Living in New York City is never easy

Living in New York City is never easy. Finding a good apartment that you can afford tops the list of challenges. After all the struggles of locking in our perfect first apartment, the last thing we expected was a crazy neighbor. Our first encounter with her was a yelling match between the man delivering our dinner who buzzed the wrong apartment. But long before we met her, we met her cats who freely roamed the hallways of our building and brought their lovely smells with them.

I knew there had to be more to the story so I started stopping to chat with her when I saw her in the halls, bringing her cookies on occasion and eventually she invited me in. She was also a hoarder which made sitting in her apartment a bit uncomfortable, but she not only opened her door but her heart as well. Through this woman’s story, I quickly learned how life can wear you down, and in an isolated city like New York, something as simple as a “hello” and a smile can make someone’s day.

She had her struggles that were expressed in ways that were initially off-putting, but learning her story opened my eyes to the fact that people–all people–just need to be loved. Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone to do that, but by simple acts and by showing continued interest in her life, I got to be that person for her. I have seen her transform over this last year from the angry cat lady downstairs to a smiling, friendly neighbor whom I love.

Alison Castillo