Moving Pictures.

The year was 1998. I was living in Washington, D.C. in a small, one bedroom apartment on 16th Street. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of 2 years. In less than 24 hours, our apartment was nearly emptied. I was living alone for the first time in my life.

Missy and I decided to go away for the weekend and visit our alma matter in order to spend some valuable time reminiscing with people around a keg. It was during that trip, I decided that to buy a massive, 2-ton television set.

I met Toshiba at Sears.

The TV weighed a lot. So the strong men working for Sears helped us get it into the back of the car. I never once thought about how Missy and I would get it into my apartment back in D.C. The building had an elevator, but how would we get it to the elevator? And then how would we get it to my door? And then how would we get it onto the TV stand? These were not questions I thought about until much later when we pulled up to my apartment building.

“How are the two of us going to get this out of the car and into your building?” Missy asked.

“Great question.” I said. “Maybe we can do it?”

Missy looked skeptical.

But we managed. Somehow we got it out of the car. I have no idea how. After that we rolled the box from door-to-door hoping the styrofoam casing would protect it. We rolled it onto the elevator, down the hallway on the 4th floor, and then rolled it right through the front door. And with every last bit of our strength, we hoisted it onto the pedestal.

All I had to do was never, ever leave.

In 1999 I began dating a guy whom I had been friends with for well over a year. And while our friendship may have lasted indefinitely; our romantic relationship ignited, sparked, exploded, smoldered and then fell to the ground in a heap of black ash in less than 5 months. Our main goal at that time was entrusting ourselves with the task of not trusting one another. That was imperative, and a relationship destined for failure.

But he did have the same TV and used to joke that the only reason I got mine was to one-up him because mine was like an inch larger. TV Envy, is what he called it.

We broke up. And it was tumultuous. It was harrowing. And I decided one night for no reason whatsoever that I was going to move to New York City.

Just like that.

A day before I was scheduled to move, I asked a friend of mine—a very strong friend of mine—if he’d help. I told him I’d buy him dinner, drinks, and give him a place to stay. I’d even pay for his train ticket to get back to D.C. He agreed.

Getting the TV into the truck at the DC end wasn’t difficult for him at all. He simply had to lift it up once, move it to the cart we had borrowed from U-Haul, and then lift it onto the truck. I helped. But barely.

I hadn’t thought to tell him about having to get it up the three flights of stair once we got to Brooklyn.

When we pulled onto my new street, it was already after 8 PM. And it was raining. We hustled and moved everything we could upstairs as fast as we could. The rain steadied as we began to wobble. I had hit that point during a move where giving up seems probable. I began leaving boxes and items on the street for passersby.

“How are we going to get the TV up three flights of stairs?” Todd asked me scratching his head.

“Us?” I answered stupidly.

“Are you kidding me?” He looked shocked. And he should have been. I couldn’t even hold the TV set let alone bring it up three flights of stairs.

“Missy and I rolled it into my DC apartment. Maybe we could do that?”

“UP the stairs? Roll it? Are you fucking crazy?”

I stood in the rain and kicked at nothing with my feet. I felt stupid in my new city. What was I thinking? Breaking up with him was a great move, but uprooting everything and moving to a new city was not the best way to be alone.

Todd went to the truck and got the TV out onto the sidewalk. The rain fell down onto its plastic casing. I didn’t care.

He lifted the TV up the three steps that led to the front door and stopped. “I can’t do this alone. There’s just no way.” He was out of breath.

We waited on the stoop in front of two propped open doors, which tossed 40 watt foyer light at us as the rain continued to fall. We were to meet friends for dinner in less than an hour. I was starving, cold and damp. I was tired from moving and driving all day. And it was suddenly becoming very clear to me that I had just uprooted my entire life—TV and all—and moved to New York City.

And that’s when I made up my mind. We had to breakup. This was going to be my third break up in 1 year.

“Let’s just leave it here. The fucking thing is too heavy. I hate how heavy it is. I don’t need a TV. I definitely don’t need that TV. I’m going to be too busy here and I can’t afford cable. Just leave it. Let it be somebody else’s problem. I’m sick of it.”

Just as I was getting to the meat of my sermon about how the TV and I weren’t meant to be together and that the TV and I never got along anyway, a 7-foot tall, muscular monster of a man walked up to the stoop.

“Can I help you?” The man said. He was German. “Looks like you could use help some.”

“You sure you want to do that? She’s on the third floor!” Todd answered.

“Not is problem.” He assured us. “It’s rain. Let’s go.”

And just like that, the gentle German giant and a friend named Todd brought the TV and I back together again.

That night we joked about whether or not our German was real.

(It’s been 8 years and I’m still not sure.)

On a day in September of 2001 I witnessed the worst day of my life so far. A month later (to the day) I met the man of my dreams. He and I were inseparable. We watched movies from my love seat. The first movie we ever watched together was “You Can Count On Me”.

We knew each other for three weeks before deciding to move into a loft together. The loft was roughly 4 blocks from that apartment, but it was zoned commercial and was on the fourth floor. There was a freight elevator but the hallways were long (almost a block from door to door).

I hired movers.

Moving day arrived. Three men showed up in a big white truck. One of the men was knee high to a grasshopper, Jamaican and dark as night. He was by no means someone I’d call muscular. The other two were much bigger in size. I worried about the smaller man. I worried about him right up until I watched him carry that TV set on his shoulders by himself down three flights of stair.

“He’s a fucking beast!” Said a taller man.

When we got to the loft, he carried it up into the freight elevator and then down the long hallway and into our loft.

I suggested twice that he be careful, that his back would surely break beneath that TV. He said, “Oh, you seely gurl, muh grandmummy could carry this TeeVee.” And he had a mighty chuckle. As did I.

I have for years wondered what would one day separate the two of us, take that TV down once and for all. After 2001 it moved back to DC and then again to another apartment in DC. In 2004 it was boxed up by movers and loaded into a wooden Door-to-Door Mover’s storage bin. It made it to San Francisco three weeks later unharmed.

Six months later it was loaded into a big wooden container once again and then shipped back to a slightly larger railroad apartment in Brooklyn where it has lived ever since.

My 10-year-old Toshiba died sometime late Sunday night. The last thing it saw was a member of the Colts fumble a football. I was in bed at the time. I heard Tobyjoe mutter a few OHMYGODS! at the TV. He then shut it down for the night. The next morning it projected nothing more than a thin white line.

Tobyjoe beat it a couple of times and it was able spit out one final image before taking its last breath. It projected a weather map of the United States.


  1. The Popcorn bowl September 9, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Great story. Love the flat line.


  2. There’s an awesome TV repair joint on 5th Ave (Brooklyn) somewhere around Baldwin I think. But you’re going to have to get that short mover dude to help you bring it in. They fixed my oldish Panasonic in 2 days for $90!


  3. If you choose to replace your tv with a flat screen, PLEASE mount it on the wall. Or put it on top of a very tall shelf/cabinet that is fixed to the wall. We have had so many problems with Jonah and our LCD TV. He actually pulled it and the chest of drawers it was standing on over, on top of him when he was about 18 months old. He still talks about the tv giving him an “owie-head”, a year later. Luckily for all of us, he only had a little cut, and the tv is only a 15 inch, so it wasn’t too heavy.


  4. Yeah, we were discussing this at great length with a few friends. We’re not going to be here long and so we won’t be mounting it here. But we are installing dog gates where the TV is. There’s an alcove where it goes, so we’ll block Em from there using the dog gates we purchased for something else. (They didn’t fit, so now we have them for this.)

    A boy died in our neighborhood that way, Wendy. :[ Pulled the TV down and it crushed him. I can think of nothing more terrible.

    Thanks for the warning. I am SO happy to hear your guy was OK! I can imagine how awful it must have been! (Em just fell off our bed for the first time. Scared the shit out of both of us. He was A OK tho.)


  5. What’s up with Sunday night, the killer of TVs? The same thing happened to mine! Fortunately for me, mine was the smaller bedroom version, and thus not quite as immovable as yours.


  6. Very strange. Is that when they simulated the Big Bang theory in England or wherever it was?

    WAS IT?!!!


  7. Nope, the proton accelerator thingie is happening today. One test happened at 7:30GMT, and I’m not sure about the proton colliding one. Haven’t read up on the news since this morning. But it appears that the world did not end, or dissolve into a big black hole. ;)

    Wow…the poor parents (and child of course) of that tv accident. I’m guessing Jonah could have broken a limb or something, from the chest that tipped over, but he was beside it, not in front of it. I was about 4 feet away and on my way to grab him away when he pulled it over. I guess I am getting used to the bumping, he has fallen down the stairs once or twice, although only 3 or 4 stairs at a time, fell off his bed last weekend, which traumatized him immensely, as it is quite high.


  8. I love this post!
    Creative and wonderful and personal nonfiction.
    There should be more like this in the world of blogs.


  9. Who knew the purchase of a TV could be so poetic? I loved this! You have this knack for taking the ordinary and turning it into something interesting and captivating. Thanks for sharing these thoughts with everyone :)


  10. OMG. The compliments and laughs and wow what a neat way to autobiographize JUST FLEW OUT OF MY MOUTH BECAUSE, HELL, I AM TOO BUSY RIGHT NOW RACING TO REMOVE THE TVs FROM MY HOME.

    Does the anxiety ever simmer down? Will I be a freaky neurotic for EVER? Because it’s been 4 months and I am wearing my ass down. He ain’t even mobile yet.

    Sweet Jesus. I did love your story, though.


  11. Gillian (sorry Mihow for hijacking your comments section!), I think the anxiety does go down to a low simmer eventually. My son is just over 2 years old, and I am usually conscious of where he is in the house, but I don’t worry nearly so much about every little thing. Our house is mostly baby-proofed, and he has had a few bumps and spills and survived them. Every child is interested in different things too. A friend of mine keeps her battery charger plugged in at child-level, and her daughter could care less. My son, on the other hand went straight for it, was removing batteries, pushing them back in, unplugging it…try to eat it..etc.


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