Updated: Sep 8, 2020
she had been gone already for more than two decades. The letters of her name adorned the second half of the metal nameplate across from our three room flat in central Tel Aviv. The first half was the commonplace "Isaac". Below it, the name they shared: Erdenbaum. And an odd turn of events left their apartment as it was, empty of all furniture and belongings, except the items we would find in the walls.
Like many historic buildings in Tel Aviv, our crumbling beauty at the corner of Mazeh and Yehuda HaLevi streets, one block from Rothschild Boulevard, was slated for preservation. Typically, contractors will undertake the painstaking renovations in exchange for the rights to add a couple of stories to the standard three. They are required to adhere to original blueprints for all external features, from original wooden shutters to the painted ceramic floors in the entrance.
So when we moved in in the Spring of 2016, we did so with the knowledge that we could be removed by the owners at any time with just 8 weeks notice so that renovations could begin. This made our rented space feel even more precious and tenuous than any home that isn't yours. We lived there in Apartment 6, an arm's reach from the vacant, silent and shuttered Apartment 5, knowing it could end at any moment. And then one day, a man with a hammer came to open our neighbor's door.