Shacking Up

Joe has such a romantic way of putting things.

When the subject of moving in together was first mentioned, I think we had been dating for about 4 months. The “L” word had finally been dropped, and we were spending more evenings together than apart. He had moved into a cheaper apartment sometime in August, for which he signed a one-year lease, and I had been in the same too-big-for-one-person apartment for 3 years.

Now that his cafe was open, his 12-hour shifts were ending around 10pm, and he routinely called as he left work, debating with himself whether to come all the way downtown to me after stopping to feed the cats, or stay at his place and fall asleep on the couch. More often than not, he was falling asleep on his couch, completely wiped.

One night, having dinner at my place, he was wandering around looking in all of the nooks and crannies of my 100-year-old apartment.

“Where should the kitty litter box go, do you think?”

I stopped stirring the pasta sauce, staring straight ahead at the white-tiled wall behind the stove.

“The what?”

“The boys’ litter box. Should it go in this closet here, or the closet between the bedroom and the bathroom?”

I may or may not have shaken a spoon at him, spraying tomato sauce in all directions.

“No way! Joooooe…. no! Nope. Nu-uh. Not happening. Cats! Here! Ha!”

Not very good arguments. I know. Joe knew too. So a couple weeks later he started bringing over a box or two each night. Putting things, the gaudiest things, right the middle of my somewhat-curated displays. I had a brand new couch, and two brand-new chairs and a desk, that I adored! I had things that matched! I had things that were pretty colours, that all went together. I’d shake my head and say no, but he would just laugh and say “oh Gina, but look how nice it looks together! My crap, and your crap.”

Then it got real. Real real. November 19th we had decided was the “Big Time Bobandy, Joe Brings the Boys and It’s Official” Move-In Day. He had found a subletter.

Over the weeks leading up to the 19th, I managed to go through all of the spaces where I had stuffed all my random crap over the past 3 years, and made room for a second person. I think we donated 3-4 bags of clothing, random appliances, shoes, and jewellery. My bookshelf was jam-packed with all manner of storage boxes, books, blankets, craft supplies I never used, photo albums, etc. I reduced it all by half! I still don’t miss anything. I don’t even remember what I tossed.

Then came Move-In Day. Now there’s a story.

There are a few important facts about November 19th, 2016 in Halifax, NS that are critical to this story.

It was pouring rain, freezing cold, the Festival of Lights Parade was blocking several parts of downtown, and Joe’s cats did not like being a) in carriers or b) in a car.

Getting the cats went smoothly, they even dealt pretty well with us half-running to the car in the rain with the carriers swinging. Most of the drive downtown went fine, with just a few more sassy cat sounds than we normally heard.

But then the parade. We thought it would be over by the time we got downtown, and took our normal short-cut down Jubilee and Sackville onto Queen. Except Spring Garden was blocked at Queen Street, and we had to turn around and go all the way back to the hospital and down Robie, mixing in with parade floats at the end of their route. At this point, I suppose we had hit some sort of “had enough of this” threshold with one of the cats, and the car suddenly filled with a horrible, hot, stress-diarrhea cloud. Joe and I, stuck at a green light that was being blocked by cars and parade floats trying to negotiate with each other for the right-of-way, started gagging. We tried to roll down the windows, but the rain was too heavy. We tried to breathe through our mouths, but the cloud was so thick you could chew it. Our eyes burned, we couldn’t stop laughing and nothing was moving. It was an extremely long 10 minutes to the apartment.

Walking up the sidewalk, and then up the stairwell to my our apartment, Joe tried to gamble with me: “Whoever is carrying the shit-filled one has to clean it!”

“NO!” was all I could say, scarf over my nose, eyes watering as I hurried up the stairs.

We set down the carriers inside the door and while Joe took off his wet coat and boots, I peeked inside the carriers. In one, was Graham, huddled in a corner and PISSED. A solid little poo on the carrier floor in front of him. He looked insulted by the indignity. Before I could announce the offender, I glimpsed inside the other carrier. Harley as well, was huddled in the back corner, staring at me but also looking a little sea-sick. Then I realized the entire floor of his carrier was a darker brown than the rest of it. And wet.

Oh wait, no, nononononono.

Harley didn’t live that down for several days. We immediately took him and the carrier to the bathroom, turned on the bath and tried to clean him. All four legs protested, and in flapping madly, he managed to spray poo-water all over us, in Joe’s mouth and on the walls.

Throughout all of this, we’re laughing. Grossed out, absolutely. But laughing hysterically. At each other, at the situation, at the poo.

Once it was all said and done, we flopped on the couch and watched the boys lick themselves, and explore their new surroundings. Joe nudged me.

“Hey Gina. Remember that time we moved the boys, and they stress-pooed all over the place, and we couldn’t breathe, and there was a parade, and then it got in my mouth?”

“Yeah. Just think… it could have been such a boring story.”

***

Perhaps that was the price we paid for “living in sin” so soon. While we are saving more money and enjoying more time together as a weird little family, we will always know what it’s like to be trapped in a cat-diarrhea cloud.

Worth it. šŸ™‚

The Offender

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