“You’re stuck with me, I hope you know this,” Kevin said to me one night during our vacation. “There’s only going to be one heartbreaker in this relationship.”
“Our studio apartment?” I asked.
Kevin started laughing, then he hugged me and kissed my forehead. It was funny to both of us because for a week we were able to get away from our tiny home, and because though cohabitation is a hard adjustment for everyone, it’s far more difficult when you’re forced to share one room.
There are lovely parts to living together, like sharing dinner with someone and having someone waiting with a hug and an open ear every day after work. But then there are the small habits that each person has that can drive the other one crazy.
“Why do you leave the bathroom cabinet open,” Kevin will say to me regularly. “I hit my head on it every time I go pee. Can’t you just close it?”
“Put the toilet seat down more often and maybe I’ll try,” I’ll reply. “Did you finish the dishes yet, by the way?”
Our bathroom is a constant area of conflict. There is no separate shower area in the bathroom. The shower head is connected to the faucet and when it’s time to wash, you must turn a knob to make the water flow out of the shower part instead. The entire bathroom floor is soaked after every single shower. We have a squeegee that we use to leave the floor in streaky wetness rather than in puddles after showering.
“Scrape the floor,” Kevin and I tell each other.
Though Kevin has lived with me in this tiny Korean apartment for a few months, and he has had countless showers in that time, he still forgets to turn the sink knob from the shower setting back to faucet. This has never backfired on him, but it has left me doused repeatedly.
Seriously? I email him. Again with the fucking shower? Now as I leave for work, the entire right side of my body is wet. Change.your.habits.
Love you! He writes back.
When he is at home to witness what it looks like, it’s even worse. He sits at his computer, I attempt to wash my hands and have water pour onto my head and down my shoulders while my hands stay dry. I let out a caw-sounding shriek of surprise. Kevin turns instantly, at first alarmed at the sound, and then, as he realizes what happened, he erupts into laughter. Silent, body-shaking laughter.
“You dick!” I throw the soap at him and miss, but his eyes are closed and tears are starting to form at the corners of his eyes so he doesn’t notice the missile that flew past his head.
“It’s so much funnier in person,” he says.
I hate him at this moment. If I were a bystander, I’m sure I’d find this to be a hilarious sight. And I am smiling a little, but it’s a smile I hate showing, and I’m glad his eyes are too teary for him to see me.
The ultimate result of his forgetfulness is my constant paranoia. Every time I go to brush my teeth or wash my hands, I flinch a little and look up at the showerhead with total distrust.
Another downfall about living in a studio apartment with your significant other is that there is nowhere to go to get away from one another.
Kevin moved to Korea in the summer, so he never minded when I kicked him out of the house in the mornings. He would sit outside reading while I worked out inside the apartment, jiggling alone in front of my computer with a fan blasting on me. When it started getting colder, he began to object. “I’m not gonna look at you,” he’d say. And he’d face a different direction while I panted and sweated behind his back.
The apartment also felt even smaller than usual during fights. Whenever a slightly angry discussion began to accelerate, Kevin would grab his coat and cigarettes and storm outside. Later on he’d come back in and say, “I love you. You drive me crazy.” And our fight would be over.
I always hated when he walked out. I’d rather hash it out and get it over with, and though I was used to his way of dealing with things, I still disliked it.
Fall was just around the corner when we had one of these fights. He left, saying “I’m going for some coffee,” and grabbing his book before slamming the door.
It was past midnight and the coffee shops were closed. We also didn’t live by any bars. I decided I didn’t care where he was and thought about locking the door behind him. That would teach him to walk out on a fight, I thought. But instead I picked up a book and tried to refocus my mind on something more pleasant.
Eventually I fell asleep.
I woke up to the sound of rain, but it was too close to the bed. It was a shower. Kevin was showering in the middle of the night. How uncharacteristic of him, I thought before drifting back to sleep.
The next morning I wanted to talk over the end of our fight. I waited until he’d had his first cup of coffee, and then I spoke.
“Are you awake enough for me to talk to you now?”
“Good. You don’t always need to resort to leaving, you know? I’d already said what I had to say last night, as far as I could see everything was over, but when you walk out I get mad all over again. I had no idea where you were even going-”
“I told you I was going for coffee.”
“Yeah, but it was like, past 1 a.m.!”
“I went to the corner store and sat outside reading and getting eating alive by mosquitoes.”
“You could have just stayed here.”
“Well I had to cool down. So I stayed there until I sharted, and then I came home.”
My mouth was open to speak, but nothing came out. And then I smiled. “Wait, you what?”
“I sharted in my shorts. My white shorts, actually. And then I had to walk all the way back here.”
I started laughing, anger forgotten. “Is that why you showered?”
“Oh yeah. At that point, it’s all you can do. Really, I was sitting there, middle of the night, middle of a fight, with mosquitoes all over me, and I thought I had to fart. And then when I did, I realized it had the consistency of toothpaste. I was like, ‘Son of a bitch. Really? Right now?’”
I kept laughing, and he started smiling too. “Oh gross, Kevin. What did you do with the shorts?”
“They’re in the wash.”
So he washed his shit-filled shorts, and then he never wore them again. I couldn’t look at them the same anymore, and I guess neither could he. They were shart shorts from that day forth.
I asked Kevin’s permission before telling this story to a friend. And then I asked again to tell a few more people, and he said yes. A few weeks later, I asked him if I could blog about it, and he said “I don’t give a shit,” which I thought was a funny choice of words.