The problems began almost immediately. I would move into the house in June of that year, and Vali moved in a few days before the month of April. We were to rent a house for our growing little family of adopted queers.
I’d announced to my job/landlord/family that I was intending to move to the north for love. They’d all seemed skeptical– perhaps hoping I would be making a mistake. I was certain I wasn’t. I’m still certain I hadn’t, for the record.
One aspect I really loved about this house was the attic. It was finished, carpeted, and you could even see the city skyline from it. There were even parsed out spaces where a lovely reading nook could be fashioned. “That’ll be a great common area!” I typed into our group chat.
Arkady and Rowan had already claimed the master bedroom as their own. Logically, as I was relocating with two rats and two birds intended for my private space, I was to have the second biggest bedroom. Vali was to have the smallest room, as he wasn’t moving with many belongings. This was discussed, agreed upon. All good.
Much to my surprise, only a couple of days after Vali had moved in, he had posted a selfie and caption on Facebook about being proud of his progress… of moving his stuff into the attic.
I had two negative reactions to this. The first wasn’t rational, but it was somewhat typical when you consider my precarious first steps into realness; they don’t think about me outside of the computer screen, maybe I don’t exist to them, maybe they see me as imaginary, am I just kidding myself by pretending I exist–
The second was a little more grounded: This was a group decision I was blatantly left out of? That’s really inconsiderate. Why is someone in the house getting the entire top floor, a common area, without so much as a discussion and I’m finding out about it through the Facebook timeline? What the Fuck, mates?
I asked Rowan about Vali moving into the attic. Surely I was mistaken? Their reply was simple. The smallest room was too small for him, he decided, and the attic was bigger. So, the entire top floor of the house would be Vali’s bedroom. Rowan asked if I had a problem with it. I, amidst an intense existential crisis, told them yes, but emphasized to them I needed to gather myself before accurately communicating what the problem exactly was.
I remember I’d found this out while I was at work, sitting at that little intimate lobby inside that historical inn. Hotel work was always something that distracted me enough to soothe me, so I was calming down, trying to figure out how to word my complaint.
I happened to look on my timeline.
I didn’t take a screenshot, but Vali had posted something along the lines of, “Apparently, I’m ruining everything already.”
I’d struggled, as of recent, with the possibility of my having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I’m still not entirely certain if I do have it. But it’s made me self-conscious of making everything about me. So, I’d told myself that there was no way that Rowan had guessed what the issue was and, with their limited understanding, told Vali, who then vague-book guilted me.
But no. That was precisely what happened.
I found out later that my startled reaction hurt Vali’s feelings, and that I needed to apologise. Arkady and Rowan were firm on that. Vali had the entire top floor for a bedroom, it was Not up for debate. The main topic was to whether my careful contrition was adequate reparations for such a crime as… my asking to clarify.
Rowan later on did admit that they’d ‘dropped the ball.’ I told them, plainly, that I wasn’t happy that they’d gone to Vali with a reaction I was still processing, and that I had to apologise for a private reaction hurting Vali’s feelings. But enough “I feel like I’ve ruined things already” from them was enough to shut me up. I was still uneasy about their lack of communication with me, especially as my mental health had been notably precarious.
Arkady was reassuring, though. “Once you move here, you’ll have all the support you need. It’s just hard to do long-distance.”
It was fair enough. After all, Arkady had just started a new job, and they both had just moved and were adjusting to living with someone they’d known only a couple of months. But something about how they handled the attic situation– particularly how they kept citing Vali’s past trials as if it were an excuse for being inconsiderate– didn’t sit right with me.
To add grievous insult to injury, Vali decided that the room he had chosen– the topmost floor with the most windows– was too bright for him. So, this up-and-coming Michelangelo did this:
That’s red construction paper. Glued. Onto the window panes. On every single window.
Vali’s reasoning was that he did it to look like “stained glass.” You can see the resulting artistry, clearly in the style of ‘abandoned preschool window.’ Clearly, Notre Dame had better give up and go home, this masterpiece was clearly worth it.
On a serious note, I’d worried about Rowan and Arkady over this exchange. It wasn’t like Rowan, as far as I’d known, to pass on partial information. (Ah, the good old days…) And it also wasn’t like Arkady to also endorse this as reasonable. I should’ve at least gotten in on the discussion.
During this time, Arkady and Rowan were both contacting me less. Quite uncharacteristic of them both to forget when they were supposed to video call me. Sometimes, they’d go days without contacting me and seem not to notice. As someone who was already antsy about the entire arrangement, who was openly traumatized and damaged, it wasn’t ideal.
In one instance now known as the Turcott’s Incident, all three of them went out drinking at a local bar of that name. Arkady went home early to video chat me, a more-than-welcome surprise. But he was cut off and had to go for the night. Why?
Because Vali had gotten smashed, fallen on his face, had to be carried up the stairs by Arkady to the bathroom, where Arkady had to do everything from getting him a bucket and clean Vali after he’d used the toilet. It was basically like looking after a toddler. It was no wonder Rowan and Arkady couldn’t chat with me as often– they were babysitting.
I didn’t know a lot of this at the time, but I did know I had less room to talk than usual on my end. Criminal overworking was exacerbating an already troubling reliance on alcohol in me. I was also struggling with a little-known condition called Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, in which my hormones sent me in a catastrophizing and suicidal spiral about once a month.
I was also experiencing some of my first instances of losing time. Once, I got lost on my home from a bar only ten minutes away from me. I’d only been four drinks in that night, less than my average, but I got entirely lost and didn’t recognise my surroundings when I finally came to. That had never happened before, regardless of how much I’ve drank.
Apparently, I’d worried Rowan and Arkady with that. It was assumed by them it was the alcohol, as there was no doubt I’d been overindulging lately. Another night, I’d only been partially buzzed, lost time, and somehow ended up in a fountain with a Powerade bottle full of cheap champagne. (Which the fuck alter was THAT? Fess up, I won’t be mad.)
The worst instance of this was the time I found myself on the inn’s roof. I had to call Rowan and keep myself grounded as I clumsily climbed down.
Poor Arkady was caught in between my increasingly unstable resemblance to a Lana del Raye song and Vali being a part-time toddler, part-time psycho-analyst.
Psycho-analyst, you say?
Well, you see, Vali had a “psychology degree.” At least, that’s what he told everyone when he advised Spectre to break up with their partner, and ‘counseled’ the problems between Rowan and Arkady. There was actually a drinking game based around how often he’d mention “psychology degree.” When asked to prove the existence of said degree, it’s harder to find than Donald Trump’s tax returns. But he was apparently more than happy to open Rowan’s eyes about their long-term relationship with Arkady.
Anyway, while Vali was giving his “educated” advice, Arkady found, to his horror, that Rowan was pulling further away from him. “Vali is really putting our relationship in perspective.” Rowan had ominously told Arkady. Another time, they’d told him, “I feel like I’m more of a caretaker to you than a partner.”
Which apparently triggered the fuck out of Arkady, justifiably. He’d definitely had his phases, but the past couple of years for him had been his most stable by far. It was obvious to me that even before Vali intervening, Rowan resented having to tolerate who Arkady used to be. And hearing this after his progress was made– it must have been literally maddening, because he was rarely the same after that. Of course, I was beginning to have issues with Rowan on this account.
I was struggling quite a bit on my own, essentially climbing out of high-functioning alcoholism with their increasingly scarce support. But! Relief was on the way, as Rowan and Arkady were coming in May for a long-planned vacation with me in Savannah. I’d been ridiculously isolated, and the lack of contact wasn’t helping.
It was to be Rowan’s birthday celebration, as well as my last hurrah in my beloved city of Savannah. The three of us were going to have a blast– and Vali took it about as well as you’d think.