An apartment building on my street caught fire the day my roommate and I were illegally dipping out on our apartment. It was very inconvenient.
It was my third move in six months, but for a valid reason: Nicole and I had unknowingly moved in directly above a rowdy nightclub that made it impossible to sleep Thursday-Sunday between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. After three months of this nonsense where I had multiple breakdowns and seriously considered retreating back to Virginia, I instead commissioned my lawyer uncle to serve my landlord a breach of lease contract. Then I cancelled my rent check and called “CJ the man with the Van.”
Of course that day would be when a rooftop greenhouse would blow up in flames on Avenue C. We were moving from 8th Street to 3rd Street – Five blocks on the same avenue that was now covered in fire trucks. Couldn’t they just rescue those people hanging from their fire escapes already? I was trying to make an actual escape from this shitty apartment in broad daylight. (Everyone survived the fire and damage was minimal.)
CJ, the Man with the Van, was so named in my friend Lauren’s iPhone who shared his contact information with me. He’s by no means an authorized mover as evidenced by his arrival in a conversion van that had the seats removed. His nephew and his friend were rolling around in the back.
CJ has a presence. He’s well over 6 feet tall and 200 lbs. He’s also enterprising. He has several businesses and the way he knows which one you’re calling about is which name you call him by. That day “CJ” was also “Nathaniel.” Nathaniel is a relationship expert who interviews women about their lives and loves.
CJ doesn’t actually do any moving. He is more of a supervisor, which lends him the time to be Nathaniel. I respect Nathaniel’s opinion, he offers such keen advice as “Nah, you and your boyfriend don’t fit. If he’s a Taurus he’s going to hold you back as a Gemini. He’s too stubborn.” (We’re no longer together.)
Which leads me to the video interview. Two years ago I had lived in New York only six months and CJ was explaining the reasons why New York women are so guarded. It’s because they had been through betrayals and disappointments. It didn’t resonate with me at the time, but after Nicole unearthed the videos of us from the bowels of YouTube I realized that I have changed.
I’ve been heartbroken now. I’ve been numbed. I still walk more slowly and talk more slowly than native New Yorkers, but my smiles now hide the same hurts and betrayals as my fellow Manhattanites. But I also realized that he captured me on the day I made the decision to not be a pushover anymore. I would stand up for myself and go after what I deserve.
(P.S. Hannah has two ‘N’s”)