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First Thoughts on Moving In (Or, How My Internet Shrunk)

He’s finally here.

This past week, I’ve been adjusting to having a new “roommate,” sharing my space, and getting used to the idea of fusing two lives and trajectories. I’ve never lived with a boyfriend, so this is new territory: exciting mixed with surreal. My many visions of playing house as I’ve grown up have been nothing like this current and very real thing.

heart of san francisco

The sensations and joys and anxieties that come with cohabitation are creeping up on me. But in these first days, I’ve noticed the little things: the way the striped towel on the rack in the kitchen is folded and placed horizontally (by him) rather than vertically (by me); the foreign presence of lemongrass and coriander in my fridge; or the fact that I will now call coriander “coriander” instead of “cilantro.”

These mundane yet telling details: The extra toothbrush on my bathroom counter. The Euro-to-US voltage converters plugged into once-unused outlets around my loft. And the pillows on my sofas: no longer placed just so, for decoration—more like tossed there, crinkled, used.

A few months ago, in my lapse of waiting and musing on “home” and love, I said that something was missing, and even with my new home, all my pretty things, and me—living and breathing inside it—the air was stagnant.

Now, there’s movement and change in between these walls, and a shared path originating here and headed somewhere we don’t know. It’s wonderful to feel all of this in a physical space that has evolved from the day I moved in last May: first, a blank canvas, and then empty rooms with a life fragmented into boxes and big blue IKEA bags, and now lived-in rooms where we cook and eat, and lounge and read, and catch up on Mad Men and Game of Thrones, and talk about what may come next.

In this tangible here, life is brewing.

But what I noticed immediately, in the 24 hours he arrived at the airport in San Francisco, was how my online activities had suddenly changed.

But now that I think about it, “online world” wasn’t quite what I meant. My Internet has changed now that the main person I interacted and kept in touch with through email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp is physically in the same room as me, sitting at my dining table.

The longing I felt as I faced my computer has disappeared, and so has a dimension of my Internet. The worlds and levels within my Internet are still there, but the universe itself has shrunk, and has suddenly become more functional: a place I’ll go primarily for my news and for the network I’ve built based on ideas.

balloons at stafford lake

But I no longer have to rely on looking outward, into a sea of pixels, to sustain this particular relationship in my life. It’s interesting to feel this layer of my Internet now inside my home, absorbing into me, into him, into us. Two planes initially distinct, merging over the course of a year-and-a-half, now intertwining.

I can’t quite explain it, but it’s a strange but sweet sensation.

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Categories: Life love relationships the internet

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Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Writer at Writing Through the Fog. Editor at Automattic.

24 replies

  1. This was beautifully written. I can totally identify having maintained a coast-to-coast relationship for many years which finally ended (happily) with one of us moving where the other lives. I guess for a while it will be like as you describe. Then, the presence of you both on the internet and your relationship to the web might take a different turn. You will reach a comfortable place, one where you share readings not by forwarding links but by having the immediacy of being able to share the reading experiece in flesh and blood, side by side. Or maybe you both will laugh at a funny picture online together and not on Skype. And then you will slowly return to the ‘net for friendships again once you have adjusted to the new presence in your space not just for ideas but for those emotional things that friendships bring.

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    1. You will reach a comfortable place, one where you share readings not by forwarding links but by having the immediacy of being able to share the reading experiece in flesh and blood, side by side. Yes. Exactly!

      Thanks for the comment. I’m very careful about writing about this part of my life — it certainly drives much of the writing I’ve posted here in the past two years (when I first met this person). So, I’m glad you identified with it. The post that I’m most attached to, however, is this one — my first real attempt to make sense of this long-distance, augmented relationship.

      Now that we’re living together and married, I’ve found it difficult to write about this journey — and how things have changed so much! I’d really like to, but I think everything is still so new. I’ll let it simmer a bit more :)

      Thanks for your comment.

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  2. such an exciting development told in a quiet, poetic way. i sit here in appreciation of your situation, hoping that i will be able to adapt when the time comes for the next step. good luck with your exploration, i look forward to following.

    MissFeebs

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  3. Nothing much to explore on my blog…. it’ll be back sooner or later but for now I think I’ve reached a bit of a dead end. Need some freshness. Congrats on getting freshly pressed again…

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  4. Starting to catch up on all your postings of the last six months or so. Love this piece, the way you fold musings on long-distancing into musings on moving-in. Also very glad you’ve found someone for whom coriander is coriander, and not cilarrntro.

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    1. Thanks, Phil. Weaving thoughts on moving in with long-distance love and the “shrinking” of my Internet felt natural to write, and as the weeks pass I’ve more to say on it… Glad you enjoyed it (and glad to see you here again — must visit your blog to see what’s up with you!).

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  5. I have felt and lived this and known it to be true, and I could never put it as beautifully as you have. That shrinking of the worlds, the condensing of the universe into one apartment or one fridge, is one of my very favorite feelings. I have just returned from a trip with my love, away from the internet and my digital world, and I found I was missing little. When we are apart from one another, however, I feel like being away from the internet is depriving me of a form of life itself. Thank you for pointing out how all of that can be true and co-exist… and melt away the second the world shrinks.

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    1. Roxanne, I’m glad to follow your blog and your story, too — your tales are inspiring and familiar, but also different, and I like reading about your experiences and how you view, deal with, and feel your way through this world — and the love and connections within it.

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  6. After reading your post about Home I had a feeling of uncertainty. I don’t quite know how to explain it. But after reading this one there was only one feeling that crept up- one of happiness! And as people have pointed out before, it was a pleasure reading the post. Such an important happening described so beautifully and maturely. It was almost stoic but that very quality rendered all the beauty.

    I wish you all happiness!

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    1. Aw, you’re so sweet, and I also appreciate your honest comment about feeling uncertain after reading the earlier piece. More to come on this, I’m sure. Thank you for reading and leaving your thoughts, as usual.

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  7. I think you’re seeing the evolution of communication technologies paralleling the evolution of the relationship. I noticed the same thing. My wife and I met at work, so the IM communiques were prolific and lengthy (and top secret) the first three months of our relationship. She got another job and they were replaced with text messages and emails. When we moved in together, they changed to Glympses, and then on to photo texts when the baby came. Oh, and pithy in-game comments with the very relationship-friendly Words With Friends. Interesting how pervasive technology is in our life that we can record the shifts as our life events change. I like how you tap into that here.

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    1. Nico, your story is also interesting — thanks for sharing it. I’m fascinated by how people, especially couples, adjust their uses of technology to fit the evolving space of the relationship.

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  8. A neat story, and beautifully expressed, Cheri. The tone so quiet and sure as befits an epic event. You might think about submitting this to the New York Times as a Modern Love feature—check their word count as they might like the essays a little longer, but this is a gem you could build on, if so.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Richard. Modern Love submissions should be 1500-1700 words. I’m quite attached to the post that came before this one (Notes of Home, Life, and Love), but it was unfinished. But I think now, with these thoughts, I can write the more complete piece I’ve wanted to. I will plan to submit something along these lines — thanks for planting the seed :)

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