Paul Nakayama discovers what cohabitation really means – plucked eyebrows and all.
I’d never lived with a woman prior to getting married – you know, like 24-7 in the same tiny apartment for a period longer than a summer. It was never an intentional or conscious decision (and definitely not a deep-seated fear of commitment), but rather just circumstantial: Work, school, long distance or protective parents with access to firearms often provided enough of a reason so that living with a girlfriend just never made sense.
As a result, I’d grown accustomed to being a bachelor and having the freedom to dance naked in the living room or belt out George Michael songs in the shower. (Hey, having the freedom to do something and actually doing it are very separate things.) So when I got hitched almost a year ago, it wasn’t the big picture stuff, like a house or kids, that first occupied my mind.
No, I obsessed over the logistics of cohabitation after decades of going solo. What would change or need changing, I wondered. Little did I know that all that thinking and overthinking was for naught – because living with a woman? You become a tenant in her world, and you find yourself adjusting to her daily routine and idiosyncrasies.
At first, it was the little everyday details that made me nervous. For example, when my wife-to-be and I first started living together, I worried incessantly about the toilet, or more specifically, the fact that we only have one bathroom in our apartment. Would we be able to coordinate our schedules? Would the lingering smell of my biobreak wafting through the air make her regret her decision to marry me? Is love that fragile, I asked myself. But before long, you get used to each other and recognize that all humans defecate, even your beautiful wife, and if she does it, then hell, so can I.
Phase One of living together came and went smoothly. And then came Phase Two – the bigger lifestyle changes. As an aspiring screenwriter, my day basically went like this: Wake up around 11 a.m., squeeze in video games some time before 10 p.m. and then write until 5 a.m. Rinse and repeat. Once I got married, I had to figure out how to adjust my sleeping schedule but still live somewhere in my creative sweet spot. Here’s how my day goes now: The wife usually wakes me up around 8 a.m. by asking me, “Are you awake?” all while vigorously shaking my body like it’s a martini. I’ll work my freelance job until dinner. Watch some TV or a movie with the wife until 10 p.m. Write until 1 a.m. Wait for the wife to fall asleep and then sneak out of bed to play video games until 2 a.m. I figure, hey, I’m an adult now, and this is how it works. And as it turns out, I’m way more productive as a human than a vampire.
Finally (as far as I can tell thus far), there’s Phase Three, which just sort of sneaks into your life. It’s all for the good, really, but you kind of feel like Rip Van Winkle waking up to find that your entire world has changed around you. Your wardrobe no longer just consists of graphic tees and really old denim (although you do wonder how a pink dress shirt found its way into the closet). Your furniture slowly went through a makeover, and the new stuff isn’t all black. Your eyebrows are mysteriously trimmed or plucked. If you get blackheads, then instantly fingers will find them and squeeze them to death. While you’re watching TV, you’ll wonder why your forehead feels moist, and when you look in the mirror, there’s a gelatinous beauty mask hugging your face like it’s your aunt.
You’ll find yourself doing laundry once a week and wearing the good underwear all the time. You can’t remember the last time you drunk-ate Jack-in-the-Box, and yet having a life partner, you’re not so concerned with your flab anymore, so you find yourself eating a lot more carbs and remembering that you really like it. There’s plenty more to list, but I think you get the picture.
Despite what you might be thinking at this point, here’s the thing: I dig living with my wife. These changes aren’t torture or upsetting, like I’d heard from some friends in the past (well, the eyebrow tweezing is, but there’s no stopping that). It’s not some war of attrition where I’ve just thrown my hands up in defeat and screamed, “Fine, change me already!” It’s been more like the first time I ate uni, where initially I turned my nose up, but after actually tasting it, I realized it was buttery good.
The best part is that, if you ask her how it was living with me, she’ll probably have a similar story of how I’ve influenced her (whiskies, geek culture, video games, Haruki Murakami novels and ramen – just to name a few on my own scorecard). And I think that’s really the point about living with someone you love, right? That, and it’s much more fun to watch her dance naked in the living room.
This story was originally published in our Fall 2015 issue. Get your copy here.