Living With Strangers, And The End of The Year

Many people far more privileged than myself are afforded the luxury of having what I can only imagine is the best ideal living situation: Living with people they actually know. You know what to expect, you know how they typically act and behave, it’s usually easier to bring up any issues you have without damaging your friendship, and there’s no awkwardness.

That situation, for the past four years, cannot be said for me, as I’ve had to live with strangers due to various, unfortunate situations.

My roommate freshman year was awesome. He was a great guy to get along with, and even after moving two doors down, we were still friends up until the end of the semester.

My three roommates my sophomore year were pretty great. One of them had the “Mr. Mom” complex (trying to act like our parent), but they were fine people to live with. Two of them planned on living together the next year and I was lucky enough to be involved in their plan, which included renewing my lease in November and not telling our other roommate the three of us were living together in case he decided to renew his lease. Come June, the office realized I had initialed my lease instead of signing it, and he, along with someone else, had signed their leases, meaning I was kicked out.

Last year, the three roommates I had were about as polar opposite as you could get. One of them wasn’t a college student. He graduated high school and since then, spends most of his time either working or sitting in the living room watching sports. This wasn’t the case early on; without any job, he decided to use the money that we gave him for the energy bill to buy food and beer, and later decided that because he didn’t like the other two guys (and potentially me as well), he decided not to pay the energy bill. The roommate I shared a bathroom with found out about this, and moved out. The day I came back, I found out all the stuff in the bathroom that was his was gone, so I had to take an unexpected trip to Target to buy some new stuff. The following day, the power got turned off. That night was enormously cold too, but I lived, and I had a bathroom to myself for 7 months.

But one of the people I live with now has been nothing short of hell to deal with. He has used my shampoo a couple times to the point where I’ve had to hide it; he recently told me he used it two nights ago because it smelled good, and said “you should probably lock that in your room.” He’s also, to my convenience, not a college student, so as he often doesn’t have to wake up early for classes or anything like that, much of his nights involve going to parties with his friends, getting drunk, and coming back to the apartment, and he has made no effort to be quiet. He’s also smoked in the apartment a couple times, and as I signed up to live in a non-smoking apartment, I’m not particularly fond of that. But far more concerning is the fact that he’s physically attacked one of my roommates twice, one of which he doesn’t remember happening because he was drunk. Two Fridays ago at the wonderful hour of 6:30am, he decided to pick a fight with his friend who was sleeping here, resulting in a broken chair from their wrestling match and me having to skip my 9am because I didn’t feel well enough to go because I didn’t get enough sleep because of him.

Thankfully for me and my other roommates, the office sent him a 30-day notice on the 7th to get his stuff, turn in his keys, and leave, or else they will take the case to court and a sheriff will drop by to physically evict him.

The wrinkle in the plot here is that he will be homeless. I may not be his biggest fan, but like anyone with a soul, I feel bad that he’ll be out on the streets (unless he finds a new apartment to live at), especially at this time of the year.

I broke the news to him the other day that he was getting kicked out in three or so weeks. He claims he never got the notice and they legally have to give him the notice and 30 days from then to move out (which of course he’ll use all 30 days), but my other roommate said he saw the notice the other night, so who knows. I suggested to him to talk to his friends, maybe live with one of them for a while, or look into one of the homeless shelters downtown, the latter suggestion he didn’t take kindly to, and replied with “Well you try sleeping in a homeless shelter and tell me how it feels.”

Sorry for the suggestion? Yikes.

As awkward as it was, he’s at least aware his days are numbered. While I feel bad for him being out on the street in a matter of weeks, I do NOT feel bad for the situation that’s resulted in that happening. He had multiple chances to be a better roommate, and a better person. After he came back from jail after the second assault, moments before I took the police report down to the office, he said “Please don’t do that! I got nowhere else to go! I won’t cause any more trouble. It’s like baseball, three strikes you’re out.” Though at that point he already had three strikes with the two fights and this girl he had over that he was being super loud with at 4am. And a week after saying this, the third fight happened.

Honestly, I’m tired of dealing with it. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you should never settle. You should never tolerate living with someone, or being with someone, or anything along those lines. He put himself in this situation, and having to be afraid of making my roommate mad when he’s drunk and living in fear of me being assaulted next is not something I want to live with.

I truly wish switching apartments was an easy option, and believe me, if it was I would’ve moved out AGES ago. But sadly it comes with a $200 price tag, so the cheaper option is to stay here and endure it. But I’m thankful that there’s at least a ray of light coming.

This is perhaps one of the most morally difficult things I’ve been faced with. Can you really put up with someone getting drunk and attacking people if it means they don’t have to sleep on the street, or do you bring these issues to the office in the hopes they get removed and you get to live in better comfort and security? It’s hard. Of course I don’t want him to suffer. But I also don’t want to live in fear of what might happen to me. It’s a dual conflict.

But before that happens, the end of the year has yet to happen. And for me, it’s been a pretty eventful one.

First on my list of accomplishments, I became a supervisor at my on-campus job. Granted because it’s only on-campus and not a Fortune 500 company, it doesn’t particularly hold a lot of weight, but aside from the benefits of a pay raise and having something nice to add to my resumé, it’s also afforded me the opportunity to be more confident, approaching people I don’t know and telling them to do things. It definitely hasn’t been without its fair share of struggles. A couple people attempted to throw me under the bus within my first few weeks of supervising. A fellow supervisor at the time was almost consistently on my case, which didn’t make things incredibly easy without having any hands-on training. Supervising your friends is much more challenging than I ever anticipated. The mistakes you make can have some pretty deep consequences, not only for you but for other people as well. But so far, it’s been a wonderfully rewarding experience.

I’ve also had some…not-so-rewarding experiences with guys. The first few months of the year were spent unsuccessfully and embarrassingly crushing on a guy I work with who ended up text-rejecting me and hasn’t given a second thought about it since, marking the frustrating realization that people can still reject you even without spending time actually getting to know you. I also have continually observed the interesting trend of people coming into my life and leaving almost as quickly, which is considerably frustrating since I can’t fully grasp a singular, universally unappealing factor to being friends with me, at least in the least conceited way possible to say that. One guy last month began talking to me online and said “You’re so sweet! How have you been single your whole life?” where he then proceeded to stop talking to me the following day. I realize I’m not always the most outgoing person in the world, or the most sociable, nor do I have my life together, but it keeps me on the seemingly endless quest to gradually improve myself and hope that the people who do come into my life actually decide to stay.

I’ve been ridiculously lucky to have met and gotten to know so many people on Twitter than I ever expected to, a number of which I’ve gone through a roller coaster of relationship levels with, in a sense. I’ve learned that crushing on someone from a distance is probably one of the biggest wastes of time in existence, and in the end they likely don’t even care about you nearly as much as you care about them. Not everyone is dying to talk to you, or follow you, or interact with you as much as they are with someone else, which may or may not be your own fault depending on the person. You should never have to settle for being friends with someone if you’re not fully content with being friends with them in the first place. And perhaps most of all, if someone leaves, you shouldn’t attempt to chase after them, but instead, let them go. It’s the circle of life: Where one door closes, another door opens, and the people who truly desire to be in your life will make an honest, sincere effort to be there, even if you can’t be the one to always make that effort yourself.

This summer, I took probably one of the biggest leaps ever and elected to spend a week with an almost-complete stranger, a fellow anon by the name of UAFabGay. True to his name, he was about as fabulous and as filled with UA spirit as you could probably ask for, and the week itself was quite wonderful (I also blogged about it here).

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I wanted to do something eventful this summer, and it happened, but I think the more remarkable thing behind it is that it had a chance of not even happening in the first place. He was among the first couple of anons I followed when I made my account last year in the spring, and was partly responsible for helping me get out of one of the most toxic friendships I’ve ever been in. Some time after this for his own reasons, he unfollowed several people, with me being among that number. The interesting thing with Twitter is that there are multiple people out there who follow others solely out of the expectation that they too will follow them back, and the moment that link is broken, they have no further interest in them anymore. When I first made my anon, it frustrated me that there were people who didn’t follow me back, but gradually I learned that by simply interacting and attempting to converse with them, they were far more likely to pay attention to me and even, in some cases, follow me back. A select few that I attempt to talk to see fit to ignore me, which is fine considering I know nobody is obligated to talk to me, but at times it’s still frustrating. More or less, I learned to not be obsessed with the number of people following me, and in doing so, I continued to talk to him and interact with him to where he gradually followed me back. I suppose the trip could’ve still happened regardless, but it might be just slightly awkward to see someone in reali life that ignores you online like on Grindr or something.

I think the moral of the story here is that you can still talk to and be friends with people even if they don’t follow you on social media or something along those lines. Your social media experience, much less your entire life experience, is what you make it, to quote the infamous Hannah Montana. You can actively choose who to follow, who to be friends with, and who to keep in your life, and those decisions, among other similar ones, should be 100% your own. If you ever follow or interact with someone in the hopes of automatically getting something out of it in return, you’re more than likely going to have a bad time. It’s a better idea to let whatever happens, happen. It’s easy for me to be frustrated by the various people on Twitter that want absolutely nothing to do with me, but it’s infinitely more rewarding to focus on the people who value my friendship instead.

This past summer also proved to be a testing ground of sorts for the minimal friendships I miraculously manage to maintain, which took center stage in the form of my social anxiety and my almost ever-present fear of being forgotten and left out. This culminated in a number of less than pleasant texts from the people involved (and understandably so), and, come late July, also featured one of the far more idiotic moves on my part of not fully owning up to my mistakes as much as I should’ve in the given situation. It was a fresh reminder of how hindered I am when it comes to social interaction, and my limited experiences with people through my high school and pre-college days have more than come back to haunt me and the decisions I both have made and, more importantly, should have made, or even should be making. The most I can chalk them up to are solid learning experiences on multiple levels, and my thankfulness that there are people that exist who realize you fuck up and still, by some miracle, choose to be friends with you. More than anything in the world, those are the people I pray I hold on to for as long as I remain alive.

I overall feel much stronger in my sense of independence, more than I have in years past. Granted, due to the tragic living arrangements I’m forced to endure, my life outside of classes and work is, on the whole, pretty dull. My roommates are likely convinced I’m beyond weird, but when you have as differing lifestyles as the four of us, me against the three of them, the last thing they want to be discussing is Ru Paul’s Drag Race over who Alabama is playing next week.

The puzzling thing about that is that I may be getting too comfortable with all the time I spend isolating myself. I say, at most, maybe 5-10 words to my roommates if any of them are in the living room when I get back from class or work or wherever before going into my room and closing the door. Occasionally I might have a brief conversation with one of them, which isn’t bad. One of them is at least kind enough to periodically invite me to various home sports games on campus, and while they aren’t my thing, it’s at least a nice thought, so I can tell he’s making some type of effort to hang out with me. The one that’s being evicted soon occasionally invited me to one of the bars close to our apartment early on in the semester. I can tell they’re trying, which is great, but we’re simply polar opposite people, and while I know they accept me being gay, I’m not quite sure how far their acceptance level stretches, say if I happened to bring someone home one night and what their reaction might be. The soon-to-be evicted one has spoken very openly about his sexual encounters with girls, occasionally in more detail than I’d prefer to hear, and I have the strong suspicion any attempt on my part to do the same (not that I would) would be grounds for murder, at the least.

Sadly, what hope I had of perhaps living with friends in the fall has been next to extinguished unless a miracle occurs. Remaining hopeful and remaining realistic are two polar opposites, and I’m working on the former as much as possible, which hasn’t been an easy road to go down. But I’ve had help, and it’s been wonderful to have, even if it hasn’t had any immediate effects.

Today in particular was an enormously emotional day. I woke up to a phone call from the property manager at my apartment complex in Kalamazoo with a peculiar question: Have I spoken to my roommates recently? To which I answered no. I truthfully expected this call to be about my pre-evicted roommate having decided to move out sooner and informing me that I need to stop by the office to get new keys. Sadly, this was not quite the case.

Evidently, they had a massive party the previous night, DJ included, and because of this, the living room floor caved in, and the apartment was declared condemned.

My first concern, being that I had no deep, personal connections to my roommates, was my belongings. I left much of my wardrobe in my closet, along with a chair, a couple shorts, my router from T-Mobile, and other miscellaneous items. She said that the only person they were going to relocate was me, largely because I wasn’t involved in basically destroying the apartment, and mentioned the fire marshall would be surveying the apartment and she would contact me with further details later. After a 15 minute crying session, I gave her another call a few hours later, where she mentioned that the contractor was working on securing the floor, after which they would gather my things and either put them in my new room at my new apartment or leave them in a vacant apartment for me to gather whenever I moved back in, which I was assured would be before the 11th when the next semester started.

The major bonus of this is that I wanted to get new roommates, and I got them. It’s not in the situation I most preferred to have, but it’s still happening.

Despite the many negatives I have faced in my life, I still get the motivation to spread happiness to others, because I believe that, with few exceptions, people deserve to be happy. For one reason or another, I usually don’t give Christmas gifts, mostly because in years past, I simply wasn’t able to afford it. This year, with my wonderful refund I received in August, I decided to change that, and added 22 people to my Christmas list. Most of these were to many of the wonderful people I’ve met from Twitter, and none of these were given with any expectation that I would receive something in return, because as corny as it may be, it feels more fantastic to give than it does to receive. The best part is that all of my recipients had no idea I bought gifts for them until Christmas morning, and all of them were immensely appreciative.

To my pleasant surprise, I did happen to receive some gifts in return. From one of the best friends I’ve made through my anon, I received a $50 Amazon gift card. Another fabulous Chicago-based anon sent me a $25 Starbucks gift card. A third, a truly amazing guy from Indiana that has been unbelievably supportive of me for the past two months, sent me a $30 Apple Music gift card, which I believe gives me six free months in addition to my three-month free trial. I didn’t expect these at all, but they were all fantastic to get.

Next year promises to be an active one. I’m slated to go to Jamaica for spring break with the same stellar guy from Indiana. I’m potentially going to Italy in May or August. I’m also visiting a truly great guy in Tennessee in June. There’s a lot to look forward to. In the background, there is, of course, my looming (what I expect to hopefully be) final year at Western, and I’m sure the incoming pressure of finding a job and getting my life together is going to hit me fast and hard. I have to be ready for that.

Suffice it to say this year has been chock-full of some of the most challenging moments of my life. I’m ending it in a different place than I started it, both physically and even mentally. I’ve slowly learned to be more confident in myself, as hopeless of a battle as that often feels. The number of contacts in my phone has gradually grown, as have my number of friendships and adventures and lessons. I continually feel like a stronger person, going through disappointment, heartbreak, truly shitty people, and everything in-between and somehow, miraculously making it out alive in one piece.

I still have no idea where I’m going, I just hope I’m not alone.

We’re alive, we’re alive, what are you waiting for?

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