Hello, Rochester. (June of 2019)

Arkady and I both, as previously touched upon by the blogs, felt this deep spiritual connection. We both had expressed that it seemed like we’d always been together somehow, throughout eons of history, orbiting an inextricable pull we both felt towards each other. It only made sense that the universe made us together, as an eternally dancing, binary star system, and that everything felt right when we were together again.

I actually do think there may be something to be belief of past-lives. It’s what we’d thought it was, and I still think that it’s possible. But, giving science its say, we’re both part of two DID systems that are heavily fantasy-based, exceedingly depersonified, and seemingly run to validate the “specialness” of whoever has influence over it. So, while we were disclosing to one another what we’d experienced, exactly how, and some of the experiences that have shaped us– yeah, that probably drove our already strong compatibility into hyperdrive.

But still– feeling like I could belong, have someone who would understand and not flinch away, someone who I wouldn’t have to hide from, someone who could share my life with me, someone who would feel like home to me. That was worth everything. Especially as I’d never thought I could have that life.

And now that I know my integration with Story failed so grievously, I definitely never will.

But back then, I was still capable.

The first time I had ever seen Rochester was a whirlwind of a weekend, where I was Arkady’s birthday present. He had come down to Savannah two weeks previous for my birthday, and on November 16th, 2018, I’d boarded a plane to Rochester without him knowing it. Rowan and I had planned it– we’d always loved teaming up to make him happy, the way that Kaspar’s partners and I do for them.

I’d told him, before he left Savannah, that I would spend his birthday with him if I could. I always did love the wording of that, because I was able to say it to him with a boarding pass already purchased for him.

I was his birthday surprise.

I didn’t get to see a lot of Rochester, a city I already knew I was planning on moving to eventually. But I did get to see Arkady’s face light up in pure rapture when he saw me. We rushed to meet in the middle, where we clung to each other and laughed in happiness, like two kids who’d gotten a puppy in a Christmas present.

“I can’t believe you’re really here.” I loved the way he said it. In wonder, as if he had pictured me standing in his apartment so many times, but scarcely thought he’d ever see it.

I felt like I could die and that tone could just revive me from a post-mortem state.

The year after was when I arrived to become a resident of Rochester, New York, it was a beautiful June day. The sun was shining, the flowers were in full bloom, there was a cool breeze wafting through the seemingly impossibly huge house.

I did briefly see the attic. Unfortunately, it smelled precisely like Vali himself. Plus, I couldn’t get it out of my head how many times he’d called it his ‘sex dungeon’ on the way up and the light filtering in from the red construction paper was liable to give me depression.

As excited as I was to start my life sleeping in Arkady’s arms– and the fact that I hadn’t slept in 50 hours– I couldn’t sleep. Not when Arkady was there, in all of his ridiculously beautiful glory. In the flesh, huggable, kissable. Even better, I could protect him from whatever bullshit Rowan and Vali were on.

Plus, I couldn’t sleep when I was hungry.

He was more than happy to fix me something. I’ve lived like a bachelorex for years, so it was a point of pride for Arkady to be able to cook me real food. It had dairy, so he insisted my lactose intolerant ass take an allergy pill.

In my delirium, I happily threw away the tablet and stood there with the empty wrapper as he stared at me in startled bafflement.

I fell into a fit of giggles as he fell into his exasperated pose– the tips of both hands joined in a point to his septum as he made a show of processing the absurdity of me. “I married that,” he said to himself finally, reducing me to cackling. Yes, you married this, you adorable fool. Now you’ll spend the rest of your life witnessing my bullshit and sighing at my puns. “I think I’m finally starting to understand [your father.]”

The first night was actually quite pleasant.

Our household. Up front is Vali, left is Rowan, top right is Arkady.

Rowan made the whole household alcoholic punch. Arkady made us all dinner– some sort of light chicken and barley meal. Vali must’ve either kept quiet or was actually tolerable that night, because I barely remember him being there. I was just so excited to be living with my partner and best friend– and through them, also two other partners and two parents, who they could supposedly channel.

A couple of things that irritated me upon my arrival; they’d completely neglected to get me my own key to the house, forcing me to rely on their schedule as so as I would not be locked out. Another thing– Rowan owned both of the air conditioning units and, in an executive decision, put one in theirs and Arkady’s room and one in Vali’s. Because I was the only one not dating Rowan, cooling my room was not a priority.

“You could always buy your own!” Rowan invited me, apparently suffering chronic amnesia to the fact that I was still unemployed.

But I was quickly cheered up. Arkady and I had a couple of dates in which he showed me around the city. I was fascinated with Rochester. I still am. We were situated on Pinnacle Hill, which was a pocket of woods with trees so thick that you could forget that you were in a city. Then when I turned the corner, from Field to Monroe, the Rochester skyline would bloom into view.

That was something I had been anxious about, upon moving to Rochester. Savannah, if you’ve ever seen it on a map, is about three square miles of alternating bars, restaurants, museums, and cafes. I could walk to the grocery store in 15 minutes and stop for a cocktail on the way.

That’s seven years of my life contained in this one picture.

Rochester was quite a bit more sprawled out. Its downtown area was comparatively desolate when I had been so used to Savannah’s Historic District– which was odd to me, since there was literally an entire fucking waterfall in the centre of town. A twenty minute walk in Savannah was worth about a fifty minute walk in Rochester, which was not a fact I loved, but it was doable.

I’d specified, before I moved, that I needed to live somewhere within walking distance of the city. I needed that independence– the ability to get myself to work, to grab a bottle of wine, to walk to get a bite to eat. And I sure as hell wasn’t driving. I trusted Arkady and Rowan, more deeply than I’d trusted nearly anyone else before. But if I had to rely on them to drive me to work– to get me from place to place, to get me food, to delegate my social life and my freedom– I would fucking lose it. Luckily, Rowan seemed to tolerate living at least this close to the city, since we were so close to the woods.

Arkady showed me Highland Park and Magnolia cafe.

And I looked as elegant as usual.

Another week passed and he showed me to High Falls and the Spirit Room.

I remember that we were at the Spirit Room, finishing up our drinks. Both of us had received a text from Rowan, saying that they were having a panic attack.

We exchanged looks. Of course, that was the longest we’d left Rowan and Vali alone unsupervised for so long. We raced back in a weirdly short time. Granted, we’d ridden on the bus for a few blocks, but we somehow made it back within about 25 minutes.

“You definitely manipulated time to get us back,” Arkady had told me, clapping me on my shoulder. “Thank you.” I was pleased with myself. It was only since dating him that I even considered my superhuman abilities could be applied outside of ‘the other plane’ (My inworld). According to him, not only could I do it, but I wasn’t bad at it.

Ana Mardoll on Twitter: "81. Praise Kink https://t.co/sHLFVMIkg2… "
I don’t HAVE to say that this pic is related…

As it turned out, the source of the panic attack was entirely fantasy-based. Rowan, who had been steadily popping out a litter of fast-ageing interdimensional children in Faerie, (including two of my own, now introjects), announced that their Fae form was pregnant with Vali’s child. There was a miscommunication as to Rowan’s reaction to it, then Vali over-reacted, hence the panic attack.

It wasn’t the first time I’d come across this absurd situation. In fact, something similar had happened between Rowan and Arkady weeks before. Polycule drama becomes multi-layered when fantasy-based systems are involved.

That’s what interrupted our date.

I was so sick of Vali already. Rowan, of course, was the centre of both of these situations, but I apparently thought them too charming or powerless to be the culprit. Vali reminded me too much of Kirra and was therefore easier to hate.

Another issue I had with my new living situation– Rowan was the only one with a car, which was essential for making household maintenance less of a pain. You know, the stuff like laundry, which could be done for free at their parents’ house, grocery runs, and, you know, getting their fourth housemate a fucking copy of the key.

Within perhaps my first week there, I’d heard Arkady asking about when the next laundry run. His tone was entirely neutral, a sort of tactical curiosity, which made the response a bit of a shock. “[Arkady], you are more than capable of going to a laundry mat and doing the laundry yourself.” It was a snapping tone that was clearly responding to a conversation Arkady hadn’t been apart of.

I timidly went downstairs to see if my partner needed assistance or defense, whichever would apply. Arkady was already fuming, gathering up the laundry in a bitter whirl. The nearest laundromat was about a twenty minute walk, us each carrying a large basket of dirty clothes. “I do stuff around the house all the time. Vali cleans the house like once a month and posts a million selfies about it. And he still doesn’t follow my organization system for the pots and pans. And I couldn’t do the dishes for all that time because I’d cut my hand, and I’m pretty sure Vali made that happen.” He was fuming most of the way to the laundromat. “Like sure, I don’t do everything for Rowan If they want me to be subservient like Vali is, that ain’t happening. I’m their partner, I’m not their servant!”

He did eventually calm down as we folded clothes together. We discussed what sort of hold Vali seemed to have on Rowan. Arkady was suggesting that Vali had been cursing him– which was why he was having clumsy accidents (like cutting his hand) and had that odd fainting spell back in May. I knew that if this all wasn’t magic, how Rowan was reacting lately could be explained to the mind-breaking terror of nearly having witnessed a suicide via phone– and that’s just what we’ve known about. But if he was affected by something like what Romeo had been, if it was overtaking his actual personality– there may have been hope for that revolting nonce yet.

Later in the week, Arkady endeavored to introduce me to Vertex. I’d been putting in applications everywhere and trying to dress for comfort and the weather all week. It felt nice to look glamourous again. We’d had a clothing donation from Rowan’s gardening client earlier in the day and Vali had found a wrestling leotard. It looked ridiculous on him and he delighted in knowing it. “Look at this hot mess goblin look!” I’m not saying that to be critical; it was one of the few things we could all laugh at as a household. His orange hair was even sticking straight up as he pranced around in the odd outfit.

“That look reminds me of those troll dolls!” I pointed out, laughing.

I’m not sure whether I noticed his mood dropping. I did notice that he challenged me to wrestle right after, which just startled and confused me more than anything. As Arkady and I continued to get ready, Rowan texted me from the other room. “I think the teasing went too far.”

I’d apparently left my filter in my other trousers that day. “You mean the escalation between goblin and troll?”

I can’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure I was left on Read for that one.

Vali’s wound to his ego soured the mood so much within the household that, upon seeing the finished product of Arkady’s aesthetic and exclaiming that he was utterly beautiful, he anxiously shushed me.

We then had the following conversation on my phone notes:

Gods, I definitely needed a drink after that. I’d had enough of feeling like I was being constantly monitored with my friends during the Kirra debacle. If I wasn’t able to spout the plain fact of my lover’s haunting beauty in my own home, I was liable to start tugging at the leash.

Arkady and I had a wonderful time at Vertex, though. I was elated by how the suburban homes of Rochester slowly grew to urbanity as we walked. Then the goth bar was actually a goth bar. It played goth music! And people there were also dressed goth! Cocktails were a solid $3 each and, fueled by the romanticism of the night and my fury from earlier, I was riding some sort of manic high I couldn’t even explain.

Arkady seemed swept up in it as well. “Our magic is stronger together,” he yelled in my ear, squeezing my arm. “And Vali’s about to find out just how strong.”

I don’t know how this plan made it into our drunken minds, but we decided we would essentially try to dance Vali’s influence away. It was cooler than it sounds, I promise you. It’s an essential part of a lot of Arkady’s scrying to see symbolism everywhere. And gods, if I could show how he practically floated across that wooden dance floor in the flashing lights and smokescreen of the club, you’ll understand why I believed in magic. As we danced together, the screen behind us flashed a multitude of patterns and colours, some of which strongly resembled Vali’s symbols of eyes and tentacles.

We were drunk on booze and intoxicated on having been reunited just in time as things got desperate. Arkady would stop me occasionally and gesture excitedly to the screen, just as those eyes and feverish warm colours faded to an eloquent gold and blue, or his silver and green. “It’s working!” he’d tell me.

And six cocktails in, watching in wonder as the blue, streaming lights moved through the synthetic smoke and ethereal dance music played in the distance, I felt that it was.

Seeing the joy on my face kind of makes my heart ache, not gonna lie.

The next week, the four of us went to the public market. Arkady had been looking to re-propose to Rowan, since his original proposal was lacking and apparently expired in Ash’s eyes. He, that day, had spied a beautiful Ethiopian opal ring and made plans to propose at the George Eastman museum. I decided to use my limited funds to help pay for the ring and the both of their tours of said museum.

He repaid within the next few days. I loved this sweet moment between the two of them and hyped it accordingly– compersion, of course, being one of my favourite attributes of polyamory. Vali, predictably, had the opposite reaction.

When the most established couple of the house came home, I’d already seen the Facebook posts about the proposal and fawned over them with congratulations and exclamations of adoration. Vali reacted, predictably, less than ideally.

“Rowan, could I talk to you for a second?”

Arkady and I stood in the dining room, listening to Rowan’s and Vali’s tense whispering in the kitchen. Bitter protectiveness was spiking off of him in waves and I was just exasperated. After about ten or so minutes, Vali came to Arkady and explained, “I’m sorry, I’m not mad about you proposing, I’m really not. I just had plans to propose to Rowan in two weeks and this makes it kind of awkward that you did it just now.”


But the best was yet to come. According to Arkady, Vali averaged about one blow-up a month. And at the three-week mark, it was time to make some popcorn.