It’s Just My Way

I’ve befriended my 80 year-old neighbor across the hall.  Truth be told, I tried making friends with everyone on my floor, but Mimi was the only one who responded.

“I want you to know I moved into the building in 1954,” she said, with a back so straight you could bounce tennis balls off it.

Since that was the year I was born, I took it as an omen.  It’s the Italian in me.

Every time I run into her she says, “I have a cold and afraid I’m contagious,” covering her mouth as if it was more like TB.

Since then, she’s left a little cactus plant by my door with her number and email, so I’ve called every day to see if she needs anything.

“I’d love a can’a coffee,” she wrote in an email. “Maxwell House will do.”

So I happily ran to the market to fetch and carry adding cough drops and a half dozen  navel oranges I left by her door.

A week went by and no Mimi sightings.  I asked Felix the doorman if he’d seen her and he said, “Sure, every day,” so I knew she was okay.

Then I left a rose with a note saying I was thinking of her, but still, no Mimi.

The next time I saw her waiting for the elevator, she said, ” You’re such a nice girl, but no more gifts.  I’m overwhelmed and a little unnerved by your generosity.”

I took pause like always when someone politely rejects my good intentions and said, “It’s just my way Mimi, it’s just who I am, “before disappearing into the safety of my apartment feeling sad the very best part of me, once again, was shunned rather than embraced.

Oh well.   images




About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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22 Responses to It’s Just My Way

  1. Being elderly—and likely somewhat fearful of our even crazier world now—she may just be overly guarded. What you did was wonderful, Susannah. Stay friendly, and whenever you see her your smile and politeness will win her over in time. How could it not. :O)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. micklively says:

    Remember how you greet a strange staffie? You don’t dive in and rough him up; you let him sniff the back of your hand first, and process his olfactory protocols. Then, when he’s comfortable, you can try a gentle ear rub.
    Old folk don’t like change. I think you two will be good friends, but you can’t force it. It will take time. She has to get used to you first. Then take things apace, and all will be well.
    Remember: you don’t get to eighty without being bitten a time or two!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, is it possible that she feels she can’t reciprocate? Or she may simply be like a friend of mine who absolutely hates getting/opening gifts. I remember how hurt, embarrassed, and rejected I felt the first time one of my gifts was refused. Once we got past the no gift rule we’ve been good friends ever since – 35+ years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She did leave me that cactus. I never understand the discomfort giving often brings since I accept everything with grace and glee. When I was in my 20s however, that wasn’t the case and for me it was about anger and lack of self-worth. I don’t think this woman sturdy as an oak tree with plenty of means, has a self-esteem issue. I’m not one’s usual neighbor. I have no desire to infiltrate her life, but I’m old-fashioned…I believe in Love Thy Neighbor as in, if you’re unwell, need a little help…I’m here.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Elle Knowles says:

    Hmmm? Interesting. She reached out with the cactus first it seems and then froze…if you left a note at her door suggesting you need coffee I wonder what she’d do. I just want to grow old graciously and enjoy every bit of love and concern that is thrown my way, reciprocating whenever possible. I’d be a very attentive neighbor I think. ~Elle

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re a very attentive blogger, if that’s any indication. I have no rational explanation for her push and pull behavior. There’s a 12 Step slogan I like…don’t take it personally, even if has your name on it. Easier said than done, but it one could hone it, would make things much less painful. Thanks for writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loretta says:

    So much has changed these days which is such a shame. Your generosity may be misconstrued. Perhaps checking on her every so often might do the trick, but at least she could have been upfront with you instead of doing the disappearing act. God Bless you for your thoughtfulness, if only there were more people around who cared for the elderly. I happen to have a soft spot for them too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think Mick’s advice was good. Let her sniff you and get comfortable with you. From her perspective maybe you seemed needy or like a stalker. It’s drummed into older folks to be suspicious of very friendly strangers. Your building doesn’t sound all that friendly. You are an anomaly!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I do believe she is just being cautious. Elderly people are badass, but on their terms…they’ve earned that right. I bet she thinks she gave you the wrong idea. Once the weather breaks, and you see her more often it will be different. You’ll probably be be making friendship bracelets by Summer.

    Liked by 1 person

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