A former colleague of my brother’s recently called him to ask if he was, by any chance, related to someone by my name. My brother informed him (nervously, I am sure) that that person was his sister. “Well, tell her I have some of her mail,” came the reply.
The colleague, it turned out, owned my home. In his view, and that of the law, it was now his home. Someone had even owned it between us. But in my mind, that apartment on the fourth floor of an Art Deco building in Washington Heights would always be mine: the entrance hallway a lipstick red, the sunken living room a sunny shade Benjamin Moore called an ivory that was really bright yellow, the galley kitchen forever smelling of onions sautéing in olive oil, “The Daily Show” playing, every weeknight at 11, on the television in the pale green office that overlooked the southern border of the Bronx.
Instead of worrying me, it made me happy that the mailman, apparently, was under the same impression. I moved out of Washington Heights in 2006, but my mail lingered, more loyal to the apartment than I was.