I had been ready to ditch the all-too-familiar streets of Philadelphia occupied with rotting liter and angry sports fans for the past four years. When the chance came to get the hell out, for even a measly three months, turning it down wasn’t an option.
I packed my bags for Manhattan to share a dorm room with three strangers, began the internship I had literally been dreaming of for the last three years and set out to learn the most daunting task of all: tackling the New York subway system.
For the first time in my life, I was out of my comfort zone, gloriously free to find my own freedom on my own time. I loved the possibility of getting lost in Brooklyn only to discover my new favorite band performing on a street corner, I loved the fact that it was my hard work and dedication that got me there, and I loved that no one or nothing in the city was part of my past.
I decided there really was no deciding to be done; I needed to move to New York, for good.
Here’s the problem: My boyfriend thinks he’s moving with me. Oh, and his bags are basically already packed. Like, he’s working an extra job to save money, considering transferring schools midway through his college career and knowingly accepting the fact that he would be sharing a closet-sized apartment with a self-proclaimed slob.
I didn’t mean to get into such a sticky situation. In fact, I usually suck at lying. But this wasn’t a “Hey I really like your new cowboy hat Uncle Paul” lie or even a “Duh, your awesome birthday present is just arriving late” lie. It was more like a series of false promise -- you know, the whole “I will love you forever, you’re my soulmate, let’s never leave each other” stuff that you say about a year deep into a relationship.
I sort of thought “Let’s move to New York” was along the same lines -- something you say when you love someone but that you can’t wholeheartedly know if you mean.
And it’s not that I don’t adore my beau. He is always concerned about my happiness, supports my iced coffee addiction and always lets me sleep on the good side of the bed. By definition, he’s a perfectly good boyfriend who any gal would be lucky to spend their Sundays lazily laying in bed while watching reruns of "The Office."
But I’ve had perfectly good boyfriends for the past five years of my life with no single-gal-swag breaks between. I didn’t plan it that way –- I guess I’m just a monogamous type of girl, the kind who avoids creepy guys in the bar like it’s a part-time job and who cringes at the thought of one more awkward dinner at the fucking Olive Garden.
Don’t I deserve a little time to be single and unafraid and strong and independent and all those other things Kelly Clarkson sings about?
I no longer want a boyfriend assuring me everything will be okay; I want to know things might not work out. I’m sick of hearing that I’ll succeed; I might fall on my ass and then trip and fall right back on the same spot I bruised. And I don’t want someone looking up directions when I get lost on the subway; I want to read the directions wrong and get super fucking frustrated!
To sum it up, I want to find my own way.
And, I must admit, I’m not ready for the commitment that comes along with splitting the rent with a significant other. Sure, I spend most nights cuddling up next to my boyfriend in Philly, but I have my own home to run to when the sound of him playing Modern Warfare is making me want to jump off his balcony. Plus, moving in together is just one step behind marriage, which is just one step behind kids, and the thought of any of those things makes me very, very queasy.
If I never live on my own, how the hell am I supposed to know if I can also manage worrying about someone who forgets to do his laundry so often that he just turns his clothes inside out?
But enough complaining; I need a route of action. I need to tell my boyfriend that no, I don’t want to go apartment hunting together and no, I don’t want to browse Anthropologie for things we would never be able to afford anyway. And I need to not break his heart in this process.
How do I possibly achieve this without the conversation resulting in an immediate breakup? I have not a goddamn clue, but it needs to be done before my last semester at college is over. My options so far consist of finding an illegitimate reason to break up with him before then, running away without consulting anyone I know, or sucking it up and moving in with him against my own will. My options so far suck.
I know what needs to happen: I have to be honest with him about my wants and needs and apologize for leading him on. And in reality, if he can’t support that, I probably should be walking away solo anyway. But I’m not sure I have the courage to do so. Is this is my first step into independence? And if so, why can’t it involve more shopping trips and sexual escapades like "Sex and the City" promised me?
I always thought my biggest stressor when moving from my hometown would be where to find an apartment or figuring out how to get all those damn bags from Trader Joe's home in one trip. Turns out, the scariest part is the prospect of breaking someone else’s heart.