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Jessica Runck, Published September 12 2013

Homegrown Hollywood: Coming to terms with living together

Last week, I moved in with my boyfriend.

If you are picking up the phone to call my grandmother, you can hang up. I’ve already told her, and she promptly proposed a double wedding with my cousin and his fiancé.

I’ve never lived with a boyfriend before; in fact, I hadn’t planned on living with someone I loved until I married them. It had nothing to do with my religious views or any moral compass issues, but came down to one simple thing.

That’s not how I was raised.

Growing up on the farm, everyone around me got married before moving in. Like getting the day off from school for the opening of Deer Hunting Season, it’s just what you did.

And now, even though I’m 29 and Los Angeles is a long way from North Dakota, my heart had to really consider. This was an even bigger decision than when I chose to get serious with a man who didn’t know what lefse was.

When I started to think about it (and put aside the obvious fact that I was madly in love) there was another truth that was much harder to admit.

Los Angeles can be lonely.

After a particularly bad audition, a rejection letter or even just bad traffic, it can start to feel like it’s me against the city. I come home to an empty apartment and there are times when watching Netflix in bed feels a little empty.

My grandfather knew a little about this, too.

Before meeting my grandma, he had been a bachelor for 42 years and knew what it meant to be lonely. He knew that finding and fostering love took time and care.

Before he died, he was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find love in Los Angeles among the “crazy hippie Democrats.” Every time we spoke he would ask the same question.

“How’s the love life?”

And when I thought about answering that question now, I realized maybe taking this step was exactly how I was raised. I was taught to move toward happiness, and that when you are lucky enough to find love, you wrap your arms around it and try not to let it slip away.

So I packed my boxes, painted my walls and said goodbye to my sweet little apartment.

And so far, it’s been great.

Sure, all of his furniture is dark and heavy and looks like it washed up on a beach after being at sea for a hundred years, and my furniture looks like a little old-lady named Loretta used it to cross-stitch doilies for her multiple grandchildren.

But we’re working on it.

Now if I’m having a particularly intense bout of writer’s block or a more-hurtful-than-normal audition, I don’t come home to an empty house. I come home to a man sitting in a dark, heavy chair who loves me.

And yes, even though living with a man before I’m married might have made my grandpa shake his head, he also would have shaken my boyfriend’s hand.

Because he would have known that finally, my love life is pretty great.

Jessica Runck, who grew up in Wimbledon, N.D., and graduated from Concordia College, is a writer and actor living in Los Angeles. Visit www.jessicarunck.com for more information.