#49 Let’s talk about the future
The next few weeks go by awfully fast. I have to work so much that I only see Dshawn for one or two hours a day, since his schedule is completely different from mine. I have one day off a week and it’s never during the weekend when Dshawn is free, so we don’t even manage to reschedule our date night. He hangs out with Aston a lot, visits his parents a few times and invites Marcus over for another men date. I on the other hand don’t get the chance see anyone. I barely even manage to text Caroline in between shifts.
Douchebag manager James Miller shows his face at Giovanni’s a few more times, but he doesn’t dare yell at me anymore, because we both know Kieran and I are the reason that the restaurant didn’t crash and burn because of his stupidity.
I’m in charge of finding us a new waitress and training her, so I spent a lot of time saying basic stuff like “Don’t point at the customers from across the room, that’s rude.” and “You should be able to carry more than just one plate of food at a time.” On top of all that, Annie’s daughter got sick, so she can’t make it in for a full week. James wanted to fire her, but I put a stop to that. Stupid asshole is going to fire everyone who keeps this place running if I let him.
Finally, after weeks of barely seeing my own boyfriend, I have a full Saturday off. We spent the whole morning in bed, making love, and I swear it’s the best morning I’ve had in a long time. Terrence calls to ask me if I can cover for a sick bartender at Animals, but I tell him no. He doesn’t like that, but he accepts it, because he knows that I’ve been working way more than anyone else for a long time.
“If you need to go, you need to go,” Dshawn tells me softly, kissing me and pulling me back against him under the covers.
“Right now, I don’t need to do anything except spend the entire day with my boyfriend,” I tell him, snuggling up to him. It’s almost noon, but I don’t want to get up and leave this lovely bubble we’re in. “I know I’ve been working way too much lately. I miss this, being with you.”
“Me too,” he agrees. “But I get it. And I was thinking… if money is really this tight for you that you need to keep working two jobs… We already live together in practice, and I’d say it’s going pretty good, right? You haven’t even been in your apartment in weeks, all your mail is forwarded here… What do you say you stop paying rent and move in for real?”
I prop myself up on my elbow to look at him. Truthfully, I’ve been wanting to talk to him about this as well, since I agree that we’re ready for me to give up my own apartment, but I don’t want it to be because of money. It’s nice to save money on rent, but I’m not strapped for cash. I want to move in here because I love him and want to give this relationship my all.
“Money isn’t tight,” I tell him, wondering why he thinks that. “I have a small apartment in a shitty part of town, so rent isn’t that bad. I’ve got no student loans thanks to my parents, and I’ve been working my ass off ever since I was 18, so I’ve got some savings. I’m still driving my dad’s old car that he gave me when I went to college, and it still runs perfectly, so I’ve really got nothing to worry about moneywise. I don’t want you to feel like you have to save me from crippling debt.”
“You’ve got money saved up?” Dshawn asks, looking surprised. “Then why do you work two jobs?”
I shrug. “I started at Giovanni’s seven years ago, but Gio only needed me a few hours a week, so I took on the bartender gig for one night a week. That was four years ago. When I got out of college, I asked Gio and Terrence if I could work more, and they both said yes, so I figured I’d just work as many hours as they could give me. The plan was to save up money until I figured out what kind of job I wanted, find a better apartment… but well, I just kept on going, I guess.”
Dshawn is baffled. “So… you don’t actually need two jobs to make ends meet? One would be enough?”
“Yeah, I guess?” I never even considered that.
He sits up with a frown. “Then why don’t you quit one of them?”
That’s a good question. Why don’t I? “Yeah, I guess I could,” I agree with a smile. “Oh, just think of all the time we’d have together. If I quit Animals I can finally have a normal sleep schedule! We could see each other every evening, fall asleep together…” Why did I never think of that before? “I’ll have to talk to Gio first, make sure that I’ve got enough hours guaranteed so I won’t be in trouble moneywise, but I could always use some of my savings if need be. I won’t be able to save as much, but I’d actually much rather spend more time with you.”
“Why didn’t you figure this out months ago? Or even one or two years ago?” Dshawn asks, still looking like he can’t believe we’re having this conversation. “It’s not like you actually love either of your jobs. You’re great at them, but you said yourself that neither of them are your dream. Why would you work two jobs without needing to?”
I shrug. “I’ve never had a boyfriend before. And my parents and I aren’t tight… So… it’s basically just my friends who I’d miss when I had a few weeks like this. I’m just kind of used to working a lot, partying with my friends, and doing it all over again.” Now that I’m actually thinking about quitting Animals, it makes a lot of sense. The many shifts Terrence has me pulling lately have made sure that I sleep during the hours I have off from Giovanni’s, I’m tired all the time, and I don’t even get to go dancing with my friends because I’m always working at night. “Okay. That’s it. I’ll call Terrence tonight to give him my two weeks’ notice.”
“Really?” Dshawn smiles widely, happier than I’ve seen him in weeks. “Are you sure?”
I nod. “I am. What is the purpose of having a boyfriend when I barely even get to see him?”
“Purpose?” He grins and nudges my side. “Do I need to have a purpose?”
I kiss him hungrily, ready to give him the purpose of getting me off for the third time that morning, but I pull back when I realize we didn’t really address the living situation.
“About our apartments…” I start, trying to gauge his reaction. “If it’s okay with you, I think I’m ready to give up my apartment. And not because of money, but just because it makes sense. And I think we’re ready.”
“That’s great,” Dshawn says immediately. “And I agree. We can finally move that couch of yours in here. It so much comfier than mine.”
I laugh and kiss him softly. “I was hoping you would say that.”
We finally get out of bed and have some breakfast, still in our pajamas. We keep talking about which of my furniture should get tossed and which pieces would fit in here nicely. His apartment is roomier than mine, so I should be able to keep the stuff I like most. There’s a spare bedroom that he mostly uses for laundry and to store stuff, but we could easily turn that into a sort of study, so that if he’s got some work to do while I’ve got friends over, he’ll have a quiet place to go.
“If we’re going to do this properly, we should probably talk about money,” Dshawn says while we’re washing the dishes from breakfast. “I know it’s a sticky subject, but you’ve already seen all my finances before we were even dating, so we’re already halfway through the talk.”
“So you’re basically saying that you need to know how much I have to figure out if I’m a gold digger?” I ask, sticking out my tongue and splashing him with some water.
He grins and throws some foam my way. “Exactly.”
Once the dishes are done, we sit down on the couch for a serious conversation. Moving in for real is romantic and amazing, but Dshawn is right that we need to be practical about this. It’s a miracle that we’re actually doing this without me freaking out like a spaz. I guess I must truly be ready for this.
“What we basically need to figure out is if we want one person to pay the bills and the other to transfer some money over, or if we’ll open a joint account where we both put some money into each month.”
“Joint account, please,” I say immediately. “This is your apartment right now and everything is in your name, linked to your account, so I would logically be the one paying you, and I really don’t feel like figuring out how much I owe you each month. I’d prefer a set amount that I have to put into the joint account.”
Dshawn nods. “I’d prefer that too, but I have to warn you that you do need to realize that it means in theory that I could use your money for things that we didn’t agree on, or even create debt on there.”
“Erm… were you planning on doing that?” I ask, a little confused. “Or are you saying that you’re scared I will ruin your credit score?”
He laughs. “No, of course not. I’ve just been reading up on this these past weeks and I want you to have all the information.”
“You’ve been reading up on this?” I ask, touching his face in a soft caress. “That’s sweet.”
“Yeah, well, I was hoping you’d agree to move in for real,” he replies with a cute smile. “Figured I might as well google what we need to take care of. You were gone a lot these past weeks and I had nothing to do during the evenings, so I figured I might as well start preparing for our future together.”
I’m tearing up – he’s just so sweet. I can’t believe I found someone like him without even looking for it. He’s so amazing. It’s crazy to think that I almost let him get away by being stupid enough to try and ignore my feelings for him because of Caroline, and then almost scaring him off with the little stunt I pulled with Max.
“I love you,” I say, wiping my tears with a smile. “So much.”
“Me too, baby.” He wipes away a tear I missed and moves in for a sweet little kiss. “More than I’ve ever loved anyone before.”
I take deep breath, trying to keep myself from melting into a useless puddle of mush. “Okay, erm… Let’s talk about money.”
“Yes, money,” Dshawn agrees, laughing at how hard I’m trying to sound professional. “So, a joint account should be good. We can each keep our own accounts and just put a certain amount of money into the joint one each month to pay for rent, electricity bills, groceries, that stuff. I already did the math on what we should need each month.” He picks up his phone from the coffee table and shows me the chart. Of course, it’s impeccable. The guy knows his way around a computer program, after all. And I know enough about finances to see that he’s thought of everything.
“Perfect,” I say, nodding. “We should make the payment a little higher than needed, just in case, so we never get in trouble when a bill is a little higher than we expected. We can always divide the money left over at the end of the year between us or take a vacation together or something.”
Dshawn smiles at the thought of us booking our first vacation together. “Then I guess we only need to discuss how much each of us should contribute.”
“Fifty-fifty, right?” I say, shrugging.
“Well…” He gets a little uncomfortable. “You know how much I earn, my savings, everything, but I don’t actually know anything about your finances. And if you earn less than I do, I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting you pay the same amount. We could decide on a certain percentage or something.”
“Oh right!” I grab my phone and open the app from my bank. I enter my code and scoot a little closer to Dshawn so he can see the screen as well. “My income varies, since I have different shifts each month, but the app automatically calculates the average. So… this is what I earn at Animals… and this is my paycheck from Giovanni’s…” I tap the numbers while I talk. “These are my savings, obviously… And in this graph you can see how much I’ve spent and saved the past couple of months. Obviously, I will take a cut in earnings when I stop at Animals, but with the money I save on rent and bills, that should balance each other out more or less.” I tap another graph. “A year ago, I did an in depth analysis of what I spent my money, and that didn’t change much since then, so here you can see how much I usually spend on my phone bill, groceries, social activities…” I keep talking, showing him everything in the app. I’ve been on top of my finances ever since my first accounting class in my first year of college, so I’m actually quite proud to show him everything.
“Wow,” Dshawn breathes, his eyes so wide they’re almost popping out of his head. “You… you… how did you…? I mean… wow, you’re rich.”
I chuckle. “No, I’m not rich. Don’t be ridiculous.”
“That’s like… ten times as much as I’ve got in my account!” he argues, looking like he’s going to be sick. “I mean, I know that your parents put you through college, but still… no offence, but I didn’t think that waitressing and bartending would allow you to save so much money.”
“None taken,” I assure him, catching onto how uncomfortable he is. “I just hardly ever take days off, and I’ve been working way more than fulltime for over two years now, while my rent is pretty low. I guess I’m just lucky.”
“I can’t believe you kept working two jobs with this amount of money in the bank,” he mutters. “Maybe I should quit my IT job and be a waiter.”
I laugh at that, throwing my head back. “I’ve seen your paychecks, Dshawn, and you earn more at that firm than I do at Giovanni’s. Way more. You just haven’t been working there that long and I work two jobs, like you said, and my parents bought me my car and paid my tuition. You did everything on your own. I think that we might be the most moneywise 20-something-year-olds ever.”
“Maybe,” he agrees. “Still, I feel bad now.”
“Why?” I ask, surprised at that. “Does it matter how much money I have? Wouldn’t it be worse if I’d just showed you my crippling debt and horrible credit score?”
“I just feel…” He sighs. “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I’m supposed to be the man in this relationship. You’ve got more money than I do, slept with more people than I have…”
“So?” I ask, getting a little annoyed. “Are you saying that just because I’m a girl I should be poor and chaste, searching for a rich playboy to take care of me?” He can’t be serious right now!
“No, no, of course not!” He’s struggling to find the right words. “This is coming out all wrong. I love you, and of course I know that it’s stupid that I feel like any of this makes me less of a man, but I just…” He grunts. “I want to take care of you, but instead I’m the poor insecure one.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” I grab his hands in mine. “You do take care of me! That’s not about money for me. You are patient with me, comfort me when I feel bad, talk about your feelings with me, pick me up at work after a late shift… You put my needs before your own when I need you to… I’ve got zero complaints, Dshawn. And yeah, you get insecure sometimes, but so do I. And as long as we keep talking about things, I think we’ll be just fine.”
He nods and smiles at my praise. “Okay, you’re right. I’m being a male chauvinist pig right now, I realize that. I’ve just never had such an independent, strong girlfriend before.”
“Please,” I scoff. “You used to date Caroline!”
Dshawn grins at that. “She’s very different from you, trust me. Yeah, she’s strong and independent, just like you, but not in the same way. I feel like she needs a man, in a way. She’s obviously a very nurturing person: she’s teacher who loves to cook, after all. And I bet she’ll get a whole bunch of kids one day and be the perfect mother. You’re not like that.”
What the fuck is he saying? I feel my blood boiling. “So I can’t cook, I’m not nurturing, and I won’t be a good mother one day?”
“Oh wow, no no no!” Dshawn exclaims. “This is coming out all wrong. No, no, what I mean is that you don’t need a man to be happy. You were doing just fine without me, although I hope that you like having me in your life, of course. And yeah, you can cook, but you don’t enjoy spending hours and hours in the kitchen just to cook a meal to make other people happy. And honestly…” He looks at me with a bit of panic in his brown eyes. “…you’re not really the nurturing type. And that’s not a bad thing!” He holds up his hands apologetically. “You’re fierce. You’re not scared to get angry and to get into arguments. You yell at people at work on a daily basis, you take charge in every aspect of your life… Just look at the whole business plan thing, and how you handled things with Finn. I’m in awe of you, Shaughna. But no, you’re not nurturing, not in the way Caroline is.”
Oh wow. I didn’t realize those things about myself. He’s right, of course. “Do you…” I swallow, trying to force myself to ask the question that I’m not sure I want the answer to. “Do you wish I was?”
“What?” he asks, looking at me like I’m crazy. “Of course not! There’s a reason why Caroline and I never worked out together and that you and I just… klick. I don’t need someone to nurture me all the time, I need someone to kick my ass and keep me on my toes. Someone who pushes me to be my best self. And that’s you.”
Ah fuck, there I go again with the tears. Every time we have a conversation longer than ten minutes, I end up crying from all the nice things he says about me. “I love you.”
He smiles and leans in to kiss me. “Love you too,” he says against my lips, making me smile into him.
“Call Terrence and you landlord,” Dshawn says when we break apart. “I can’t wait to officially live with you, and to finally have more time with you.”
I couldn’t agree more.