The day I left New York was so hectic, with packing last boxes and loading the Uhaul and carrying armloads of things to the curb, that when I finally locked my apartment door—the crazy landlord waiting right behind me, his hand outstretched for the key—it was a shock to suddenly find myself on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, essentially homeless. No longer a New Yorker but someone about to begin a long journey away from it.
Barbra and Chris had helped us pack all morning, but they were gone now. The crazy landlord had disappeared—back to the Queens, back to the Keys, who knew?—as soon as he pocketed the key. It was just me and Andrew and the Uhaul...and the microwave sitting between us on the sidewalk.
I’d sold almost all my furniture, and it had trickled out of my apartment in the days and weeks before the move; the rest I’d put by the curb, hardly blinking before someone scooped each item up. The only thing that remained was the microwave. A man had called me several times that morning, asking eagerly if I still had it. I’d had other buyers lined up, but when they backed out, I told the man it was his.
He told me after the fact that he was coming from Queens. “Thirty minutes,” he said. Thirty minutes later, he called and said he was stuck in traffic on the BQE. I told him we couldn’t wait for him, that we had to get going. When it’s time to leave a place, I like to leave it—I don’t like to linger after I’ve said my goodbyes. I told him I’d leave the microwave by the curb; if it was still there when he arrived, he could have it. But he called when we were loading the final bits into the Uhaul and said he was five minutes away. So Andrew and I stood and waited, standing idly on the sidewalk between my locked-up apartment and the Uhaul.
He finally arrived, gave me $20, and put the microwave in the back of his car. But before he left, I asked him to take a picture of us in front of my apartment. It’s our last New York City picture. For now.