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September 19, 2011

A Time to Choose: NY With My Sister Or LA With My Man

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/a_time_to_choose_ny_with_my_sister_or_la_with_my_man_20110919/

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Mr. Dreamboat asked me to move in with him Saturday.  I wish I could say this is a column about the timing of moving in with someone and if it’s necessary before marriage but I’m going to save that for later this week.  It feels dishonest of me to let you think my relationship is all fun and flowers as tempting as it is.  Apparently, even when dating Mr. Dreamboat, you will come across some hurdles.  We hit our first major one this Friday and I cried myself to sleep that night thinking my relationship was over.  It’s been a long time since I’ve cried like that because of a relationship.  I have been in relationships where it used to happen all the time – why I still believed I was in a happy relationship is beyond me.  But in general, it seemed to me a good sign that crying out of frustration or emotional pain was mostly non-existent in my current romance.

But there I was again burying my face in the pillow, crying about the prospect of breaking up, about me being so wrong about him, about me letting myself get fooled again, and wondering when you get too old for all this nonsense.

It all started because of a promise I’ve made to my sister.  At least a year ago, before I had even met Mr. Dreamboat, my sister and I talked about moving to New York together.  The plan got punted around as she was unsure about leaving Argentina but eventually we decided on January of 2012.  I told her, actually I specifically promised her that at a moment’s notice if she wanted to move to NY, I would move with her and be her roommate.  I’ve been itching to swap coasts lately and we haven’t lived together since I left for college so I was really looking forward to this.  Then I fell in love…

One year later and here I am, seven months into a relationship with a man who wants me to stay in LA and my sister has called in her chit.  Actually for about the last two months she’s been calling it in but I thought she would back out.  She hasn’t.  And I promised.

I know this situation cannot get more romantic comedy clichéd.  But in the script version of my life, me not moving to NY is the best thing for everyone – my relationship ends happily ever after and my sister gets some crazy opportunity that is contingent on her living alone and she’s better off, fade out, cue credits.  In real life, I might be putting my entire life on hold for a relationship that I have no guarantees on and I might also forever regret what I’m taking away from my sister and our relationship.

So what do I do?  Naturally, at first I make it worse.

I was scared to bring this up with Mr. Dreamboat because initially I didn’t want him to know I was thinking of staying just for us because it was so early on, I didn’t want to scare him off.  Then I didn’t want to bring it up because we seemed to be so serious, it would be out of left field to say oh yeah I forgot to tell you I’m moving across the country in a few months. So I did the absolute worst thing I could have done.

Without planning ahead of time on bringing it up, I got drunk Friday night drinking some amazing new Orin Swift wine and sort of let it slip out till I was forced to fill in some details and I’m pretty sure that it came out like me saying if we don’t get engaged in January I’m moving to New York.  He was understandably hurt and shocked and didn’t say what I wanted to hear and I demanded to go home so I could hide under my covers and cry and feel sorry for myself.  (How did I ever get a gig giving relationship advice?!)

Saturday morning, he brought me beautiful striped roses and apologized for being insensitive.  Now I felt even worse because while he wasn’t being perfect the way I wanted him to be, he was being honest and I had probably been much more insensitive to him.  And I was making a bigger deal of our differing use of semantics than was necessary and ok, I blew some things out of proportion and yes, I knew he meant things a little differently than they came out.  But here he was trying to console me.  It’s really hard not to hate yourself at moments like that.

Saturday night at dinner, I brought the topic up again, and amazingly our sober conversation didn’t make me cry.  The more we talked the more I realized a lot of what upset me lied in our communication.  For instance, I thought he said he wouldn’t get engaged until he owned a house.  This bothered me because if you know that the person in front of you is the one and everything else in life is where you want it but you don’t own a piece of property, that seemed like a stupid reason not to move forward.  Talking about it Saturday night he explained that he was talking about in his ideal world, what he had always imagined was that he would own a home first.  The night before, I had been going on and on to my roommate about how he would be asking me to put my life on hold to own real estate and why would a man need to have a deed to truly love a woman.  Why do women do this to themselves?

To top it all off, I realized that the thing I had been hoping to avoid in all of this actually happened in the worst way I feared.  Friday night I had made it seem like I was giving him this ultimatum of we get engaged in January or I’m moving to New York.  I never meant to do that.  I hate the idea of women giving men ultimatums.  It happens too much and I would find it offensive if anyone ever did it to me.  Plus I don’t think my relationship needs an ultimatum nor does Mr. Dreamboat.  I don’t want to manipulate him into doing something he doesn’t want to do on his own.  So I realized how much of his surprise the night before was a reaction to his perception of that.  If my sister had said she didn’t want to move anymore, I never would have brought it up at all and I would have just let our relationship progress at its natural clip.  But I had to bring it up because my sister has put it front and center in our own relationship and I’m being eaten alive inside by my indecision.

So the more we talked, the more things felt right again and I realized how immature I had been the night before, kicking myself for being so dramatic.  We have some things to work out still but our relationship felt strong.  Then we got to the moving in topic again.

On Friday night in the midst of our emotional discourse he said he would be ready to move in together in January.  Of course, later I had turned this into my crying over the fact that he doesn’t want to marry me but apparently I was in the midst of a compulsive need to sabotage my relationship.  Nonetheless, he brought it up again and reiterated that he wanted to move in together around the end of the year.  I said we should both think about it some more.  I didn’t want this to be a consolation prize from our argument.  He said he didn’t need to think about it more.  And so now I must choose…my sister and New York or my boyfriend and LA.

Now, the universe seems to have given me the ultimatum.  I want both.  I want to move with my sister to New York and have him move there too and after some time of living with Jenna, I’ll move in with him.  But that’s not an option.  So what do I do?  I’m scared at the prospect of ending the best relationship I’ve ever been in.  I’m scared of permanently injuring my relationship with my sister who will be the one I turn to if my relationship ends.  As my twenties draw to a close, I’m scared of not moving forward with my life.  And I’m scared of choosing wrong.  I told him, I need some time to think about it.  In the meantime, thank God for girlfriends and ice cream…


Tamara Shayne Kagel is a writer living in Santa Monica, CA. To find out more about her, visit www.tamarashaynekagel.com and follow her on twitter @tamaraskagel. © Copyright 2011.

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