"Richie threatened to stab me. Should I press charges?"
This was the call I got while at work over a month ago from my roommate Charlie. Richie is our other room-mate. Charlie had just moved in about a month or two ago. Richie had been my roommate for about four months.
"Wait, what?" I responded.
Charlie explained, "Richie is really drunk. He threatened to stab me with a kitchen fork. He got up in my face saying I stole something from him. I'm in my room now and I'm wondering if I should call the cops."
"Hang on a second Charlie, I'm still at work, let me call you back in ten minutes." I replied.
I didn't get that long, soon I had another call on my cellphone. This time it was my landlord.
"Richie has to move out immediately. He just called me, drunk, cursing and screaming. I want him gone by the end of the week. Either he goes or I'm going to evict all three of you." my Landlord told me.
Luckily my shift was almost over, so I called a good friend to discuss this, and after my shift ended and I had clocked out we met for beers to talk things through.
Richie had been on a vodka bender for the better part of a week. He had done this before when his grandfather passed away, he drank vodka noon and night but I let it pass as he was mourning. I didn't realize then that going on drunken vodka benders was what he does. This time he had gone too far.
My friend, riled up, said we should just go to my apartment and throw him out. I could tell my friend was too heated so when we parted I told him to go home and I would handle it myself. I've been in this apartment for the better part of four years now, all the utilities were in my name and I have a good relationship with the landlord. I wasn't about to lose my apartment because Richie can't handle his liquor.
So I went back to my apartment to find Richie drunk and staggering. He came up to me immediately to make his case in slurred speech. I cut him off "I don't care. I want you out at the end of the week."
Voices rose. Richie said he wasn't going to leave. He asked if I would call the cops. I told him I would if he refused to pay his rent and refused to leave. That made things worse. Richie insisted that real men don't call the cops, that we could work things out. I told him there was nothing left to work out, he threatened the new roommate Charlie and cursed out the landlord. The landlord said either Richie goes or all of us are getting evicted. Richie had to go. That was that.
"You can't make me." Richie stated, his voice rising.
"The hell I can't." I replied. "Either you're gone in a week or come next Saturday I'm putting all your shit in the streets and changing the locks."
My name is on the lease. Richie's is not.
The argument escalated. Richie began to pace back and forth, swaying as he did so. I was losing my patience. Richie continued to holler and pace back and forth, pleading his case. I was having none of it. Eventually Richie took a quick step towards me and said "I'm not going and that's that. And what are you going to do about it you fat fuck?"
So I punched him square in the nose.
This, in hindsight, was a very poor decision on my part. More about that later.
He went falling back, breaking a framed picture of Mohammed Ali he had left on the floor. His nose was flattened. Blood came down from his nostrils and a gash opened under his eye. He got up and we got tangled up, he tried to hockey-shirt me but I wrapped my arms around him and slammed him to the floor, dropping my weight down on top of him. Then I dragged him through our hallway and to the front door, meaning to toss him out. I had him headlocked in one arm while I tried to unlock the door with the other when he wriggled free.
Now there was a total ruckus. Richie demanded another fight. He boasted that I knew he could take me. He said if I didn't call the cops we could have a rematch then and there. By then I had grown tired of this lunacy. I told him no, we won't have a rematch, I want you the fuck out of here by Saturday. So he walked away down the hall to his room and said over his shoulder as he left "You'll get yours on your way to work, watch."
So I followed him down the hall shouting "What did you say?" He closed his door on me and I kicked it open. He closed the door again and I kicked it open again. This time the door hit him in the face when I kicked it. We argued again. Holy hell was being raised. Eventually Richie decided it was okay to call the cops on me and threatened to do so. I grabbed my computer from my room and a few things and threw them in my bag and got the hell out of there. I stayed that night at a friends house who lives in my neighborhood.
The next day I told the landlord the whole story. My landlord likes me and wanted Richie out so we called the cops to explain the situation and see if we could get Richie evicted. No dice. he had been there for more than 30 days, it was a matter for the courts now. So I made myself scarce around my apartment for the next few days. I didn't want to be confronted with a drunken, fork wielding maniac holding a grudge. It wasn't until that Friday when I went home to sleep a bit around midnight so I could get up in time for work the next morning at ten that things came to a head.
And that was when the cops came to my bedroom door to place me under arrest.
I went to the police station at two in the morning on a Friday night without my jacket or cellphone. I got out at almost midnight the next day. I was lucky that one of the officers called my job for me to inform them I wouldn't be able to get to work that morning as I was "A witness to an event". I explained the whole thing to my General Manager the next day. I told him the truth of it. He gave me a a knowing look and said "Don't let it happen again." I assured him I would not.
The tough guy drunk roommate who had bullied the other roommate and threatened to stab him, the tough guy who insisted real men don't call the cops had called the cops on me. Likely he woke up with a bad hangover and a black eye and decided it was okay to call the cops. I don't know, nor do I care. What was done was done. I do not seek another confrontation with Richie, I just want to be able to get my stuff out of that apartment at some point and live somewhere else, unless he moves out and I can move back in, which the landlord said he'd be okay with. But now the landlord is evicting all of us in order to get rid of Richie, so I will just have to wait and see how that pans out over time.
Before leaving the booking center at Kew Gardens I was brought before a judge. I was informed that I would be barred from my apartment, where my name is on the lease and Richie's is not, under an order of protection, until a time no earlier than my court date on May 7th. It was mid march at the time. For the next 7 weeks I would be out of my apartment, to go who knows where. I was allowed a police escort back to my apartment the next day to get a few things, whatever essentials I could carry, basically. I stuffed a backpack with my laptop and a bunch of clothing and thanked fortune I had done laundry the day before, so I grabbed the backpack and the full laundry bag and left.
Since then I have been couch surfing for the most part, figuring out where I am going to sleep next on a day to day basis. I left one bag on clothing at a friends in Astoria near where I work and another at my brothers who had recently moved out to Brooklyn. Between those tow places and my job I had cobbled together a system for keeping my clothes somewhere so I don't have to carry everything with me everywhere I go.
During all of this three things have kept me somewhat sane, my job, my brother and my daughter.
My daughter is almost 18 months old. She lives with her mother on the upper west side. Her mother and I have periods where we can be friendly to one another and periods where we do not. Right now is one of those periods where we are not behaving friendly to one another. In this I am not without some guilt myself. I had been seeing my daughter on my days off from work and contributing as much as I can on my meager salary. Now her mother will not respond to my calls or messages and will not allow me to see my daughter. So there is that.
My brother had allowed me to stay at his place more often than not, but he forces me to leave when he leaves at 6 or 7 in the morning for work, and with no where else to go and chilly late winter early spring weather that means for the most part I have to find somewhere to go during the days before I go to work, and if I have the day off that just means more time spent wandering about myriad coffee shops, pubs and other public places trying to get wifi, stay warm and look online for rooms to rent. It turns out in the time I had been at my apartment all of the five boroughs have become unaffordable. The rent truly is too damn high. I love my brother and he has done a great deal to help me but I can tell he has a growing sense of animosity towards me, and he has expressed that I can no longer stay there while I try to find something I can afford on a more permanent basis. So there is that too.
And then there is my job, which I enjoy but which doesn't pay much. Before this incident I had not missed a day in over a year and had only been late twice. Now I feel I am walking on thin ice. I had taken the job to get a stable income that wasn't dependent on writing, because writing pays slightly more than reading and I have a daughter to help support. Now it feels an almost absurd exercise in futility. You work almost 40 hours, sometimes more, sometimes less, each week, only to be able to not afford to live. Wonderful! I get to work and be poor. Hooray. But I digress...
Until recently my rent was cheap and between rent and utilities I could pay my bills, contribute almost a whole paycheck a month to my daughter's care and keep about $100 a week for myself to get by on. It doesn't take much to keep me happy, and I live by somewhat spartan means, but swiftly I found that this would no longer be tenable. Before I was paying about $600 a month between rent and utilities, now it looks like I will be paying at least $850 a month unless I can find a room that is more affordable, and from the looks of it that isn't going to happen. I had been effectively priced out of NYC.
So I keep looking online for a roommate situation I can afford to no avail. I go to work and then I leave work to go to nothing and to text a rotating list of friends for a place to crash at the end of each day. Sometimes no one is available and you end up having to sleep on the subway, but most of the time someone helps out. I still set aside money for my daughter. I have saved up enough to pay first month and deposit on a place. Now all I need is a place I can afford.
But that doesn't tell the full story. Not of the strain I can tell is put upon those who I have to reach out to at the end of each day for a place to rest for the night. Not for the resentment you can sense among your closer friends when you touch base with them on a daily basis. And not even to touch upon the weather worn heart I carry around with myself wherever I go, weary and hardened, hopeful but cognizant of the reality, that I have next to nothing and nowhere to go at the end of the day.
It is in those hours that loneliness becomes a weight to carry. It is easier to give up, but I can't, my memory of my father giving up and the pain it caused me then, a scar I still feel to this day, keeps me from every considering such a thing, I would not inflict that pain upon my loved ones or deprive my daughter her right to have a father, though in truth she has but a shell of one now. Nor would I deny myself the right to dream of better days to come, of love and stability and growth of my own human spirit, of seeing my daughter grow and maybe having a loving family of my own one day. But as shadows cast by the light of a fire onto the wall of a cave these visions of hope I have are also a mirage, a hope of what may be one day but also with the hunger pang of knowing it is not what it is, not presently at any rate.
My apologies if my thoughts have meandered here. I have felt the need to vent. It is cathartic in a way, but I can imagine these thoughts come off in a disjointed fashion, and for that I apologize.
Presently I am staying with a fellow Kossack who saw the diary dirkster42 posted on Thursday about my situation the last few weeks. I can stay here until May 16th while I try to find a place I can actually afford in Queens or Brooklyn. I may need a place to crash here or there for a day at a time during that period, but at least I have some sense of stability for 5 days out of the week until May 16. And you wouldn't believe how valuable a thing like that can be until you are forced to do without it.
Truthfully I had been loath to share this experience publicly. When I first started blogging a few years back I had no idea how much of my life would be in the public domain, and though I have been mostly comfortable with that there are parts of my life I am reluctant to make public, especially so the parts that I am not proud of, such as this most recent episode, but to hell with it. What does not kill us makes us stronger, it is said, and with luck my story can at the very least help some other person who is going through a similar struggle if not myself. Who knows. Weirder things have happened to me.
So you go to work each day, you pay your bills, you get by modestly, often by the skin of your teeth, and all it takes is one unexpected event and WHAM, you're fucked, you are totally fucked and out on your ass. You played the game by the rules, but that is a fool's errand when the game is rigged against you.
I am coming to the realization that I have a major problem with feeling a sense of self worth. I know in my heart of hearts that I am worth more than my meager pay, that I am worthy of love and capable of loving, that I am not ugly or worthless, and yet I can not articulate that often. It is easy to be depressive, to shoulder on and grin and bare it but at the same time to feel lost, alone, unloved and unlovable. Often I feel exactly what I am, fat, poor and now homeless, a contemptible wretch with nothing to offer, and there are other times where thank God I am reminded that I am more than my present state of affairs, a human being, a man, a man who struggles as we all do in one capacity or another, but a a man nonetheless. Some days are good. Other days are not. There are days where I debate with myself about giving up, there are other days where I know I will fight my ass off in the hope that once again good fortune will smile down upon me for being a good and honorable man. Maybe I have worn out my welcome here in New York City and it is time to pick up and start over somewhere else. But where? And how? I have done that before and always the problems you try to leave behind have a certain way of following you wherever you go. Another roadblock to moving away from NYC would be that I wouldn't get to see my daughter anymore, and though her mother and I have our issues and disagreements I love my daughter with all my heart and soul. It pains me not to be able to see her every day. I don't get to make my daughter breakfast. I don't get to read my daughter bed time stories. After the last big argument I had with her mother a week ago she will not return my calls or messages. It is likely I shall go a long time again without seeing my daughter. I do not know how to remedy that situation. It is just another weight I carry with me for now, I guess, another sorrow to be born.
I have not had a meaningful romantic relationship since my daughter was born and her mother and I broke up. I have always had problems with self confidence and self worth. Recent events have not made that any better, but I try as I may and put a positive face on for the most part. I have found that I must force myself to remain positive and cheerful as a defense against my own introverted nature, and honestly I'd rather fake cheerfulness to help me get through the tough times than to wallow in the reality of the depressing nature of these circumstances. Better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst than to give up hope altogether.
With that thought in mind I will conclude this piece. I wanted to say thank you to all who have expressed kindness and support these last few days. I think all of you deserved to get some response from me after these events were made public a few days ago. Obviously writing at length has been difficult for me over the last year or so, politics have worn me down and my own personal issues have taken a priority over blogging about politics, whereas my own personal feelings are often hard to express, and more often I do not wish to share with the public everything that crosses my mind, both the things that give me joy for which I am grateful and the things that pain me to admit that must be drawn out of my soul like drawing poison from a wound, yet the poison must be drawn out or else it festers, and in that I feel much better having written today than if I had not. As ever I am eternally grateful to you, my dear readers and friends, for listening to my tale and helping me understand what I can do better in the future. For that and much more I say thank you.
And of course, if anyone knows of an affordable room I can rent in queens or brooklyn, or elsewhere, feel free to drop me a line.
Again, thank you for helping me and letting me get this off of my chest, and if there is anyone whom I can help with advice on dealing with depression or anything else, feel free to ask.
Peace and love to one and all
10:26 AM PT: Thanks to all for the bit of emotional support and letting me vent. I have to go off to work now so I won't be around to respond to comments until much later this evening.