For a long time I was living a lonely Eskimo life in a tiny studio apartment, pounding my keyboard like the gavel of a tribunal on life itself. Solitude suited me well. I didn't need much space. I never ate at home. I made coffee, had my records, and made love to my Netflix wife every night. And in many ways it suited me. Most ways.
I liked never coming home or having to call, staying up to 3AM drinking milkshakes and playing Halo at my buddy's house. But it wasn't just my rogue cowboy lifestyle, I loved little things like the austerity of my keychain: bike, car, home. That's it.
My life was simple. Routine. If you asked what I was doing you got one of the following texts: coffee, gym, reading, writing, or masturbating. Different orders depending on the day.
Then I went and met a girl. Less Netflix. Less writing. Less reading. Less gym. Less masturbation. More or less same coffee. Suddenly my tiny fortress of solitude had company. Someone looked for place to put their dinner, overlooking the obvious queen bed/table. Sometimes she'd stay over. Sometimes I'd stay over. Suddenly my Chrome bag became an overnight bag. Clean underwear took the place of The Iliad.
Eventually, we did the key thing. She gave me hers well before I gave her mine, which I'm sure says something negative about me. And all of the sudden my carefully crafted ecosystem was thrown into chaos. Her key looked like mine; mine looked like hers. My carabiner really wasn't set up to accommodate other keys. I could feel the bulk accruing in my back pocket. It threw off my post-midnight key maneuvers causing me to resemble a common drunkard. It slightly altered how I sat and jangled annoyingly.
Suddenly I hated my keys, a distain I was altogether unprepared for. They had an unbecoming girth. They hung ugly. Heavy. Inelegant. What's next? A goddamn grocery club card? A spectre loomed. It portended the end of Spartan simplicity. The dawn of not simply choosing, but of owning curtains on the horizon. I became restless, like a dog realizing the car ride wasn't to the park.
But that's how it went for a while. I'd stay at her house; she'd stay at mine. Slowly the ratio tipped more and more to her house. What woman wouldn't want to stay in an apartment with three coffee makers and only two spices: pepper and cayenne pepper (in case you were curious)? After a while I began to think of my apartment as an exorbitantly priced, air-conditioned storage unit. I visited to pick up clothes and to seek refuge during fights. That was about it.
It is at this point, many months later, I did something rather out of character: I moved in with her. Let my lease lapse and moved in. I gave away most of what wasn't already at her house and waved goodbye to my two-spice life. And I was goddamn apprehensive. For most of my life, I have spewed the mantra, "If I break up with my girlfriend, I don't want to move." And seventeen year old me wasn't wrong. But he wasn't happy either.
Then it happened. Walking out of my overpriced storage shed, I left my key on the kitchen counter leaving behind my glorified hotel room. As I hooked my keys to my jeans for the first time as a domestic partner. A familiar feeling graced my Levi's: bike, car, home. Closing the door behind me for the last time, a smile crept across my face.
An elegant and fulfilling life takes many forms, but never without commitment. Making choices is more important than their outcome. The point is to choose, to chase a life. With one foot out the door, we dog paddle in the middle of an ocean. It occupies our time and little else. Satisfaction is found at the poles: alone or partnered. Yes or no. Despair and cumbersome keys lie in between.