Dear Nester: It is refreshing to hear that this (somewhat unconventional) living arrangement is working out so well for both of you. As a rent-paying housemate, you have the right to essentially take over half the kitchen, but because you are a considerate and respectful person, you are handling this carefully.
Now that you have settled in and have lived in the house for a while, you will have to muster up the courage to approach your housemate about the kitchen. Say, “I hope this isn’t too awkward, but would you mind if I more or less attacked the kitchen and did a deep-clean? I’ve been watching a lot of videos on how to do this, and I’d like to give it a try.”
Let’s assume that he will agree to this. After you get started with the cleaning, ask him, “How attached are you to some of these spices and smaller things? I’m seeing duplicates and a lot of stuff that is expired.”
Basically, I’m suggesting that you take on this job in stages. Just as the accumulation happened over time, once he has the experience of navigating in a cleaner, tidier space, he might encourage you to do more.
One of my daughters transformed our kitchen during the pandemic, and while there was a minor adjustment period (where are those coffee cups?), overall, the result has been wonderful and welcome.
Dear Amy: This is going to sound strange, but ever since the pandemic hit, I’ve been having very strange dreams — at least twice a week. Some of these dreams are obviously anxiety dreams, but in others, it is as if I am revisiting relationships I’ve had throughout my life (going all the way back to childhood). These dreams feature vivid shapes and colors, but nothing much seems to happen.