingers of one snake. But then fell the most tragic of blows, as Lorna mentioned the 'nice big kitchen.' I couldn't cope. Lorna (famously food-shy) was telling me (famously too lazy to cook anything harder than a cheese toastie ever) that this house had a large kitchen, as if this would mean anything to any of us other than somewhere larger to store our kettle, toaster, and washing up. I nearly wept.

As far as I can see the desirability breakdown goes something like this:

FactorCurrent houseNew houseAdvantage
HousematesLorna and Archie, both of whom I really like living withAs current house, plus Lyndsey (nice, but very little overlap with my world-view), William (nice, but arguably better over email than in real life) and Nick (unknown factor).Current house
HouseworkSporadic attempts to be made when one is in the moodLyndsey seems... fastidious. At least, compared to us.Current house
BathroomOne. Brown.Two. Probably not brown.New house
Structural integrityLow. Plaster crumbling off walls.High. Walls intact.New house
KitchenSmallish. Uglyish. Underused. Adequate.Bigger. Prettier. Likely to be reasonably heavily used. AdequateNone
Living roomPokey. Knackered sofa (brown).Cool. Big. Underground.New house
BedroomToo small for all my stuff, with inadequate storage.Bigger. Possibility of double-bed.New house
InformationA phone line. Shitty TV reception. Terrestrial TV only.Cable modem. Cable TV. Bedrooms networked.New house
Visitor screeningAll residents ignore knocks deemed suspiciously close to the knocking patterns of those currently on the undesirables list.Unlikely to be sufficiently co-ordinated or callous to implement screening.Current house
Rent£290/month + £30 council tax each.£300/month + probably lower council tax each.None
Effort involvedNone.Significant.Current house
Strain placed on relationship with girlfriendReasonably low.Significantly higher.Current house


So, not the most tempting of prospects, overall. Especially given that I don't tend to give much of a shit about my immediate surroundings (as any of the benighted souls who've seen my room will readily testify.) I feel that some words of explanation about the last row are in order. Jo would like me to live with her, but accepts that, amongst other factors, I really like living with Archie and Lorna and don't want to leave them in the lurch. When I mentioned the possibility of this move at the pub last night, Jo got upset, on the grounds that this was clearly a less desirable situation for me, but still desirable enough that I preferred it to the prospect of moving in with her. Tricky. In retrospect, this was obviously not the best way of broaching the subject, but I had only heard the suggestion an hour or so before, and was still trying to get my head round it. Jo had to leave the pub early, so I was able to promise her that we'd discuss it tomorrow (*gulp*) and then solicit advice from my friends. Ruth, in particular, was understanding and helpful, but I didn't end up much closer to a resolution.

The thing is, we both know that I am dubious about moving in with Jo. Neither of us know quite why. Basically, I feel that the current situation, with us living separately but nearby and able to see each other every other day and sleep together on weekends, works. As far as I can tell. Certainly it's not ideal as far as Jo's concerned, but she doesn't seem to be too dissatisfied with the situation. Moving in together would introduce a number of potentially problematic factors. My attitudes towards housekeeping and food, for example, are significantly laxer than hers, which I fear would end up with her doing the lion's share of the cooking and cleaning (though I'd happily help, I'd have to be nagged a bit, and I'm not sure that either of us would like that.) Her rent is high enough that I could barely afford to pay half, which again could well end up with her making more of a contribution to our house than me. The thing is, she says she wouldn't mind, and I've got no reason to assume otherwise. But that just makes it feel worse, more like exploitation, however benign.

The other potential problem is that of personal space. I need it. She doesn't. OK, to be fair, really all we know is that she needs less than me, so it's always me that breaks first. I think this is my primary concern really. I don't have a 'good reason' for wanting to shut myself in my room and play computer games, listen to music or read on my own on a regular basis, and if our default state was to be together (as it would be if we lived in the same house), I would feel obliged to justify time I wanted apart, and, as I say, I can't really. I don't want her to feel rejected if, for example, I chose to stay up until 2am playing games instead of going to bed with her, but she gets tired much sooner than I do (and is much more sensible than I am) so tends to retire earlier.

Fuck. On reading this, it is rapidly becoming clear that I'm basically selfish. I want to be able to see Jo exactly when I want, on my terms, and then return to my slacker student-esque lifestyle whenever I choose. What a shit. I can justify things by, for example, citing a fear of the unknown spoiling a relationship that's currently great, and that's true. However, I fear that it may well be more of a justification than a reason. I wish I knew myself better.

We are to discuss this tomorrow. I'm worried. It's the only 'issue' we've ever had, really (we've never had an argument, and only a few discussions that have gotten at all heated, in our four and a third years). And this is the first time I've gone into a discussion like this not knowing what solution I wanted and how to get there. I'm sure things won't be as bad as I fear. I just genuinely don't know what to do for the best for myself, or for us.

Update: Email from Lyndsey. The house has gone to someone else. Part of me thinks 'Shit. If I'd waited, I'd never have had to discuss this with Jo at all.' However, Lyndsey's still looking for a house, and still has us in mind. And in many ways, this talk's been a long time coming (ever since Jo moved to Oxford, really) and though I'm a hard-core procrastinator, it's only fair to her that we discuss it. It might as well be now...

I also need to Talk to those spindly housemates of mine.

I fear a day of reckoning is dawning.

Ah, well. Mustn't fear change. Hail Eris, all hail Discordia. Or something.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
tinyjo
Feb. 7th, 2002 01:47 am (UTC)
Her rent is high enough that I could barely afford to pay half, which again could well end up with her making more of a contribution to our house than me

I guess I feel that because I get paid a hell of a lot more than you, I'd feel that I was taking advantage if I wasn't paying more of the rent etc than you particularly since I make more use of the amenities (I'm assuming I'd get pretty close to sole use of the garden and the kitchen)

us living separately but nearby and able to see each other every other day and sleep together on weekends
We don't really live nearby (nearer than Oxford to London, but still a good 15mins on the bike), I rarely get to see you more than twice a week and usually one of those times is in a social situation (e.g. pub) and we have to cut weekends short so that you can go home to deal with your mountains of washing or whatever.

I would feel obliged to justify time I wanted apart
I'm not sure I see why. Living in the same house wouldn't mean that we had to be together 24/7 particularly as I assume you'd want to sleep in your room in the week while I'm still commuting. How did you deal with the personal space etc issues when you spent almost a term living in my student room?
cleanskies
Feb. 7th, 2002 03:39 am (UTC)
exploitation, however benign, still feels like exploitation
I'm sure neither parties will be especially surprised to know that a lot of the issues here are ones I've had to deal with, though possibly it's easier for me, but issues like "I want to stay up later than the person I'm living with" and "I need space to myself" aren't trivial to solve, or unreasonable to want, because you're not just looking at a practical solution but one which works emotionally for both parties.

My list of ways to make this work has had a lot of refinement, and has acheived, well .... varying amounts of success, to be honest. But the main thing really is not to feel guilty or angry because living together isn't straightforward and obvious. It *is* a difficult issue.

On another cheery note, do you know that if Damian was looking for a place on his own he'd probably be able to afford somewhere, but the two of us together are unlikely to be able to buy a property? Three more thoughts like that and you can kiss goodbye to sleeping that night. Let's not talk about housing at the pub again, eh?

:i
andypop
Feb. 7th, 2002 02:46 pm (UTC)
Alex, you're not "a shit", and contrary to what you say it sounds like you know yourself well enough to know many of the basic, practical things that you like about your current life. As Jeremy says, these aren't trivial issues, not necessarily easy to solve, but, well - life is change, and it looks like the others are going to move house anyway. You're not enthusiastic about that, and unsure about living with Jo - that doesn't make you selfish, it just means you're going to have to decide which set of compromises to make. Either way you're negotiating with other people's needs and wants. Do it carefully and honestly and you'll be OK.

Says the guy with the perfect life...
(Anonymous)
Feb. 11th, 2002 06:28 pm (UTC)
Blow up all your possessions as your possessions end up owning you....

Slide

(Fight Club!)

Btw, I really loved the thirteenth floor but I wouldn't have bothered with Spy kids in the first place

- Kallisti
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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