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.