Dead People’s Things

La Voz de Galicia – October 28, 2022 →

Cristina PatoIn my New York neighborhood it is typical than when someone leaves a rented apartment, they leave things on the street with a little sign saying «Take Me.» Sometimes these items last less than a minute on the sidewalk, and I confess that some things in my apartment come precisely from there, including a beautiful collection of vinyls…And sometimes one intuits that the things on the street belong to someone who has died and lived alone because suddenly one finds pieces of a person’s life one didn’t know: old photographs, paintings, some letter or postcard inside a book…Books are what appear most on the street in the West Village, full boxes where I could spend hours looking through, with Xan next to me reminding me that we live in a closet and that more books do not fit at home.

This week, Alisa’s apartment was emptied; she was my first-floor neighbor who died suddenly a few months ago. They left her things in the hallway before leaving them on the street, and even though it was not the first time I looked through a dead person’s belongings, it was the first time I did it with the belongings of someone I somewhat knew, and in that process I wondered so many things about her solitary life, about me…Sitting on the floor, choosing among her drawings (Alisa was an artist), I began to think about what I would do if my things were to also end up like that, on the floor, awaiting a «reincarnation» in another home…And then I took an engraving from 1981 signed by her, and spent the afternoon looking for a special place for that small masterpiece that, at that moment, became the living memory of all those who lived in the building and have died…Because in the seventeen years that I have lived here, I felt the deaths of several, many of them artists, all of them alone…

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