Befriending your neighbors

Last night at around 9:45 p.m., I hit a wall. I’d been cleaning and tidying all evening and after completing one organization project I wasn’t sure I was ready to take on another.

Then my doorbell rung. Not the buzzer at the apartment entrance, but the bell right at my door. I shuffled over, wearing a crushed Mickey Mouse t-shirt and leggings.

It was my 13-year-old neighbor next door.

“My mom wanted me to ask you if you’d like to come over and join us for champagne?” I considered the invitation a miracle to my predicament. Then considered my outfit.

“Give me two minutes?”

Quickly I put on real pants, a shirt, and some lipstick and minutes later I was across the hall on our neighbor’s house, champagne in hand.

We were celebrating, and there were about 7 or 8 people crowded around the couch, the table and on the floor in a circle, friends and family alike. One girl had a ukulele and softly played music for us, while we munched on macaroons and cashews.

I noticed there was no television in their apartment. For the next hour, we chatted, sang, and took photos. It was the most chill party I’d been to in months. You don’t get that kind of homey feeling all that often anymore.

People tell me it’s rare to befriend your neighbors in New York City. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and in every apartment I’ve lived in so far, I’ve made a little more progress at it. Most recently, I’ve gotten better at it. It helps when you have a place where you can occasionally host people.

While inviting people to large parties or housewarmings is a good start, it’s often not enough.

It’s these little moments, the times when someone carries a package up the stairs for you, when you bump into someone on the street, or when you celebrate with them over some bubbly, that rally solidifies a neighborly bond.

It feels good to know we live among people who sometimes invite us into their homes and share their stories with us. After all, we live in such close proximity, it’d be a shame to never know more than someone’s apartment number.