Battling the Wizard – Part X
The following catalogs the turmoil that led
to my sudden move to Nederland at the end of January.
It’s extremely long, though each part is reasonable article length.
Each day seems a blessing to me. I live in a wonderful place. I have wonderful friends. I have a fun job in which I get to see the best in people. I want for nothing. There are weeks that go by where I forget what hunger feels like. When I’m sleep deprived, it’s by choice. I have the love and support of a wonderful family. I have the luxury of having time to play games or music, read and write, and wander the natural world. I have good health, have survived all my illnesses successfully, and feel stronger every day.
I am not alone in this.
Nor should I be.
I have had stretches of my life where I could barely afford to eat, where I slept in strange places because I felt I had to, where I needed things I didn’t have. It’s a harsh wake up call to the reality of the bliss I live in most of the time. And it’s a reminder that not everyone is as lucky as I am. At every turn, I could’ve gone to my parents and asked for help. Several time, I did just that, embarrassed, yet grateful.
I’ve lived with other people continuously my entire life, be it my family, my roommates at boarding school in 7th and 8th grade, in my college dorm, or in the many places I’ve called home since. I’ve lived communally, where food, vehicles and activities are shared. I’ve lived simultaneously, where we simply move along next to each other. At every turn, even when the place is temporary, I’ve felt like I made each domicile a home.
I never really felt that at the house with the Wizard.
The Wizard’s life has not been as easy. He has health and dietary issues. He has numerous conditions, real or psychosomatic, that threaten his happiness at every turn. And while I don’t feel his actions and treatment of me have been justified, I sympathize with his plight and understand how difficult it must be.
With that much going wrong, it’s no wonder he needs a specific routine, and it’s no surprise that my simple, unhindered life might be the root of many of his problems. With that much on his mind, necessary to his existence, it’s no wonder that he had difficulty realizing how he was making me feel.
It’s a strange thing to say that despite having a warm bed in a safe home replete with friends, I felt homeless and a guest. I felt that despite unpacking things and occasionally playing host to friends, I was marginalized and at the edges. That I was constantly on the verge of moving out or being forced out from the moment we had decided I would move in.
And I told myself it would get better.
I used to be able to count on my hands the number of times I had cried emotionally since elementary school: when my grandmother died, when my dad had a pulmonary embolism, when I left Boulder for my world tour, after a friend and coworker passed away, when the kitten at the pet store who wasn’t doing well, whom I had been nursing back to health, didn’t make it, when I wasn’t able to help my lacrosse team in what ended up being the final high school game of my career.
In the six days I spent trying to rearrange my life and get out of my housing situation with the Wizard, I felt like my eyes did nothing but stare blankly and produce a torrent of tears. I cried in the shower in the mornings, while I walked between events. I fought off tears as I rode the lift and skied, despondent at the loss of the friendship.
“Can you talk to him?” my friends asked me.
“My mind is made up,” I would respond when calm. “I’d rather be homeless than under the same roof as him,” I’d say when angry.
On day three, before I knew where I was going, before I had rented a truck, before I had finished packing, he sent me a text asking if we could talk. He had read the email I had sent. He had context finally. I agreed, hoping that we might save the friendship. The living situation was over regardless. I got home later than I expected from work and before running off to take care of a few things, I let him know my time frame.
“I may be stoned by then,” he said calmly.
“Do you need to be sober for this conversation?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
When I finally had a chance to sit down with him, he was stoned, reclining in his massage chair for his back pain. I had rehearsed this conversation in my head on the walk, wondering how I could explain how much he had hurt me, how poorly he had treated me, and how terrible I felt.
I sat down across from him and let him say what he wanted to say. He told me of the way he is. He explained how important sleep was to him. He opened up without revealing a thing, telling me things I already knew, carefully blaming me for being a problem without ever directly accusing me. “If only I had some context, I think the morning would’ve gone differently. I mean, I know the Birthday Girl is a bit of a fuck up, but I would’ve driven her myself,” he claimed. I didn’t believe him. He reiterated how much it hurt him financially to loan me his car, how much he hated doing it, and how I should know this. “So, yeah…” he concluded.
He had said nothing to apologize for his behavior. He had given me excuses, laid blame on my shoulders, and tried to pin things even further on my head.
I let the pause linger, rage welling up in my esophagus, tears in my eyes, and then I let rip.
I told him how I felt that morning, how my week was ruined well before his day. I told him how I sought other options, how I hated to ask, but saw no other option. I told him how his lack of trust hurt me, how his choice to try to further ruin my day in vengeance hurt me, how his active and willful choice to eschew context contradicted his most recent claims. I told him how I was tired of feeling like I was the root of the problem any time something went wrong, that I was sick of him shirking his part in things, that I was done with being a second class citizen in the household.
And I told him my mind was made up. There was nothing more to be said.
It ended there, in that conversation. Our relationship was over. Even his attempt at mending things was insincere and came down on me. The whole thing was unacceptable.
I packed through the tears of anger. I was choked up at the outpouring of support from my friends throughout the ordeal. I was at once mystified how a crotchety old man could be so crotchety and how so much love and caring and empathy could radiate from nearly every other corner of my life.
It was a beautiful juxtaposition: the incredible tragedy of our relationship and the living situation, the incredible beauty of others helping come to my rescue. I was ecstatic and afraid and angry and joyous all at once. I was bursting from the seams.
I rode at A-Basin with a friend to clear my head. When we got back, a single phone call found a room, a truck, a storage unit, and all of it seemed too good to be true. I spent the next three days in a panic, packing, donating, excavating the remains of my soon-to-be previous domicile.
The angry emails started then, first vindictively, then just matter-of-factly: he pointed out I was leaving them in the lurch; he pointed out that they were suffering for my leaving, claiming rent and utilities should be my burden; he wasn’t asking me to stay, but clearly my leaving was unacceptable; as a Jew I know a guilt trip when I see it, and when I tried to call him on it (my mistake for trying) I received a trio of angry emails in response; finally, he read my own deadline back to me as if it were his own.
“I expect you and all of your things to be out of the house by 5 on Friday, with the key left on the table and the downstairs reasonably clean,” the email read. “This is not negotiable.”
I was gone by Thursday afternoon.
He was rude and untoward when I tried to be civil while moving. He was insulting and verbally abusive to me and my friends. And I wondered if he was suffering the split as much as I was. And then I remembered that I didn’t care anymore.
I would hardly call life perfect since then. My new house is strange, my life still a mild mess, but for the first time in years, I feel happy at home. My roommates have their issues, but I am not an issue for them. It makes me feel good to just be able to be.
I saw the Wizard a week after moving out. I returned a couple of his items that had been mixed up with mine. He handed me mail. He was shockingly civil, almost nice. I had missed that about him. I left as quickly as I could, unwilling to be sucked back in, remaining outside the threshold of the emotional prison the Wizard had created. And as I walked away, tears for the Wizard, the friendship, the camaraderie, and everything else, fell for the last time.
I was done battling the Wizard. And I am happier for it.
I hope that he is too.