My boyfriend has moved in. Properly. As in I've had to email the council and declare that I no longer qualify for "A Single Person's Discount".
We've kind of lived together before, a bit. But it's only really been in chunks of days. Whereas this is like prison. Prison with cardigans.
My boyfriend has a lot of cardigans. And boots. And scarves. In fact, there's a lot of my boyfriend. Everywhere. I'm having to mentally adjust. Previously, granting him a cupboard, the odd drawer or shelf has been an act of largesse, proving my generosity as a boyfriend. Now, anything less than half looks meagre. I've done my best, and thrown a lot of stuff away - but not enough. He's still confronted by crates of things which I've halfway done. And really will, honestly, get around to. One day.
That's another problem. Perception. If I leave a small pile of paper, string and USB-sticks on the floor, then it is clearly The Best Way Of Filing Important Work. If he leaves a pile on the floor it is obviously proof that he is The Untidiest Man Alive And Should Burn.
Years ago, I read a review of minimalist hotel The Hempel, where the writer had tested out the hotel's zen credentials. He'd emptied his bag onto the bed and gone out. When he returned, the contents of his bag had been arranged on the bed in a tasteful, colour-graded ziggurat. Frankly, we're currently lacking that kind of order. It's reached the point where I'm trying to work out if I should invest in a storage unit. As a temporary measure. For a few years. Ten at the most.
The sadness of stuff is realising how many things you have that you haven't looked at for a while. I have crates of my university course work and old student newspapers. Clearly, I've not looked at them for the five years since I was at uni. Which is okay. Only I left university nearly 20 years ago. The next time I glance at my old copies of Isis Magazine (edited with Ben Goldacre, fact fans) it will be 40 years. The time after that, it will be seen by whoever is doing the house clearance.
It's making me question my routine. For instance my approach to cleaning is to sneak up on it, pouncing on it on a Saturday afternoon during a decent Any Questions. I failed to explain this to my boyfriend, who looked up, bemused to wonder why I was stood in the kitchen holding a carpet, a mop and some paperclips. "Don't you think," he asked patiently, "You'd be better off tackling one room at a time?" I stared at him. He was proposing Change.
Now he has a proper job, he's also done away with my makeshift freelance lifestyle. Out has gone "Book til whenever o'clock and breakfast of yoghurt and crisps at some convenient point." Now the alarm goes off at 7. There's porridge.
It is regimented. It is neat. It is like prison. With cardigans.