Last night's movie was excellent. Perfect for our crowd. I highly recommend it. And the after-party was lots of fun -- free meatballs, nice readers, a "Simpsons" pinball machine, etc.
A funny story about last night -- before the screening, one of my friends noticed that Stephen King was in the lobby of the movie theater. I stood there watching him get popcorn and I started wondering, "Is Stephen King a secret Love Letters reader? Will he be in the audience tonight?" Sadly, he went into another screening room. But he should have joined us. I always thought that "Christine" was a wonderful love story -- and boy would it make a good Love Letter.
We'll do another event soon.
Today's letter is about mice.
I'm a country mouse. Although I have lived in the city on a couple of occasions, the longest stretch being 15 months, I have always been drawn to green places with open spaces. So 11 years ago when I sought to purchase a home I bought a house with a forested yard in a small town with lots and lots of green on the map. My home is about 30 miles from the city and since living here I have commuted as much as 1.5 hours to work, but now my job is just 10 miles away. I'm 37, and have been divorced for four years.
Two years ago I fell in love with a city mouse (same age, never been married, had two long relationships before me). She has lived within 20 miles of where she was born her entire life. She grew up near the city. She went to college in the city. She worked and lived in the city (but never with a boyfriend). One year ago, my beautiful city mouse decided to buy a home in the mountains, nearly four hours away, near her favorite place to play. She moved many of her belongings to the mountain, and the rest she moved into my home in the country.
I have always tried to make her feel welcome in my house. I gave her the guest room and a dresser for her clothes, another room for all her miscellany, and made space in the shed for her sports equipment. I charge her no rent, she pays no bills. She had some trouble adjusting last summer, but by the fall she seemed to settle in, pruning the shrubs and planting bulbs in the yard. This spring she did lots more landscaping, making me think that she's beginning to appreciate the country life. She still stays with friends in the city when it makes sense for work (a few nights a month on average), and spends as much time at her mountain home as possible. She's freelance and doesn't work a set schedule or even in a set place, but she does seem to work in the city quite a bit.
I've always known my city mouse to be moody, but lately the trigger seems to be one thing: the remote location of my town. She knows I don't want to stay here forever, but this is a bad time to sell, the house needs some work before I could market it anyway, and I simply can't afford this much house any closer to the city. Last night she called on her way back from the mountains. I could tell she was in a mood and asked her what was wrong. She was frustrated. Nothing about my country house is convenient for her.
"I don't have to live here forever," I told her. "Neither do I," she replied. "We'll talk about this later."
We haven't yet had a chance to talk, and I’m reeling inside .I think she's strongly considering moving back to the city, as she recently made a comment that she could afford to rent in the city and keep up her mortgage in the mountains.
I absolutely adore my city mouse and want to create a life with her, and have told her as much. I also completely understand her frustration with my location, but I don't know what I can do make this situation any better. I will be devastated if she decides to move out, and also think it would be the end of the relationship. What can I do to convince her stay?
– Country Mouse, Metrowest
Can you move to the mountain? I mean, CM, this is basically a long-distance relationship. Long-distance relationships are a drag when there's no plan to close the gap. My advice is to come up with a plan. Even if that means renting your house. Even if that means leaving it vacant until you're ready to sell.
Instead of barking at each other about the status quo, sit down and come up with a real timeline for the mountain move. She's tired and I get that. Tell her that you empathize and that you want to come up with a plan -- whether it's joint mountain living, a specific date for you to sell no matter what, or simply a better way to do the distance. I'm not opposed to involving a third party in the discussion. Perhaps a third person can come up with an option that you and city mouse can't.
I'll also point out that your letter makes it sound like she's doing the hauling, so it's no surprise you're getting attitude over the phone. Be practical. Consider what sacrifices you can make. As you said, you adore your city mouse and you want to create a life with her. That may mean selling your home before you want to. That may mean driving to the mountains more than you want to. But isn't it worth it? Sit down and make a plan.
Readers? Am I missing something? Can you help Country Mouse deal with his angry city mouse? Should he sell his home in a bad market to save his relationship? Are they doomed or is this just a logistical issue? Discuss.