Two years ago, when I came on board as a contributing writer for Realcity, I was in something of an odd position. I’d recently vacated my apartment of nearly five years, parted ways with the friend I’d helped move in an infamous article and had settled into a not-so-comfortable existence crashing on a friend’s futon in the living room of her one bedroom apartment. My career as an actor/writer was in something of a limbo state — closing in on my 28th birthday, I wasn’t exactly headlining shows on Broadway or landing recurring roles on The Good Wife (though I did get a background role as a grand jury member!) My day job sucked, my friends were absent and I felt stuck. I’d been reading a fair amount of Christopher Hitchens and as a long-practicing Christian, I began to seriously question the prospect that any sort of divine plan was pointing me in the direction of something more desirable than where I was at that point. Factoring in the state of the world as we know it, I hard time seeing just where a loving God fit into it all.
Before any of you scoff at the woes of the self-glorifying, self-pitying artist writing this column, let me explain. I’ve always known, regardless of one’s own beliefs, God would not magically come from the sky and whisk me off to a happy reality. Even Bible-thumping fundamentalists would roll their eyes at such a notion. Still, for someone who prided himself on hard work and perseverance, I did begin to wonder when an opportunity for something better would manifest itself and whether I’d be aware enough to notice when it did.
Luckily, an opportunity presented itself to me. Her name was Debra Siegel. Meeting through the auditions for two of our shows being presented at a theater in Brooklyn, we bonded immediately and quickly became inseparable. When two years had gone by, and the imminent end of our respective leases were upon us, we decided the time was finally right to take that big step so many couples meet with equal parts excitement and trepidation: moving in together. We managed to find an affordable one bedroom in Williamsburg, just a short walk from my then-residence in Greenpoint. With the lease signed, and the deposits and fees out of the way, the only thing left was moving itself.
Having moved several times in my transient twenties, I was no stranger to the ordeal that is switching domains. However, by the time one reaches the end of their twenties, a few strange things are known to happen. Your built-in moving team disappears. Your family is halfway across the country. Your friends are suddenly so busy with lives, careers and relationships of their own that the idea of dropping it all to help you move is an alien concept. Additionally, only when breaking down the accumulated loot of your transient decade do you realize just how much stuff you have acquired. The act of moving had suddenly become an act of God; a task so massive and tedious that it could only be properly accomplished through divine intervention. Luckily, Debra just happened to have God as a Facebook friend — in the form of Aware Moving.
Aware Moving is a Brooklyn-based moving company that, according to their Facebook page, specializes in a formula to move any client with “joy.” In fact, the formula is spelled out as “Values + Agreement = Joy.” The name “God” comes from the Americanized mispronunciation of Gad, the company’s founder and primary organizer. Debra had spoken highly of her experience with the company during her last relocation and decided we simply had to “go with Gad” this time around.
A personable and muscular man, Gad introduced himself to us, and spoke vividly of his last move with Debra two years earlier. He immediately remembered that Debra had been entering her last year of grad school and asked how post-academic life had been treating her. Clearly, Gad has a long memory. Before lifting a single box, he brought us into the living room to stress the company mission of promoting the moving experience as a joyful one pointing toward a hopeful future. Such a mission statement is a lofty one to live up to for anybody, especially for men who make their living lifting other people’s possessions in oppressive heat up numerous flights of stairs. Regardless, I have to say that no other company I’ve encountered has lived up to their mission statement so fully. Not once did I overhear a tense or curt statement from Gad or any of his associates as they continually ran up and down the stairs to carry our belongings. Instead, high fives and handshakes were offered, as well as numerous thanks and even an “I love you, my friend” thrown in for good measure. Gad also paused once or twice to ask me about my own life and where the move would be taking me.
As someone who long ago renounced the idea of a supernatural entity governing the laws of existence, it felt a bit ironic to be asked by “God” himself about how I envisioned my future. Still, impressed by their efficiency, I made the effort to answer as cordially as I could. Strangely enough, I had no difficulty in doing so. I’d become a full-fledged convert by the time they’d moved my belongings from Greenpoint, conversing as openly and warmly with Gad and his disciples as I would with an old friend. When all of our furnishings and miscellaneous possessions had been moved into our new apartment (in the span of just six hours), Gad sat us down to go over the necessary paperwork. Rather than quibble over hourly rates and insurance fees, Gad instead emphasized that the moment we were in was the next moment of our entire lives. He said that he hoped they’d made the move a joyful one, and wished us all the best for a hopeful and contented future.
One week later, Debra and I are as fully adjusted to our new dwelling as we were in our previous homes. We may not have Internet access yet (damn you, Time Warner!), but my close encounter with Gad has given me the perspective to see this as a positive change.
In that spirit of change, I’m equal parts mournful and hopeful to announce that this will be the last edition of The Wandering Brooklynite. With the editors of Realcity moving on to other things themselves, it appears I will be too. While I’m sorry to leave it behind, I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to share my travels with a small but devoted audience of regular readers.
Change is a strange thing. In just over two years, I’ve managed to move from life on a futon to a modest three bedroom in Greenpoint and now a homey one-bedroom in Williamsburg with my girlfriend of over two years. I’ve changed jobs once and am in the midst of looking to transition a second time. I’ve shifted my focus from performing to writing, having had two of my original plays published and eight other one-acts produced. My first produced full-length work is scheduled to go up later this year and I’ve recently completed work on my first screenplay.
Debra has been a continual guiding light and an inspiration through it all and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to be at my side. I’m also grateful to everyone at Realcity for providing me not only with an outlet, but a chance to see a side of the city I probably never would have taken the time to appreciate if not working on “The Wandering Brooklynite.” The weekend will never look the same again.
As Gad Himself put it when we signed the invoice agreement, “There is no time but now. The past is gone and the future is not yet here. We have only now to make joy for ourselves. I wish you all the luck and joy in the world. Thank you for being a part of our family right now.”
Thank you for being a part of mine. Joy to you.