licking cow udders for free

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You might do it to save money.  Or to claim, "it just makes more sense" because you sleep together every night anyway.  Well, nearly.  The nights you’re apart happen because you’re both lazy, and no one wants to make the trip to the others bed.  At the beginning of things, though, this doesn’t happen.  At the beginning, no one is lazy or speaks of taking things for granted.  You co-habitate for a while, usually more at one place than the other because of a pet, its proximity to work, or a better television.  And if it’s your place, when he leaves, because he can leave and find solace at his own place, you feel a bit abandoned.  You can’t escape him in your cohabited space.  Everything is "ours" now, even what’s "yours."  It’s worse when you move in together. 

I slept together every night with my first college boyfriend.  Mostly at his apartment off campus.  We made it a home; I had my own closet.  We slept on a real bed, not a futon.  We took turns cooking and watched Emeril before people were watching Emeril.  When we fought, I could duck out into my own life again, back to campus, in a dorm with a desk and bedding from home.  The collage of photos proving I had friends.  Camp friends, boyfriends, pretty friends I thought made me look as if I were popular back home.  I wasn’t.  The space was still mine; I had somewhere to go.

The next serious relationship took place at my place every night, when I moved off campus.  He’d take the subway down each night to sleep with me, then up early to catch the bus across town to personal train Debbie Gibson or the editor of the now defunct Gourmet.  When we ourselves became defunct, he ended things while he was standing in my apartment, his clothing still mingled with mine, folded on my shelves, hanging and clinging to mine on hangers. 

I needed to get out of there.  I phoned my mother, crying into the phone.  "I’ll be there in forty minutes," she said.  She was there in a half hour.  I’d packed a bag; it was a long weekend.  She took me to some Mexican restaurant because she was starving, because "you have to eat something, Stephanie."  I insisted we eat at the bar; a table seemed like too much of a commitment.  I recounted the details of the breakup to my mother over a basket of corn chips.  "He said he just doesn’t love me anymore."  Then I began to sob.  The bartender passed me napkins.  "You’re making me so depressed," my mother said with disgust, "that I just ate that entire basket!"  She would have eaten all those chips anyway.  My mother eats like a truck driver.

That night, I crawled into bed beside her.  "What’s wrong?" she whispered in a half-sleep. 
"I just don’t know how to get through this."  I’d just thrown up. 
"I know," she said as she pulled her hand along my arm, rubbing it.  "I know, but you will.  It will get easier with time."  And space, she should have added.  Space, my own–not the mine I gave and shared with him. 

The next day, I phoned my roommate Smelly and asked her to pack up his shit for me.  "I can’t look at it or I’ll just cry."  I said it as if crying were the worst thing in the world.  And Smelly did as she was told.  "In a garbage bag," I said.  "It’s the only thing big enough."  She didn’t know, in the packing, if she should fold his things or just toss them in there with anger.  Smelly doesn’t know how to do impolite. 

I lost eleven pounds from it all.  Break-ups get you thin, but you’re too miserable to enjoy or appreciate it.  It’s just one less thing to feel sad about.  "At least I’m not as fat anymore."  I think it’s my body’s way of giving me at least something about which to be positive.  Then I rearranged the furniture in my bedroom.  I needed to do something to forget he’d ever been there.  The wall behind my bed (sorry this is gross) was splattered with his dried come.  I tried wiping it all off, but the white walls were stained with it.  You couldn’t see it unless the light hit it a certain way, and then, then you couldn’t miss our wall of bliss.  I covered it with a drawing I made in high-school.  An abstract, with bright colors, of a boy in fetal position.  It was only depressing once you realized what it was.  It was all I had.  The boyfriend came back days later, begging.  He’d made a mistake, he said.  "I didn’t mean it," he promised.  But it was too late.  I’d already redecorated, and my heart couldn’t take believing him again.  He left with his garbage bags.  I imagined him riding the subway with them, then walking back into his fraternity house with them.  It didn’t make me happy.  I could finally eat again, though.  Only because he came back and withdrew all the sting and rejection by begging to have me back.  The space became mine again.

I swore after that not to move in with anyone until I was engaged.  Not to co-habitate at my place.  I kept that promise, sort of.  The next relationship, the next really big relationship, began with co-habitation at my place because his was too small.  He only had a twin-sized bed in dormitory housing.  So we slept each night together in my full-sized bed across town.  When my lease was up, he asked me to marry him.  I was ready to renew and keep the roommate I had.  "I’m an old-fashioned girl," I said, "and I don’t believe in living together before getting married."  And in a way, I still don’t.  I think you know enough these days while co-habitating.  Then we lived together, engaged, for over two years before getting married.  I know people who do it for a lot longer than that.  I don’t think I knew more about him because we lived together first.  I swore, after all of that, never to live with anyone again until I was married, not engaged.  Married. 

Now, I’m engaged and living with him.  I moved in with him because I was pregnant, because I knew we were locked into each other forever.  That the engagement wouldn’t be called off.  I wouldn’t have moved in if I weren’t pregnant, trying to save us money.  I would have waited until we were married, so our marriage would feel more official.  New bedding.  A married "ours." 

See, when you have your own place, it’s easier to run.  When we fought, I could pout there.  "Nah, I think I’m going to stay at my place tonight."  It was passive aggressive apartment war.  Having my own apartment gave me one foot out.  It afforded me–not the ability to cheat (it wasn’t about that)–the ability to change my mind.  It was easier to un-do all that had been promised.  A break up is easier without a moving truck and real-estate brokers.  It’s easier without having to pay a broker fee or scour craigslist.  When I am miserable, my instinct is to flee.  I want to evacuate and start over with someone else, even if that someone is me for a while.  It’s not about relationship-hopping as much as it is having the ability to leave something that doesn’t feel right.  And sometimes I don’t know if things really shouldn’t be the way they are, or if it would be this hard with anyone.  I don’t think it’s a function of fighting because I’ve had several exes with whom I didn’t really fight, and we still weren’t right together.  So I don’t see fighting as an indication of "wrong,"  as long as I’m happy more than I’m unhappy.  Which I definitely am.  Definitely.  Though you’d never know it from reading my blog, because mostly, I only write about something when it’s bothering me.  When things are wonderful, I work on a book, writing my memories of camp.  I do not blog, not really.  I know people wish I did.  Too bad.

My happy moments are spent in book stores with burnt coffee, at wine tastings with friends, beside him on the sofa listening to him play his guitar.  They’re quieter, my happiest times.  And they usually involve snowfall and a bar.  Something warm with Scrabble.  Or a drive outside the city looking for a cider mill, holding hands.  They involve pasta.  They don’t involve watching television.  When I lived alone, I never really watched TV, and I miss that.  Now that I live with someone who enjoys it, I feel like my life is lazier.  I miss being to busy to ever have time for TV.  I miss drawing in quiet, not being alone, but being out.  Dinners out.  I miss how when you’re single, you’re rarely home.  You meet this one for coffee, that one for a glass of wine.  Except now I want that one to be him.  He’d rather watch King Of Queens in his boxers.  I miss having a busy life, beyond all the work I have to do.  When you settle in with someone, I think they call it settling down because people literally sit more.  In front of a television or rental movie.  There’s more down time.  I miss being out and about every night.  I don’t want to always do it with friends or by myself.  Sometimes I like to "run."  Even if it means a night at Borders reading magazines with a cup of tea, together.  I miss being out.

When you’re living together, you no longer have the ability to run.  I don’t mean out; I mean "away" when it gets hard.  It becomes a three-legged man race, where your shoes are tied together.  You feel tangled and unsure of your footing, but really, getting out of the commitment only takes a simple slip of string… around some cardboard.  It takes a van.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s harder when it’s divorce, when papers need to be filed, when things need to be divided, when you get smacked with another stigma.  "Divorced, again." 

What I have realized, though, is as bad as an argument gets, he’s still coming home at the end of the day.  And without words, once the fight has been tabled for a while, we tangle in a hug with exhales.  Our bodies forgive for us; and, our minds and mouths follow suit.  I know everything will be okay.  Living together has made me grow up.  I might try to plan my great escape, but I never get beyond the front door, because really it’s not about pina coladas and making love at midnight by the dunes on the cape.  Beach sex is good on a very big blanket, but out in the open, not by the dunes, and certainly not at midnight.  How cliche.   



  1. I miss being out, too. Just like you, my other half enjoys his time at home. "Feel free to go out if you want to," he says. "You don't have to stay home with me." But I'd rather be with him than anyone else. I just wish he'd want to do "out" with me. Going out alone loses some of its appeal if you're coupled. I want to share all my time with him, and if I have to stay home to do it, I will. It's not about an unhealthy attachment to him, just a desire to spend my excess time on him. But I miss never being home, too. I just thought I was the only one who thought that way. Once again, somehow, you can articulate exactly what I'm thinking better than I can.

  2. I liked this post very much. I have been living with my partner for 4 months and have just become engaged. Living together is hard, and the fights more frequent simply because of the amount of time spent with each other…. But I would not change it for the world. I love this blog. I have been reading for a year, and it is lovely to hear how happy you are, and how much you seem to have grown.

  3. Very eloquent post and so true, too. I kept my place to run, while staying over at his house most of the time. And when single we would hit Sixth St. or Huts Hamburgers or Threadgills in a big gang, just having fun, listening to music. (Some of my best memories are in Austin. LOL) We will hit the big 20 in May, and while it's different, it's still great. So here's to you and Phil, and many great years together.

  4. I advocate that you pick a room in your new home if/when you move just for you. Hey, the Victorian ladies with boudoirs had something there. As wonderful as it is sharing a space with someone, you must always have a space to yourself to feel healthy.

    What do I fear the most about living with a man one day? Sharing a bathroom! ARGH! I will spend my savings on building one just for myself if I have to! :)

  5. It's funny that you say that you blog when something is bothering you. I feel quite the same way and have had people ask me if I am depressed or am I "okay". I really liked how you backed this up, though, by saying that when you are happy you would rather be doing book stores and wine tastings..etc.. I really relate to this and I am glad that you expained it. This was a great "relationship" post but I think it was a great "why I write" post as well. Cheers.

  6. Moving in with my SO was a very difficult transition. The first time I wanted to flee to my space and realized, "crap … this IS my space now …" was suffocating.

    We've been living together for 5 years now, though, and it definitely gets easier. Hang in there!

  7. In all honesty, I usually skim long posts-hell, I even only skim my own long posts-but this one had me all the way through. Because it's so true. In every relationship-boyfriend/girlfriend, fiances, friends-there always needs to be a place to escape to and it's perfectly natural to crave it.
    You're also right about the blogging, only when something is bothering you thing-again, completely normal. At least in my book.

  8. wow. i myself am nearing an impending 'move-in with the boyfriend' date. We have been together for about 3 years. I agree with that part about what matters is being happier more often than not. I'm 26, he's 27, we're planning on getting engaged. It feels right. But that doesn't mean that I'm not nervous at the same time! Thanks for writing this…I feel like printing it off and showing it to him, and saying something like, here, here is how I feel. ha!

  9. so interesting. i think about this often. i can't imagine sitting down to watch the king of queens.

  10. co-habitation is hard even when it's exactly what you want. i think i ask my boyfriend every day: "you're still going to marry me even though i'm giving you all the goods now, right?" he just chuckles and answers, "yes, honey," but sometimes i can't help but ask, just to be sure.

  11. when you write, you become incredibly personal and vulnerable and i appreciate it. i don't have that ability. when i read your blog, i really feel as though i connect with you. your writing has an incredibly personal quality and you really connect with your readers.
    thank you.

  12. Wow. I've probably read a couple of 100 of your posts, and I think this was easily, easily, the best of them. It was long, but never dragged. It revealed more of you than any of the other posts, since some (as you pointed out) only reflected the negative side of you and of your relationship with the suitor. And, imvho, it was a nice analysis of the psychology of personal space. Very nicely done.

  13. Emeril. Not Emrill.

    It's just slightly distracting, and it takes away a small bit of credibility when namedrops are misspelled. Also, the magazine is generally just called Gourmet. Not Gourmet Magazine.

    It's a very well-written piece, but the rub of that is that these minor errors show up more.

  14. it isn't about making love at midnight by the dunes on the cape. but it is about escape.

    it's great that you rarely get past the front door, but in my experience, getting past the front door has been good. whether you walk around the block, or get in the car and drive around the neighborhood.

    by the time you walk back in the door, you've been gone just long enough to realize one or both of you are being ridiculous. and that you want to walk back through the door to say so, to go back to the full-body hugs and the i love yous.

  15. A few things.

    1) 'Sallie' spellcheck needs to get laid. Really. The effort to correct someones spelling just illuminates how hollow your life is. Ole!

    2) From what I can ascertain about your personality, the woman who chases down good photos of passing parades on vacation mid meal, dating a guy who watches King of Queens made me laugh. It was a funny contradiction.

    Finally, what I appreciate most here is that you have taken a chance with revealing yourself and as a result you see many people relate to much of what was said. You write for yourself, but isn't it nice to know that your insights here are dead on? I agree with what someone said previously here- get the room, one room for yourself. How about a darkroom, or room for all those craft things you have in storage:) My dad has his 'den', a timeless little 'portal' with wood, wrought iron, stained glass windows- doesn't match the rest of the house, but reflects his taste. His place to write, think, retreat. No one was allowed in it growing up unless say, the house was on fire. The challenge when you are sharing space is creating your own santuary where you can.

  16. I'm enjoying how you're sprinkling huge, personal news throughout (somewhat) mundane entries. It's interesting and has a big impact.

  17. My life is fine, but thank you for your concern.

    When something is shoddily written, spelling hardly matters. When something is damn well written, errors in pop culture, which is often almost a character itself on this blog, stand out. That was my point.

    Those offended can take their own advice and simply not comment. Or comment. I won't mind either way.

    But my comment wasn't a slam on Stephanie or her writing, so perhaps those needing… realease are those who tense up so automatically. It's actually borderline weird.

  18. I dated my ex for 10 years – and the breakup was heartwrenching. Horrific. Painful. I don't think i could have gotten through it had we lived together – separating CDs – emptying drawers and medicine cabinets – sleeping in that bed. I liked having my own place – and while we essentially did live together in the sense that he was always here – his place was his and mine was mine. He had a toothbrush here – and some boxers – maybe a sweatshirt. There was no giving it back when he cheated – it was all thrown out.

    I look forward to when my now boyfriend/future husband and i make it official – so even when we fight – and it's rare – i know he'll always come home. And so will i.

    Great post stephanie :)

  19. Loved the post- I have been living with my boyfriend for a little under a year now. We were both moving to NYC, we had been dating all through college… it seemed to make sense, both financially and otherwise. About a week before we moved in together, we almost broke up over a couch. I kid you not. The couch got put in the U-Haul, and we did too, and now we live in an one room apartment. ONE ROOM. Whenever I need alone time, I have to go to the bathroom, or the gym, but it's totally worth it. I am having the best time. We actually fight less now (amazing).

  20. Excellent. Brilliant. Exactly where I am and what I am feeling. Thank you! I couldn't get out of bed today with my heavy depression, I am glad I did.

  21. I totally get this post. I live with my boyfriend just after 4 months of dating. He moved cross country and then we back cross country again. I love him to pieces and hopefully we will get married. shit can go wrong.

    My bf totally likes to stay home and watch movies. He likes subway for dinner during the week, I like home cooked meals. We get along well, bicker fights then cuddling. We have a rule that you can't leave if you are mad. It must be resolved. I think it's my rule and I just scream it at him when he "threatens."

    BTW, my dad looks like Emeril. I watch him every night so I can be close to my pops. My pops cooks as well but doesn't say BAM.

  22. Kinda scarey, this coming from a woman who might up and leave her southern home to move to California to be with her b/f!! YOUZA! It will be different, but I am 27 years old, I am pretty sure I am ready for it. I have the same prob though, I pout, can't help it, would he rather I yell and scream, that can be done as well!
    I am ready for a challenge! Beverly Hills here I come! :)

  23. Why was his dried cum on the wall? I don't get that at all. I understand that it wasn't in you, or on you, or on a tissue or something, but a) did you guys aim for the wall, and b) why didn't you wipe it off the wall before it dried?

  24. fantastic post, excellent and what an ending. Now i want to hear pina colada so badly!
    I believe a room of one's own is so important, especially for woman. Isn't that what Virginia Woolf said? I forget…

  25. Oh no someone had to get the pina colada song stuck in my head..frat party flashbacks…ha ha. And when do you guys decide if you will move to the house in Austin? By the way, I love the pictures. Just finally seeing some of them (and the ones from Italy). It adds so much to your stories. Have a good weekend. And Mizz Sallie, thanks for that lucid rebuttal. I won't bite, sorry. Blog comments are not dueling grounds, I don't want to get all pedestrian UP IN HERE! :)

  26. I always got called old-fashioned when I said I didn't want to live with someone until I was married. You hit the nail on the head. It's not about withholding the goods or "being sure"- after a year or two spending every night in someone else's space or yours, it's pretty clear.

    Now I'm ending a live-in relationship and realizing it's a divorce of its own after five years. Next time, I'll stick to my guns.

  27. Well done. I've never offically lived with someone but as a person who tends to want to run when things get bad, I get what you are saying.

    I absolutely echo everyone who said today that it is great to see how much you've grown in your writing. I don't want to use the word "mature", but whatever it is, it's bringing a new element to your writing style. Much appreciated.

  28. stephanie – some days i really hate you. see – you say everything i want to say – everything i try to say – but you say it in better words, in more eloquent terms. you make me look shabby and fake.

    the post was beautiful and true. i have been there and felt it all and lost the eleven pounds and gained back another

  29. "Break-ups get you thin, but you're too miserable to enjoy or appreciate it."

    Amen sister!
    (does that sound as weird as it looks?)

  30. Hey Stephanie,

    I had to fight the urge to give advice on this post. Reason: It's written so much like a letter to a friend and I'm such a "fixer". In that I tend to always strive, work, reach toward improvement in all areas of my life. My relationships, organization of my house, my kids, especially myself. I recently read, "perfectionism isn't about being perfect, it's about being hypercritical and judgmental." Well, I'm still working on that one.

    My husband, who is very much a "Martian", believes that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." He feels that the "home improvement committee of one", as he calls me, implies that he is "broken" and needs some "fixin'". That I don't love him "just the way he is". I do. But I also believe that everything can be improved upon. And marriage takes a lot of work to keep it new.

    My point – I'm getting there!! – is that I'd really love to see a post on what you would like to hear from your commenters. Do you appreciate constructive criticism or do you hate it? Would you prefer that it's centered only on your writing or also on the subject matter?

    I do have one suggestion (sorry, can't help myself!!) I did notice that you mentioned "I miss being out" about 6 times, in different variations, in one paragraph. May I suggest, if you'd like to get out, visiting the Art Expo this weekend. My good friend Shelly (Michele Byrne) is displaying her paintings there; Booth #506 at the Jacob Javits Center, 655 W. 35th Street. Stop by and say hi. (Tell her Dru sent ya!!)

  31. Wow, this post is very impressive. I think it is one of your most powerful blog entries to date. Good luck with everything that is going on in your life…

  32. Awesome post Stephanie! You are so hilarious! But I have to ask about the cum stains on the wall. Either he had one to many powerful orgasms or your bed was too close to the wall. Ok, I need to go wash my hands now.

  33. Thanks for talking about your gut-wrenching breakups. I am going through the worst one ever right now, and seeing that it's possible to bounce back (or grow) from these things gives me hope.

  34. Stephanie
    Like a large number of your readers,I am rooting for you, and hope good and peaceful times, are right around the corner for you!!!!

  35. Break ups are hard! I was having a conversation with a good friend about all the guys that we liked didn't like etc. I call it the four Ls Love Life Loss and Learning….I like your blog you talk about the four Ls. That's important keep it up.


  36. I'm amused by how many people are concerned about those stains on the wall! You want to know how they got there? Seriously? I think anyone who wants to know should spend this lovely Sunday afternoon in bed with a SO and figure out how to make that happen. It isn't brain surgery, folks!

  37. I miss being out too. Miss city life and random run-ins and not knowing what might happen tonight. Miss TV doesnt matter cause life is happening. Miss New York. Thanks… was really good.

  38. You know, I can't wait to have a relationship! A good one! I, unfortunately, have chosen two absolute losers. My first marriage at age 35 went bust. It seemed as though after having lived with him for 5 years that all seemed well and good. He was older than me. As soon as I signed my name on the dotted line, the Jekyll personality changed, permanently, to Hyde. After being hospitalized, I thought, I needed my space. And I took advantage of it. Nice quiet life, dogs, walks, drawing…. I met my second husband, a tall Gentle Ben-type guy. Treated me like gold. I lost a huge amount of weight because I was so happy. However, his insecurities and his thoughts about my pending infidelities led him to "jump the gun" and decided to have an affair with someone he met on line in a sex-chat room. Come to find out, it was a local woman who weighed almost 400 pounds. I knew that the loss of this relationship was not due to something I did. He was not secure in who he was and who I was becoming and he couldn't handle it. I needed my free space and took advantage of it.
    I struck out twice and still I hope for something more. That time for "escape" provided me with some insight on things. Provided me with the time to find out who I was and what I did not need in my life. I feel that for the first time, my happiness comes from within and not from what someone can bring to me. We all have lessons in life that we need to learn. Our free time, whether it is 5 minutes or 5 months, is what gives us the time to reconnect with who we are and not with who every one wants us to be. We all need to be individuals, independent of someone else first, before we can take on the challenges of living with someone else. At some point, when your resources are depleted from the constant giving, you realize that you failed to take care of yourself. No matter what, you are the most important person, bar none. Having a relationship is the bonus of wanting to share because you have something to share. I don't think that we, as women, remember that we are as important as those we take care of. (I know that there are men out there who are in similar circumstances.) We need to escape and rejuvenate and replenish. It is vital to our existence.
    I am very pleased to say that I have tossed my hat back into dating. But this time, I am not panicked about being alone. It is about companionship and similarities. It is about finding true love and not the next best thing. I am smarter for what I have been through; yet, I am hopeful of finding happiness. I will never, ever forget, however, that I won't get lost in the equation; I will continue to take the time to take care of myself. This quote is not "all about me". I just wanted to share how personal space has helped me connect.
    Stephanie, keep writing. Keep challenging us to think. These are your personal experiences; but the opportunity to learn should never be lost on us the readers. Blog on! I am with ya!

  39. On the one hand, sometimes I think that marriage is only an official and financial acknowledgement to the general public that two people are bound to each other; but since divorce and real life are a part of modern culture, marriage in our time seems more like a curable condition than some permanent tattoo that requires laser surgery and several rounds of painful skin-grafting to be whisked away and erased.

    And then on the other hand, each time I spend time with my other half, it dawns on me that marriage isn't a condition or some arrangement; it's a place where there's protection and responsibility and warmth and a solitude that's hard to describe. Knowing on one hand that no one can intrude on that solitude, and knowing on the other that one cannot leave that solitude, is at once very powerful and very daunting. But I think when it's right, when the other person with whom you're sharing this responsibility and accountability is The Right Person, it ceases to be legal, financial or a matter of which apartment or neighborhood and more about willingly sharing your life — CD's, books, furniture, habits, sounds, patterns — with another person fully and totally. And on some level it involves the maturization of acknowledging the word "I" suddenly and hereafter is the word "we." It's a good scary, like a roller-coaster or a horror movie. Provided you know the situation is right, even if you on occasion get scared, you know you're in the right place and you let the I give way to we.

    Even if it's not just your name on the mailbox.

  40. I'm curious as to why you refer to it as c-o-m-e and not c-u-m. I am NOT correcting your spelling (just so no one jumps on me about that).

    And here is my guess about it being on the wall, since everyone keeps asking. Either you were using the withdrawl method, where instead of your stomach, tits, or back, he just shot straight and hit the wall. Or you didn't want to swallow. Or am I way off?

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