When we last left me, I had just been promoted to a bigger store in New Hampshire. I thought about staying in Worcester and commuting, but then I realized:
* I would hate that commute
* My car would hate that commute
* Massachusetts would probably force me to pay state income tax to work in New Hampshire, which has no state income tax.
I began looking for a place to live in the Manchester area, and I stumbled upon something that looked good. Cheap rent, all utilities included, decent neighborhood. The guy I would be living with was a big New England Patriots fan, and by December I was starting to feel like the Pats might be on the verge of something magical. Plus, he didn't even ask for a security deposit, just first month's rent. So I jumped at it.
After a few weeks, though, something seemed off. Generally what would happen is, he'd ask me if I wanted to hang out on a Friday or Saturday night, and I'd already have plans. I mean, I was living in New Hampshire, but my family and the vast majority of my friends were still in Massachusetts. There was one night when I stayed up in New Hampshire, to watch one of the Patriots playoff games with one of my new store's cashiers. He knew of a good bar in Manchester and I wanted to build rapport with the new staff. I didn't really feel comfortable inviting my roommate. I also had a vibe my associate wouldn't like the roommate.
New England wound up making it to the Super Bowl, and after an emotional game that (three months later) I'm still exhausted from, they gutted out a victory in the final seconds. Once again, I watched the game with friends down in The Bay State. After much partying, hyperventilating, and a blizzard that was closing in right as the game ended, I didn't get back to New Hampshire until about 2am. And, I had to turn around and get up three hours later to go into work. My plan, which was to post some photos and go to bed, was interrupted by my roommate, who barged into my room.
"Did you think Tom Brady should've been Super Bowl MVP?" he asked.
"I dunno," I said. "I mean, you could've picked a number of guys -- Edelman, Malcolm Butler. But usually when there's no clear-cut MVP they always go with the quarterback for the winning team. And yeah he threw a couple of interceptions early, but he did carry them on his back in the fourth quarter and lead them on two touchdown drives."
My roommate shot back: "It was a terrible pick. They should've given it to Butler. Brady shouldn't have been MVP."
At this point I put my hand up and said: "I couldn't care less who got the MVP, and I really need to try to get some to sleep, OK? Good night."
That following week something seemed off with him, like he was in a fog. I went about my business at work, and whenever he saw me he'd bring up the MVP thing again, and I tried to ignore it. Until, finally, that Friday night, I was on my way out, running a little late, and he once again says, "I can't fucking believe you think Brady should've been the MVP."
And as I walk out the door, I say, "I don't care. Shut the fuck up."
A couple hours later I'm with friends and my phone rings. It's my roommate. "I've thrown all your stuff out into the shed. You need to move out."
I'm like, is this for real?
I tell my friends something came up and I have to leave. I get home and....a police cruiser is sitting in the driveway. I walk in and a Londonderry police officer is waiting to speak with me.
He says: "[Your roommate] says you haven't paid rent since you moved in and you verbally threatened him."
This is ridiculous. I look at my roommate. He's got a beer in his hand. And suddenly, everything comes into place for me.
My roommate is unemployed.
I haven't seen him sober since the Super Bowl.
Empty vodka bottles have been piling up in the sink all week.
I point to the officer and say, "Can I have a word with you outside?"
I tell him that I'm current on my rent and offer to show him my bank account to prove it, that I never threatened him, and explain the Super Bowl MVP debate and make my observations on my roommate's sobriety. The officer nods and says, "Yeah. I can't believe I'm here for this."
We walk back inside and the officer tells my roommate, "Sir, you can't evict your roommate because he disagrees with you about who should be MVP of the Super Bowl. You're going to have to learn to coexist." My roommate argues with the officer, points at me and says, "I want a..." and I think he wanted to say a "restraining order," but he's slurring his words and instead he said "a replacement order."
And the sad part about this is, that night I figured my roommate out. Shortly before I moved in, his girlfriend of 17 years left him. He's unemployed. He doesn't have many friends. He's turned to other things since she's been gone. I can't be his girlfriend, but he's lonely and wanted a friend.
I get it. There have been times in my life when I've been lonely too. But there are better ways of coping with this. I have my own life and challenges and I don't need to absorb his problems too.
I walk back outside with the police office and before he gets in the cruiser he apologies to me and asks, "Have you thought about moving out?"
I nod and say, "Yeah."
Stay tuned for Part 3: The Convenience Store, or There's No Way Out Of Here