“So… where are you living next year?” she asked casually from his fraternity living room couch.
He hesitated while adding some parmesan cheese to their slightly undercooked pasta. She noted the way he froze, obviously calculating what to say next. She felt a subtle sigh escape her lips while he grabbed the bowls. As he sauntered over to her, wine bottle clutched in the crook of his arm, she straightened her back, so ready for this conversation.
“I’m not too sure,” he continued, setting the dishes down on the makeshift beer pong/coffee table and plopping next to her, causing her to fall into him slightly.
“Well, are you going to live here next yet?” She probed, picking up her fork and trying to calculate how many carbs this dish had.
If she was being totally honest with herself (and wasn’t she always? I mean she was trying to live her most authentic life), she hated that he lived in the fraternity house. After dating Michael for over two years, she was itching for things to move to the next level. They met their freshman year of college, and after making out in the corner of a sticky bar, she went back to his place, even though “she never does this.” They talked on and off for a few months, but after feeling like she was stuck in the talking phase she demanded that they become official. He drunkenly said yes, she changed her Facebook status (and his, when he left his laptop open one night). She decided to say they started dating the night they met, just so she could get her one-year present a season earlier.
It wasn’t that she hated the frat. Not at all. She totally looooooved the guys, and she basically lived there. Not to mention that fact that she was a shoo-in for sweetheart next year. He’d been living in “The House” for the past year and a half, and despite the great parties, thrones of pledges willing to do whatever she wanted, and a permanent, optional seat in the main room for drinking, she was tired of this whole scene. The never-ending partying. The influx of girl after girl who hung around the house, constantly testing her patience, not to mention his ex, who never seemed to get the memo that Michael had moved on.
Yeah. She was totally over the frat-house scene. And after venting about the situation for what was going on her third month in a row, her best friend, Alex, had the best idea.
“Why don’t u guys move in together?????” Alex had texted, suggesting the solution she had been plotting in her head since the moment they became official. She had smiled down at her rose gold iPhone 6, fingers hovering over the keys in anticipation.
“Shut up. R u serious??!?! There’s nooooo way,” she answered, already pulling out her MacBook Pro to look up apartments near the cute outdoor mall a few miles away from campus.
“SRSLY!!! U & MIKE R PERFECT. FUCKING DO IT BITCHHHHH!!!!” Alex demanded, planting an impossible-to-remove seed in her best friend’s head.
After a few days of emailing various complexes, some unit tours with Alex in tow, and some negotiations on a gorg 900 square-foot one bedroom with attached sunroom/study, she felt prepared to bring it up to Michael. After shelling out her retail paycheck on a fresh blowout, mani-pedi, and massage (for the stress), she had slipped on her new, tasteful-yet-revealing LBD for a “romantic” evening of home cooked food at The House.
Michael’s face flickered in (scented) candle lighting as he battled with how to answer.
“Well, I know they want to make room for the new guys. So I was probably just going to move out after summer,” he stated, shoving a forkful of penne into his mouth and keeping his eyes on his plate.
“Want some garlic bread, babe?” he asked, waving a buttery mess in front of her face in the hopes that this conversation was over.
She waved the carbohydrates away, knowing that she needed to avoid garlic breath and bloating until she got the answer she wanted. Just as she was about to reveal a little more cleavage and make her next move, Michael’s pledge brother, Adam, slouched into the room and plopped next to her on the couch.
“What’s up, bitchessss?” he slurred, snatching the garlic bread she had turned down off of the paper plate and putting his boat-shoe clad feet on the table.
She shot a panicked look at Michael, trying to convey how rude this was. It was their romantic date, celebrating their monthiversary, after all.
“Just hanging,” Michael said back, torn between pleasing his friend and his girlfriend. He could feel her temper rising as Adam reached across her to grab her boyfriend’s bowl of sub-par pasta.
“What should we watch?” Adam continued, oblivious to the war he was starting.
“Actually man, we’re sort of doing a dinner thing,” Michael mumbled, avoiding his friend’s gaze and accepting the fact that he’ll be called a pussy-whipped bitch in his group text for the next six months.
“Ohhhhh,” Adam said, a smirk falling across his face. He took in Michael’s light blue button down and her revealing black cocktail dress and heels, and promptly stood up. “Sorry guys, my bad,” he finished, leaning down to take one more piece of bread (there were now only two left, she counted, as her stomach growled silently) before heading out of the room.
“Sorry baby –” Michael started before she cut him off, tears threatening to fall from her eyes.
“I just can’t take it anymore,” she snapped, brushing her eyes with a delicate finger, praying that this tactic would work.
“Take what anymore?” Michael asked, reaching for her hand and feeling a dull panic set over him. He couldn’t think of anything he had done particularly wrong, but he had a feeling where this conversation was going, and he wasn’t sure how, exactly, to handle it.
“THIS! US!” She blurted, choosing to say something shocking to get his attention. “I just…I can’t keep competing for attention here. It’s constantly guys wanting to drink or guys barging in on us. We can’t even have a nice dinner without someone tagging along,” she pouted, hoping he would take the bait.
“I know baby,” he consoled, trying to keep his voice steady. He loved living in The House, and if there wasn’t a time limit on how long brothers could stay, he would keep his upstairs room until he graduated. But since he found out that he had to move out, he had been thinking about renting a house with a few older brothers. Now, as he looked at his tearstained girlfriend, he realized that might not be what was in the cards for him.
“In a few months I’ll be out and things will be less hectic,” he finished, as he reached for the $15 pinot he had splurged on earlier in the day and filled her glass up to the top.
“How? How is it going to be less hectic,” she pressed, waiting for him to fall into her plan.
“Uhhh,” he started, trying to think of a move that wouldn’t check-mate him. “I’ll probably try to live with some of the guys in my pledge class. You know. Like, Ben. Mark…Adam?” He ticked them off, feeling less sure with each name.
“So basically like living in The House again,” she fired back, ready to lay it all out on the table.
“Well, no. It would be different,” he stuttered, feeling the almost-defeat settle over him. “I don’t know. It was just an idea,” he finished lamely.
She put down her glass of white and turned towards him, heart hammering in her chest. She knew they were ready to take this step. After all, she took a quiz online and it totally said that they were ready. With visions of trips to Ikea and always knowing where he was danced in her head, she took a deep breath and grabbed his hand. He glanced up at her with a look of fear tinged with dejected acceptance.
“I have the perfect solution,” she said, with an air of finality. “I think we should live together.”.
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