Picture taken specially for Maya, and testing out our smile function. Maya’s garam chai mugs from Good Earth, India.
In between the reception on my side and Eizwan’s side, Eizwan and I did the utterly nutterly thing: we moved out of our parent’s home. Looking back, it was a crazy thing, probably bordering on the stupid end – I was still very emotional from the wedding, from seeing friends I’ve not seen in ages and then to move out from the comforts of home to something that was rather alien. The house we moved in was old and clean-ish, with a fresh coat of paint, I thought the house smelt awful. We were living out of a suitcase, the kitchen had its daily share of cockroaches and it just felt so empty.
Fitting I suppose, that almost every morning I would wake up in tears.
From one perspective, it could look like I was overreacting. It’s not as though I lived faraway from my parents – just 7 mins away. And it was not as though I could not go back home but it never occurred to me how used to my life I’ve become. Having Eizwan by my side did not automatically make things better. I think it’s ridiculous when people say they wake up in the morning and see their husbands and All Izz Vell. Or perhaps they are just very lucky and I’m a lot more emotionally unstable.
On the other hand, it just reminded me how different life was going to be. So now the two of us have this entire house to manage, from the cost of living to actually making it look nice and hospitable. And in all those silly kursus kahwin that they talk about, they never talk about how hard and expensive it is to start up a household. Despite trying not to be all princess-like, I discover how picky I truly am. I don’t do bathrooms without shower curtains, I don’t do not having curtains, dining room tables, a proper workable kitchen where I can bake.
So I would cry again – and poor Eizwan would try and comfort me. Of course, looking back, I wish I was not so hard on Eizwan, or so selfish. The change was hard on him as well – we’re used to being on our own, essentially despite being together for 7 years, we were still two individuals, looking out for ourselves. Looking after each other and out for each other always, is a bit of a new mindset.
Still, even if I cried an ocean, it was not as though the house was going to do itself up. It was up to Eizwan and me. While I did not mind making puppy eyes to my parents and in-laws for help, Eizwan was certainly the more stoic one. He wanted to do things himself. Eizwan is fiercely independent, he tries to do everything himself, short of actually sawing wood and making his own furniture. Knowing we don’t actually have that much time, we managed a compromise. I dried my tears, and we sat in front of the big telly Eizwan’s parents gave us (which shows nothing since we’re not subscribing to cable), with coffee on our makeshift coffee table (made out of Eizwan’s empty PS3 box) we made a plans on how . Eizwan and I would do up the house, bit by bit, and I would raid our parent’s and our in-law’s place for stuff that they don’t need. Trust me – being shameless in this instance really helps. Go to your auntie’s house and tell sad stories about how you don’t have plates and you’re eating off paper plates. Watch the plates come right in. Keeps the cost down.
In this odd instance, Eizwan and I both did not receive as many kitchen/household items for wedding presents. We did however, receive an extraordinary number of vases and thankfully, money. And then we did one of the hardest things in our new life, and something Suze Orman would be proud of. We sat down and did a budget of our incomes, and how to do up our house. Again, nothing the silly kursus kahwin spoke about – like for real, nothing in the kursus kahwin actually helped me in my married life except to question my own identity in a bad way. But I digress. It’s hard discussing finances, like openly discussing finances. Despite being similar in values, you find yourself not being all too similar and you start arguing.
It took a few days to come up with something we can agree too. So here are the things that I’ve learnt on starting a household from scratch.
1. Have a budget on things you can’t live without. Different people have different priorities. I can’t live without a sofa set or a complete-ish kitchen, I need to lounge in the living room and I hate eating out, so I must be able to cook. Eizwan needs a dining table. We can do without a dresser. And I can do without curtains as long as I don’t flash the neighbours.
2. When buying all these ridiculously practical items, like coffee tables, dining tables, plates for eating – set aside some money and splurge on something completely unnecessary and ridiculous that both you and your husband want. It’s a means of keeping your sanity, it’ll help, I promise you. Eizwan and I bought paintings from Bali, and will be setting aside some money to frame them. So I may not have carpets, we’ll serve you tea on the floor – but you can admire my pretty paintings from the floor.
3. You can never have enough hangers.
4. I truly have my priorities wrong. So what if I’m cooking out of a multi-cooker but brewing fresh coffee everyday. Freshly brewed coffee is what makes my mornings go.
5. You can turn into your mother. So you start scrubbing things, murdering roaches, proudly laying liner in cupboards before you pile the plates in the cupboard.
6. But it still won’t be enough for your mum, who will still find that you’re just doing up your house too slowly.
7. Cats make everything better. Especially when you’re feeling low, and they wiggle their little butts before pouncing on a rogue lizard that’s been poo-ing in your sparkling clean kitchen. They’re even more awesome when they present to you the head of the lizard. But they’re not so awesome when they throw up after eating said lizard.
8. There’s always one room in the house that’s out to get you. In our case, it’s the bathroom. The toilet gets clogged and then it leaks. And you get it fixed. And then it gets clogged again. But then it gets fixed. But not before it starts leaking. And there’s no shower curtains, I hate wet floors. It’s a rental, so it’s a shame that I can’t actually smash it to pieces, because I daydream about it everyday.
I suppose it’s fair to say that I’m adjusting slowly. The dust is settling from the wedding, and work is starting to ramp up again. I’m busy during the day, writing and then picking up my sister from the hospital. I’m settling into a routine of sorts, one that involves Avatar: The Last Airbender at night, breakfast with freshly brewed coffee in the mornings. It’s still difficult, there are days where I wonder why on earth were we mad enough to do this. Life in KL is expensive, the cats meow at three am, the dogs bark at five. Independence is overrated.
But of course there are some days, when I wake up in the mornings and the sun streams down through my makeshift curtains – and Eizwan is with me, in those quiet moments right before it becomes all mad, I think, maybe it’s not so bad after all.