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Jan 30
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Personal Histories

The Books

Bills, garbage duty, cleaning up after dinner—living together will test any couple’s bond. But the act of combining bookshelves supplies its own revelations.

Five years ago, I moved in with my partner Dustin, joining him in his Hell’s Kitchen apartment in New York City. He, like me, had lived alone with his things just as he wanted them for some time, and I knew I was, despite being a beloved, invited guest, something of a crisis also. Dustin had lived in his apartment for 20 years, and had a great love of chairs, for example. I had arrived with approximately 30 boxes of books after having lived in perhaps 20 apartments within the same period—the life of a visiting writer.

We each carefully slimmed down our things. He brought some of those chairs to the charity shop down the street, and I brought some of those books to Housing Works Bookstore. And, as a love gift to me, he built me bookshelves that run from my lucky crystal chandelier in the kitchen to his candle chandelier in the living room, through every room. The apartment, at 450 square feet, is now something like a very nice if eccentric used bookstore, dotted with our bed, desks, kitchen, and couch, and of course, many excellent chairs.

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Jan 30
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