The night before the Jonga family’s departure, the apartment is empty, except for their luggage in a corner of the bedroom. Neni has given Betty, Fatou, Winston, and Maami her household items. She gave Natasha her unworn kabas. The new tenants arrive with Mr. Charles, their landlord, to see the apartment. They’re a young couple in their early to mid-twenties who are “pretty, giddy, [and] white, with matching long hair.” They’ve just left Detroit and are in pursuit of music careers. They ask Neni about the best place to order Thai or Chinese takeout late at night. Though Neni is tempted to resent them, they offer to buy her bed for twice what someone else offered online, and they pay her in cash.
Neni initially wants to dislike the young couple because she envies their carefree demeanors and their ability, it seems, to go where they want and to do what they please, in pursuit of their dreams. Their question about takeout is oblivious of the fact that the Jongas can’t afford takeout. The couple’s move into the apartment is a sign of gentrification in Harlem, when low-income people like the Jongas would slowly be pushed out by younger people with more money who can’t afford to live in Manhattan.
With all of the bags packed and the travel clothes laid out, Neni looks out the window, thinking of what she may have forgotten to do. She’s forgotten nothing. She said goodbye to everyone. Now, she wants to go to sleep, wake up, shower, get the children ready, pick up her luggage, and leave.
Neni wants to hurry her trip along because the anticipation makes her feel worse about returning to a life that she doesn’t want.