I’ve had some pretty bizarre neighbors in the past: a young gangster who constantly fought with his girlfriend and would get scared when she threatened to call his mom, a French woman who always lamented that the gay guy who lived in the building was not in love with her, and a sensitive, doe-eyed drug dealer who lived with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.

How times have changed.

Sebastien and I really lucked out with the neighbors we have today. They’re a family from North Carolina and they embody the phrase Southern hospitality. The husband, Mike, sometimes shovels the snow on the front steps for the entire building and every few weeks their daughter will knock on our door with cupcakes or whoopie pies or freshly baked bread. It’s a strange ritual that neither Sebastien or I am accustomed to, but of course we accept it. Because who wouldn’t accept free dessert? In return, I’ve attempted to bake some of my own neighborly treats. Save for a few minor mishaps (like accidentally baking the plastic handled scissors and using 2 cups of baking soda instead of 2 cups of flour) they enjoy the food I make.

We also get together for dinners and game nights and housesit one another’s pets when the other is out of town. We’ve gotten so close over the past couple of years that come time to renew our leases we plan on apartment hunting together. I know it’s unlikely that we will be able to find suitable apartments right next to one another in the city, but we have to find a way. This family is our only chance of becoming real adults. Sure we could read books on the subject or watch a bunch of Lifetime movies, but why do that when we’ve got the real deal living mere feet away–literally.

As Grown-ups In Training Sebastien and I are learning through trial and error. There was the time we all decided to get breakfast together and planned on meeting in the building hallway at 9:10. I cracked my eyes open at 9 that morning and shook Sebastien awake. “We have to go, we have to get ready,” I said. I couldn’t believe that we were failing our first big assignment and I was afraid that this family was going to give up on us, much like Sebastien’s and my grade school teachers did years ago.

I managed to get ready in 3 minutes, but Sebastien took his time. When the knock on the door came I knew it was too late. We were found out as just a bunch of hacks, wannabe adults. Tamy laughed it off and said that Mike was already in line at the restaurant. I jotted down a quick note about how adults show up early for things and then we headed out the door.

To make up for our blunder I decided to invite them over for dessert one night. I made a pumpkin pie from scratch and Sebastien came home with ice cream and whipped cream. We even had enough clean glasses to offer them water or tea or milk. Everything was going so well until Mike asked for a napkin. I wiped my ice cream covered mouth with my shirt sleeve and looked up at him, perplexed. Melted ice cream was dripping off of his plate and down his arm. He looked desperate and feared dripping on our already stained rug. “We don’t have any paper towels,” I said. “You want some toilet paper?”

Fortunately our teacher, I mean Tamy, ran downstairs and grabbed a roll of paper towels. At the end of the night when I was handing it back to her she told us to keep it. “You guys need it more than us,” she said.

We’re slow learners, but we’re getting there. Whenever the neighbors pop over they don’t have to worry about seeing my bras and underwear strewn about the apartment or week-old dishes rotting in the sink. We clean all that now. Or just hide it up in the loft and cover up the smell with air freshener.  So if anyone hears of 2 apartments for rent next to one another, please do let me know. Or I’m sure we would all get along in a really big apartment like the family in Full House.



About JadedBride

Amy Kraft is a print and radio journalist based in New York. Her work has appeared in publications including Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, The Week, Psychology Today, and Distillations, a podcast out of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She is currently working on a book of humor essays. View all posts by JadedBride

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