Four days later, and the tops of both thighs still burn, sensitive to the touch. No, nothing to do with running, which is another sad story, left for another day.
I load my canons, yes one “n”, and fire.
- The Tort: “You entered into a verbal contract. You said you would stay.”
- The Economic: “Manhattan is nose bleed expensive. You’ll drain whatever savings you have.”
- The Nostalgic: “I’m turning your room in an extension of my Den, and calling it my West Wing.”
- The Desperate: “You know in Italy, kids live with their parents until well into their 30’s.”
- The Fear Mongering: “I’m cutting you off Netflix, Amazon Prime and yes, AT&T Mobile Service.”
Nothing works. And we’re off.
The family caravan departs in the Resettlement. Eric (Son) drives the U-haul with two friends. Mom, Dad and Rachel are up ahead in a separate car. Waze estimates 44 miles – a whopping 1 hour 42 minutes to lower Manhattan.
The rain falls gently, setting the appropriate back drop.
It’s a five-floor walk-up. I now know what a 5-floor walk-up means. No elevators and narrow stairwells. Walk-up means walk-up. With furniture, furnishings and oversize and overweight boxes, all up five floors – on foot. With adequate resistance provided by non-ventilated, A/C-free hallways. The musty carpet fibers are pulled deep into the lungs with each trip up and down the stairs.
It’s a Manhattan Studio apartment. I now know what a Manhattan Studio apartment is. A one room apartment less than 1/4 the size of the house she left with a monthly rent payment equal to our mortgage. Oh, yes, it contains something resembling a kitchen (a hot plate and portable fridge) and a micro bathroom which I mistook for a closet. The view, the wall of the brownstone apartment building across the street.
The six of us stand in her Studio, among wall to wall boxes and a dismantled bed, dresser and shelving units. We stand, in sopping sweat stained clothes, sipping ice cold bottled water, which sweats in our hands. I take one last look around, the walls close in (claustrophobia) – the Man’s mule work is done. The organization and beautification is best left to the capable – Daughter and Mother stay behind.
“Good luck Honey.”
“Thanks for your help Dad. Really appreciate it.” She squeezes tightly and holds me for an extra second or two. I watch her move to hug her Brother. I need to get out. I’m emotional wreckage, flotsam in a Tsunami. (Claustrophobia now shifts to Suffocation.)
The Friday afternoon traffic is thick, commuters leaving early for the weekend. The West Side Highway is a parking lot, now at a standstill.
Light rain turns to a deluge. Each drop splays on the windshield, a kaleidoscope. The air conditioning is blowing, stiffening the back, the shoulders and the thighs. The rain increases its intensity, drumming on the hood and windshield.
You know what you feel.
That’s not warmth and happiness for her fresh start. Her independence. Her Freedom.
The separation has been less than 30 minutes.
And you? And your insides?
The charred ashes are smoldering.
That’s framing that’s still standing…
The House is burnt out and gutted.
- Image: Rachel’s apartment, Before and After. Thank you Susan.
- Related Posts: “Family“