Eryn Loeb | Longreads | March 2018 | 16 minutes (3,988 words)

The whole reason I had the rent-stabilized apartment on East 13th Street was because my aunt lived in it before me. Leslie first rented the place in 1981, when she was 23, for $345 a month. In the early ’90s she left and moved to Seattle, but kept the lease in her name. When I was looking for a place to land after college, she was quick to kick out a random subletter and turn the place over to me. The subletter, a tiny Japanese woman who was running an illicit hair salon out of the kitchen, had staple-gunned bed sheets up throughout the place as makeshift room dividers. The effect, when I first came to check out the place and negotiate her exit, was a kind of diaphanous claustrophobia.

The apartment was a dingy, naturally repellent kind…

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