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.
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.