Thursday, July 22, 2021

The memories remain



The people who bought my Aunt Winnie apartment after she died in 2014 did a gut renovation of the place and now, six years later, the apartment is once again for sale. There are photos of its renovated interior on all the real estate websites that serve New York City, and my children, my cousins, and I are simply flabbergasted at how different the place appears. I look deeply into the photos and can find barely a trace of the shared family joys that were nurtured and spent in that space, nor of the ordinary tragedies that played out there. If you've been reading here for a while, you've definitely seen the before photos of this apartment—the first place I lived when I came to New York City for college in the late seventies. For our family's record, I'm posting the after photos here. "Why does looking at these pictures make me so sad?" I texted my cousin Karen. "It makes me sad too," she wrote back. "They erase the essence of Aunt Winnie and Uncle Charlie and every memory that was made within those walls. Now they only live on in our minds, and that too will not last forever." My daughter agreed. "So many memories there," she echoed. "It's so weird to know all the spots our life happened in these photos."





Here are some posts that show us in the apartment before.

Cooking with Grandma

Peace & Grands

Selling Apartment 18F

And here's a photo of some family members in the living room of the apartment after we laid Aunt Winnie to rest. It was the last time we would gather there as a family, and we all knew it. And so we sat in a circle and told stories of our lives in that place, with Aunt Winnie and Uncle Charlie, who paved the way for us all.







13 comments:

  1. I love that your aunt and uncle were a jumping off point into the city, and that you and your husband have continued that tradition. The depth and breadth of your family is a gift.

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  2. There is such a stark difference between the warmth of your old photos and the unbelievable cold chill of the apartment now. It's really surprising how weirdly different it is.

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  3. Big white eraser went through that apartment! Cosy factor and soft light removed too. Glad you all got to gather there before it became a clinic. No, really, too much glaring white paint, like an operatory. Shocking.

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  4. Aunt Winnie, the apartment and all that it meant to you and your family will live on with you forever. It is part of your loving and supportive family fabric. Not all families have a support system like yours. The apartment is certainly no longer the same. That said, you seem to be carrying on Aunt Winnie's legacy and strong family bond. I'm impressed. Family is everything, I just wish everyone felt that way...

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  5. I get it. This hurts MY heart.

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  6. Looks like Ikea room settings. Modern decor appears to wipe out any human clutter and personality.

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  7. It is painful to see what was once a beloved family home turned into what looks more like a suite of rooms in a hotel where no one stays for very long.

    The love I see and feel in the old photos of your Aunt Winner and Uncle Charlie with family has clearly moved forward into the welcoming home where you and your beloved man have made so many memories for your children and extended family. Such an enduring love. It is there in the old photos taken in Jamaica. Where there is a great capacity for love, there is also a great capacity for grief and loss. Sending love always.

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  8. White walls is what people seem to like. I have no idea why.

    I'm glad you had your Aunt and Uncle to care for you when you went to New York. Love the photos. I always thought New York was an amazing place because people lived in apartments and I didn't know anyone who lived in an apartment. Strange how children think.

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  9. all that white and minimalist crap makes for a cold and uncomfortable, unwelcoming place. give me soft cushy warm and full of love.

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  10. Wow. It is very, very white now, isn't it? Of course it makes you sad to see all the coziness erased. I agree with Linda Sue- it does look like an operating room now. What do you suppose Aunt Winnie would say? Would she cry? Would she laugh? Would she give a rueful shrug?
    All I can say is that the walls do hold memories. They stand witness, their eyes are not covered over with that paint. The floors are still underneath there, remembering the feet that came and went, danced across them. Just as the walls and floors of the hearts of all of you who found refuge and celebration there do.

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  11. You have your memories and photos to remind you of how it was. Most importantly you have all the good feelings that your family instilled in you. Really the place could have been another apartment, a different home... it is the people that made the difference in your life.
    What a beautiful location they had, tho, the view is great!

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  12. It's so disconcerting to see a meaningful space dramatically transformed (and somewhat sterilized). It lives in your memories and in your photos, though, and in the memories of many others, too.

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  13. Ow, not really inviting, thinking of all the "accidents" life has to offer white furnishings.
    One of my nieces works in real estate in Dublin and she had extensive training on how to photograph images of property, nothing is like the real thing, she claims.
    I am so glad you have your own memories!

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