Starting Over, Vacuum Not Included

Among my worries around moving in with my boyfriend (money, cleanliness, poop), the actual STUFF — at least the smaller stuff — had fallen to the bottom of the list.

That is, until I had this text conversation yesterday with a friend, also on the verge of cohabitation:

Friend: I want some details about your move in. Like, are you getting rid of your duplicate stuff? I’m moving next week.

Me: Yes, we are going to get rid of some stuff. Probably some dishes and cutlery? Idk about furniture, we’ll probably sell some stuff?

Friend: Are you keeping things? Like do I get rid of my (shitty) vacuum and iron?

Me: Yes, if his are nicer.

Friend: What if I’m single again?

Me: Then you’ll buy another shitty one.

Friend: I don’t want to be single AND have to start over with appliances.

CUE PANIC SPIRAL. The stuff-ness of single adulthood — i.e. when you’re living alone (not with parents or roommates), care to some degree about your cleanliness and the state of your surroundings, and have at some point made the decision to invest in a few key appliances (my power drill! my KitchenAid!) — is generally so nauseatingly utilitarian that we most likely forget it exists, even when hauling it from apartment to apartment. Yet my friend is right — starting over again sounds depressing enough, let alone starting over without a vacuum.

Are we being too pessimistic? Not according to a 2014 study reported on by New York Magazine, which happily announces that “within a year of moving in together, about 14 percent of couples break up. By the three-year mark, nearly a third have broken up.”

That’s 33.3 humans walking around without their steam irons, their hairdryers, their shower caddies.

Sure, we don’t need two vacuums. But could that vacuum in the back of the closet be some sort of relationship talisman, a way to remind yourself that you are capable of being an independent person, living alone, drilling holes in the wall willy-nilly? Do we need the box under the bed filled with dusty appliances to remind us we can always leave, and with a perfectly pressed shirt?