Confessions of a Lesbian Cliché … The U-Haul!

Kirsten Leah, Lesbian, Relationships

By Kirsten Leah

two woman standing holding hands

U-hauling is up there with plaid shirts and undercuts as one of the oldest lesbian tropes in the book. As someone who’s done it with no less than four different partners, I put my hands up and admit to being an absolute card-carrying cliché.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that two lesbians who have been consistently shagging for three weeks will very soon feel the urge to move in together.

U-hauling is up there with plaid shirts and undercuts as one of the oldest lesbian tropes in the book. As someone who’s done it with no less than four different partners, I put my hands up and admit to being an absolute card-carrying cliché. What can I say? I easily swing into a comfortable routine with my partner. I get swept up in the rush of closeness and excitement. And, honestly, as a millennial, there are few things more appealing than having someone to split the bills with.

And why not? Your girlfriend’s at yours pretty much every night anyway. You’ve already fallen into the routine of date night dinners and drinks, stumbling back home together, and her waking you up the next day with a black coffee and a cheeky bit of morning sex. Rinse and repeat.

Needless to say, my prematurely living with partners ended in disaster three times. My first U-haul was when I was seventeen (as with a lot of deplorably bad habits, I started young). I moved to the Isle of Wight, of all the godforsaken places, to live with my first ‘serious’ girlfriend. We lived in a shitty flat, working shitty jobs to get by. It lasted less than three months. Swept up in each other, and feeling that this was what adults did, we dove in headfirst without considering what the reality would be. Anyone with half a brain could – and did – tell us it was never going to work, we were falling into the same ole trap that had consumed many lesbian relationships before ours. They were right. Obviously. The heady new relationship rush quickly subsided into bitchy bickering, both of us deeply unsatisfied with our lot. By the time we called it quits, we didn’t even like each other anymore.

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Having to move back to my mum’s house with my tail between my legs wasn’t, however, enough to stop me making the same mistake again. And then again. Third time was definitely not lucky in my case.

So I decided that I’d never rush into living with someone again. By this point I had bought my flat. I had to make a fresh start on all this. A new leaf had to be turned. I did up the flat and made space in it for me, and only me. I was dating, but nothing serious. I didn’t even want to commit to another relationship at that point, let alone move someone in after a month of knowing them. The ironic thing about my unfortunate U-hauling habit is that I actually love my own space. I relished it, at that time, and happily planned out the years I’d spend living alone, learning to love myself and my space and my freedom, casually dating but never taking it to that next stage.

I met someone three months later.

We kept it casual at first. That lasted a couple of months. And then we were in that wonderful familiar spiral of drunken date nights, decadent lay-ins, cozy rainy days spent on the sofa binging Netflix, and wow, babe, has it really been three weeks since you last went home?

cardboard box lot

I had a little word with myself. Told myself I couldn’t make the same mistake again, that this was something that felt a little too good to fuck up by rushing in. I was too old for this teenage shit.

(Even though this time it felt right. Even though, despite my flat being my own jealously guarded dominion, she somehow slotted into it just fine.)

And then 2020 happened. It’s been a funny old year, hasn’t it?

Sometime in March, the deputy chief medical officer of England stated the following:

“If you are two individuals, two halves of the couple, living in separate households then ideally they should stay in those households. The alternative might be that, for quite a significant period going forward, they should test the strength of their relationship and decide whether they should permanently be resident in another household.”

So there we had it – actual government advice for the entire country to try their hands at a lesbian U-haul. Could anyone have seen that coming? Not a fuck. And needless to say, she moved in a couple of days later. Here we go again.

Part of my mind was tensed up and waiting for the inevitable failure of the relationship. Past experience made me wary. But … it just didn’t come. Her changing the address on her driving licence wasn’t the death knell I assumed it would be. I changed my council tax status from single occupancy to full fat and we didn’t automatically turn on each other. We even went furniture shopping together, the peak of all domesticity, and things continued to tick along nicely.

Celebrating Female Desire. Artwork by Paola Rossi

There were small bones of contention, obviously. She likes listening to Town 102 in the morning. We have wildly different views on the art pieces we want decorating the walls. I’d rather die than use a jar of Dolmio, whereas the idea of cooking everything from scratch sends her round the bend. And if these things sound petty and wildly inconsequential, that’s because they are. Even though we plunged into the dreaded U-haul (government-advised as it was), it didn’t end our relationship. It deepened it. It strengthened it. It moved us on to a whole other stage of togetherness.

Maybe us lesbians have got it right. Despite how wrong it can and does go when we haul ass to move in with each other after the third date, there’s always the chance it’ll work out. Why waste time if the right relationship is there, waiting, and you’ve found a person you wouldn’t mind waking up with every morning? Life’s too short to spend years dithering just because ‘the rules’ say it’s too soon. And if it doesn’t work out, you can always try again. And again.

Me and my fourth U-haul have been together for ten months now. We’re still living together – in fact, we’re engaged already.

I never learn.

Kirsten is 28, gay, enjoys watching nerdy sci-fi films, embarrassing herself at open-mic nights, and strapping wheels to her feet and hitting people. Apparently, she also likes oversharing with people on the internet too.

Read all of Kirsten’s Confessions of a Lesbian Cliche posts

Read more blogs by incredible LGBTQ+ Women

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Confessions of a Lesbian Cliché: The L-Word Fantasy

Growing Pains, Kirsten Leah, Lesbian, The L Word

By Kirsten Leah

Growing up (sort of) has taught me that mates are mates, gay or straight, and that being an unbearable arsehole will leave you alone very quickly.

Like every gay girl of my era, I was an avid fan of The L Word in my early teens. I’d download every season through LimeWire (never minding the 327843597 viruses that would accompany and ultimately destroy the family computer), and secretly binge them by myself late at night. As a shy, closeted baby dyke they offered a hopeful glimmer of an aspirational future. I could be out, cool, successful, attractive, and have proper relationships, however meaningful, with women. I could spend my days killing it at work and my evenings at some cosmopolitan gay bar with a close friendship group of fellow girl-loving girls.

The thing that drew me to The L Word so much – ok, besides the sex scenes – was the idea of having a group of gay friends like Shane, Bette, Alice, et al. People in the same situation as me, whom I could share my women woes with over a beer.

Because it’s lonely when you start out. In my high school of 750ish students, there was only one out LGBT+ person – and, spoiler alert, it wasn’t me. The idea of a don’t-give-a-shit, gay friendship group à la L Word was about as unattainable as walking to the moon. I had a good group of friends in school, but it was a group I had to put a mask on for. I’d pretend to fancy this actor or that singer, and I’d get off with the odd boy, to keep the mask in place. I loved my straight mates, but at the same time yearned for friends whose ~feelings~ were more similar to my own.

The search for such a group intensified when I came out – and coming out coincided with a definite increase in going out. Aged 16, I discovered, to my pleasant surprise, that I could get served in a few select venues in town. This included Betty’s, the local gay club. I’d persuade my (incredibly supportive and put-upon) straight mates to go there with me every weekend. I went there looking for new, exciting, gay people to match my new, exciting, gay life.

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And, yeah, I met gay people. Girls I had clumsy flings with. Guys I’d do shots with until kicking out time rolled around. I suppose I felt like I was on the way to getting what I’d craved so much as a teenager. I definitely felt cool when I walked into Betty’s on a Friday night and saw half a dozen people I recognised already propping up the bar. I might’ve even felt cool when I was drinking myself into oblivion weekend after weekend, waking up with zero memories of the night before, a questionable one-night stand, or both. Sure, turning up to my Saturday shift at Iceland still pissed, reeking of vodka and looking like something scraped off the bottom of a shoe wasn’t exactly living that L Word dream, but I was getting there, wasn’t I?

I guess I’m a cliché for falling so hard into that nightlife hole. I’m not beating myself up – being out and going out was a heady freedom after being closeted for so long. It took me a while to climb out of that hole again, though. When I finally did resurface – after a few deathly hangovers too many, a near-miss, and a ride home in a police car – I found I didn’t actually have that many friends left. My desperate search for a group of gay friends had alienated most of my straight friends. While I’d been sinking into gay nightlife, they’d been getting their shit together and becoming proper adults. And the friends I’d made whilst out drinking? In reality most of them didn’t impact my life at all unless I was out with them. My drunken, ‘romantic’ encounters with girls I met at Betty’s just made it increasingly awkward for me to be there.

The L Word was a sham. I was disillusioned with its promises. Either that, or I was a weirdo unable to form the gay-lady friendships so intrinsic to everyone else’s best lesbian lives.

… so I wallowed.

People say that, with love, we find it when we stop desperately searching for it. The same goes for friendships. It took me a bit of growing up, and a lot of getting comfortable in my own skin, before finding the relationships I’d pined for in my teenage years. I stopped drinking myself into a black-hole every weekend. I made grovelling apologies to my remaining friends, vowing never to take them for granted again. In high school I’d wished for another group of friends so I wouldn’t have to wear my straight-girl facade. Years later I realised the only person forcing myself to pretend was me.

Check out Louise Clare Dalton’s Performance of her poem, What They Told You

I’m now out in every aspect of my life. In my career (which has moved on from its inauspicious supermarket beginnings); with my family; with my friends. I still like a night out and a tequila or two, but now have interests beyond this. A year ago I started roller derby (which is probably, incidentally, the gayest sport in existence, but that’s another post, for another time), through which I’ve met some brilliant people. Through my partner, I’ve gotten involved with the local LGBTQ+  Women’s group. Even the knowledge that the group existed would have overwhelmed my gay little 13-year-old self with excitement.

The L Word made me strive for a cliquey lesbian friendship group. Growing up (sort of) has taught me that mates are mates, gay or straight, and that being an unbearable arsehole will leave you alone very quickly. It’s great to have your fellow lady-loving-ladies around you for a night out at Betty’s. But, sometimes, nothing beats getting wine drunk with your straight mate while you whinge about girls, she moans about guys, and neither of you envies the other one bit.

Kirsten is 28, gay, enjoys watching nerdy sci-fi films, embarrassing herself at open-mic nights, and strapping wheels to her feet and hitting people. Apparently, she also likes oversharing with people on the internet too.

Read all of Kirsten’s Confessions of a Lesbian Cliche posts

Read more blogs by incredible LGBTQ+ Women


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