Chapter 4: New York City - September 29, 2017
The next morning, Dad and I got a quick breakfast at the diner up the street from my place before he was supposed to head to the airport. I hadn’t slept at all last night, flipping through the photos in the albums I had found. It was nice taking a trip down memory lane. Most were from my early high school days where I had spent most of my time with my friends and before Michael came along. Before I knew it, dawn had come and I was in a more pleasant mood than I had been since his death.
“You look tired. Did you sleep at all last night?” Daddy asked me as he poured some sugar in his coffee. I shook my head, taking a long sip off my orange juice.
“No. I was going through some things in my room and was packing. You know, Dad. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Is there any way you can get out of your flight this afternoon?”
“Well yeah. I suppose I can. Why? Did you want me to stay longer?”
“No. It’s not that. I think we should rent a truck for all of my stuff and drive down. I thought a lot about what you said and what Sarah said. Maybe I need some time away from all of this. I called her this morning and told her I was going to take the rest of the year off to figure some stuff out. And so, I could go back to Trenton with you.” My father’s face broke out into a wide smile as he looked up at me.
“You really mean it, kiddo?” I nodded. “That’s great! I know Grams will be excited to see you. And your friends. They ask me about you all the time. When did you want to head down?”
“I have to finish packing up my things and find some movers to load them up so probably a day or two. I don’t have much that I want to bring with me. Michael’s family is going to be getting the things they want at the end of the week. I want to be gone before that happens.”
“I think I can make that happen.” The waitress came over and took our orders. She returned a few minutes later with our food. Dad was excitedly talking about our trip down there and where we would have to stop along the way for the best food and to site see. It was nice seeing him happy about something.
“Dad, I’m going to gain eighty pounds before we even get to Trenton if we stop everywhere you wanna stop.” I said, laughing. He shrugged, popping the rest of his pancakes into his mouth.
“Ain’t nothing wrong about enjoying a good burger now and then.”
“It is when you do it in like twelve states in three days.” I replied. Pulling out my phone, I began searching for local movers in the area. I secured a small team of them to come by with our moving truck in two days. I knew I could be ready by then. I had to pay a fortune for the small window of notice but I didn’t mind. I knew if I was going to go through with this, it had to happen sooner or later.
“You should have Sarah come down for the holidays!” Dad said, tossing a twenty on top of the bill the waitress left on our table. “I’ll make some meat free shit so she can eat with us. Your grandmother won’t know the difference between that and what I usually make.”
“I’ll ask her. Has Grams really gotten that bad?” He shook his head, cupping his coffee cup in his hands.
“No. She thinks she’s on the verge of death though. It’s a very slow decline. Some days she forgets simple things like our address or where she left her glasses. Honestly, I think it’s just normal old people stuff. You know her though. Always has to be dying from something. I sometimes wonder if she’s faking it for the dramatics. You’ll see when we get there.” He finished his coffee and slide the empty cup towards the middle of the table. “You’re sure about this? You’re not just doing this because of me, right?”
“I’m doing this because I need a break from all of this. I need to touch base with where I came from and find the person I was before Michael. I barely know who I am anymore and the only way I can think of finding that girl again is to go back to the place I last saw her. I’m just hoping to be get a jump start back on my life. One that I can forget about Michael in.”
“Honey, why do you want to forget about Michael so badly? He was your husband. Dying wasn’t his fault. I know I felt the same way when your mother died. I was mad at her and God for taking her away. It took some time but I learned that I couldn’t blame her for what happened.”
“I’m in a much different boat than that, Daddy.” I said, sighing. “Michael is dead because of his own actions. He was drunk driving and hit another vehicle. Not only did he manage to stupidly kill himself, he killed his secret girlfriend. It wasn’t a client in his car. It was his girlfriend he had been hiding from me for six months. He caused his own death by making poor decisions and being selfish. He doesn’t deserve the right to live on in my memories. I rather he just disappears all together.”
“Well, shit.” Dad said, letting out a puff of air from his lips. “That’s some tough stuff. I see why this has been so hard on you. I tell you what; once we get out of New York, we don’t need to talk about him unless you want to. Deal?” He held out his hand. I took it in mine.
The rest of the day and night was filled with packing up the rest of my things. Sarah came over after work and helped. I treated everyone to pizza for dinner and we finished everything up the next day. My apartment looked like it was made out of boxes by the time moving day came. I had arranged everything in the living room so that the movers wouldn’t need to go that far. Everything that was Michael’s that I didn’t want, I left packed up in a stack of totes in the bedroom. His brother Owen was flying in this weekend to get what was left though he wasn’t too thrilled about making the trip when I spoke to him last. I had not been shy when I told him about my move. I explained to him what happened for real in Michael’s accident and that if it was up to me, all of Michael’s stuff would be on its way to the dump. He finally agreed to come get it, telling me he was sorry about Michael’s infidelity. More like he was sorry he had to travel 3,000 miles to get some stuff.
The movers came and loaded up the small moving truck on the street in front of my building. Dad directed traffic, telling them where to put what and how to stack things in an efficient fashion. Even though the moving guys have probably done these a million times, my father made sure to show them “a thing or two about moving.” I stood back and watched them do their things. It was weird seeing everything I owned get shoved into a truck, this time heading for North Carolina instead of another place in the city. Only some of my stuff was going to Dad’s house. The rest was getting put into a storage unit until I decided what to do. I wasn’t planning on staying in Trenton more than three months. Eventually, I’ll head back up this way to find a new place to live.
“Hey.” Sarah’s voice said as she stepped out of the car that pulled up in front of the moving truck. Her hair was curled around her head and she wore a very sharp dark blue business suit. We were supposed to have a meeting with an important power couple that work on Wall Street today. She was going to be handling it solo though thanks for my soul-searching journey.
“Hey. You look fantastic! You ready for the meeting?” I asked. She nodded, walking over to me. I noticed the tears in her eyes as she glanced at the truck. “Don’t do it, Sarah.”
“What? I’m sad to see my best friend move away.”
“I’m not moving away. I’m taking a three-month vacation. I will be back in no time. Besides, you’re coming down in November for Thanksgiving. And I will be video calling you every night.” She wiped the tears away as they started to form in my eyes. Sarah was the only person I had left in the city. At the moment, she was the only thing about it I was really going to miss.
“You better. I’m going to miss your face so much.”
“I’ll miss yours more.” We wrapped our arms around each other in a tight hug as my father closed the door of the truck. He bid farewell to the team of movers as they climbed into their van across the street. Turning towards me, he smiled.
“You ready?” He asked as I pulled away from Sarah. I nodded, wiping my tears away.
“Yeah.” I smiled at Sarah, giving her one last hug.
“Don’t worry about things here. I’ve got everything taken care of. You take care of yourself, okay?”
“I’ll try my best. If you need any help, give me a call. I can be back up here in one flight.”
“You know I’m not going to do that.” She winked at me. I smiled.
“Yeah. I know.”