Lawrence asked Bernie to move in with him. He explained that he thought his apartment was the better choice only because she had roommates and he was sure Tallulah and Priscilla wouldn’t want to live with him. For the most part, Bernie assumed that was true. She also figured it had a lot to do with the fact that his apartment was significantly nicer than hers, no matter how many compliments he paid her on the paint colour she’d chosen for her bedroom. In any case, she thought it was lovely of him to try to disguise the real reason he had suggested his own apartment as their mutual home moving forward.
Bernie was conflicted. On the one hand, they hadn’t been dating for very long and it seemed awfully soon. On the other hand, they’d known each other their whole lives so it felt more reasonable for them to move in together after only six months. But then she thought about what it meant for their future. Essentially, moving in with Lawrence would be as good as accepting the fact that they would get married, have children, and be together forever. While that was what she ultimately wanted, she was having trouble adjusting to it happening so soon. And to top it all off, she didn’t want to move. She didn’t want to stop living with Priscilla and Tallulah. She would miss Jemima coming over all the time. Lawrence of course said that they were welcome all the time, and he meant it, but Bernie knew it wouldn’t be the same.
“I don’t want to live with a boy!” Bernie whined one night over dinner at home with Priscilla, Tallulah, and Jemima. “What if he’s smelly or unclean or has a nose whistle?”
“He’s Lawrence,” was Jemima’s response. “He can’t be any of those things. He’s literally perfect.”
Honestly, Bernie knew she was right. She had spent quite a lot of time at Lawrence’s place by this point and, unless he spent the moments before she arrived fervently cleaning, he was a very clean man. It didn’t bode well for their cohabitation actually, given that Bernie frequently left piles of clothes on top of her laundry hamper. It drove Priscilla crazy and they didn’t even share a room.
“And you’d have noticed if he had a nose whistle by this point,” Tallulah interjected. “Trust me.”
Tallulah had a weird thing about noises. The sound of someone chewing could set her on edge for literal hours. She claimed the entire reason she had moved out of her parents’ house was due to the way her father slurped his tea. There was a guy in one of her university classes who used to breathe like he was asleep. Tallulah used to complain about him to her sister all the time, and at great length, to the point that Priscilla had been slightly concerned her sister would try to cause him physical harm. It was intense.
“I know what happens when you move in with boys,” Bernie said determinedly. Priscilla gave her a shrewd look.
“You become an unmarriable trollop, doomed to a sad life of town ridicule and mockery?” She returned. “You have to stitch a scarlet letter onto all of your tops? Your only chance at salvation is joining a nunnery?”
“I’m being serious!” Bernie huffed.
“Oh,” Priscilla nodded slowly in understanding. “Yeah, I wasn’t.”
Bernie smacked her in the arm.
“You get cut out!” She cried. “One minute you’re everybody’s best friend. No one would ever forget about you. People are always like, ‘we can’t have a party without Bernie! She’s more fun than all of us combined!’”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say that,” Tallulah interrupted.
“And then the next minute, you’ve moved in with your boyfriend and people stop asking you to hang out. Then people are all like, ‘Bernie who? I don’t remember him. Is he someone’s dad?’”
“That does seem more likely,” Tallulah interjected again, if possible being even more unhelpful.
“That is not going to happen,” Jemima said, being both firm and comforting at once. She patted Bernie’s shoulder consolingly. Bernie was not consoled.
“Yes it is,” she protested. “I know it is because it’s the same thing that happened to Melly when she got married to David.”
“We stopped inviting Melly to things because she was boring and only ever wanted to play charades,” Priscilla retorted dismissively. “I fucking hate charades.”
“Well, it’s the same thing that happened to Alison too,” Bernie added, crossing her arms indignantly.
“Who’s Alison?” Tallulah asked, looking around the table.
“Exactly my point!” Bernie exclaimed, feeling both triumphant and depressed.
“You remember Alison,” Priscilla told Tallulah. “She used to be Bernie’s roommate before she moved in with us.”
“Yeah, and then she moved in with her boyfriend and now we never see her anymore,” Bernie concluded. “Which is exactly what’s going to happen to me if I move in with Lawrence.”
“Are we sure her boyfriend isn’t, like, keeping her captive or something?” Tallulah asked the table as a whole. Priscilla rolled her eyes.
“She’s fine. They got married last year.”
“None of us were invited to the wedding because she moved out and then we weren’t friends anymore,” Bernie cut in, pressing the issue.
“I hate to be the one to break this to you, but we never see Alison anymore because she never actually liked any of us,” Priscilla told Bernie.
“What?” Bernie asked after a long moment.
“Her boyfriend got drunk at their housewarming party and told me she was pleased that she no longer had to see any of us on a regular basis,” Priscilla clarified. “So it had nothing to do with her moving out and everything to do with her being an asshole.”
Jemima nodded supportively.
“Oh,” Bernie said, slightly crestfallen.
“Move in with Lawrence,” Priscilla said. “You’ll be fine. Dumbass.”
Bernie moved in with Lawrence at the end of the month. He owned a one-bedroom condo on the edge of downtown. It was the nicest place Bernie had ever lived, aside from her family home in the suburbs. Lawrence’s condo was loft-styled, with high ceilings, an exposed brick wall, and gigantic windows. The building had been made recently so everything still gleamed with newness. At least she assumed that was due to the relative newness. It could’ve also just been because of Lawrence himself. Only his stovetop could shine bright like his eyes.
As predicted, Lawrence kept the place tidy all the time, not only just before she came over. Everything had a place, right down to the yogurt he kept on the third shelf of the fridge. Bernie was in awe. When she had lived with Priscilla and Tallulah, they’d kept their yogurt wherever. Sometimes all they had had in their fridge was several types of jam, gifted by Mrs. Cherry, half a container of margarine, and copious amounts of alcohol. She and Lawrence always had food in the fridge. By the end of the week, if she wanted to eat a piece of fruit, that was still an option. It was astounding.
She was still concerned about being left out or forgotten by her friends. She wasn’t used to not seeing them every single day. Of course, she saw Priscilla at work, but it wasn’t the same. At work, she couldn’t talk about how much she hated always having to put her underwear in a drawer. So she forced her friends to come over to her new place to watch The Wedding Planner. Lawrence, who said he’d never seen the movie before, also said he would love to stay and watch as well, graciously accepting the invitation Bernie hadn’t thought he’d take.
“He’s willingly watching a Jennifer Lopez movie?” Sybil asked as she settled on the living room couch next to Jemima. “Marry this dude.”
Lawrence beamed at Sybil because he was unaware that, while complimenting him, she was mostly ridiculing Bernie’s love of Jennifer Lopez, specifically her acting career. Bernie glared at Sybil before sitting down on the other side of Jemima. Lawrence squeezed into the space between her and the arm of the couch. Priscilla took the armchair next to the couch and Tallulah sat on the floor with her back against Priscilla’s legs. Every once in a while she would tilt her chin up so that Priscilla could feed her gummy worms.
Halfway through the movie, Lawrence had begun grumbling just as much as the rest of her friends. He hadn’t seen The Wedding Planner before. It was unlikely he’d ever watch it again.
“I just can’t get behind Matthew McConaughey’s glasses in this movie,” Jemima remarked.
“His glasses?” Lawrence repeated dubiously. “I can’t get behind his entire character in this movie. This guy’s a jerk. Who is he to treat her like this? He has a fiancee and she’s Jennifer Lopez!”
All of her friends laughed at his remark. Tallulah held her hand out to him for a high five. And Bernie knew in that moment that she was going to spend the rest of her life with Lawrence and that it was going to be okay. She could be Bernie Wu. In fact, she wanted very much to be Bernie Wu. Jemima would be delighted.