A little 'love thy neighbor'.

Once in a while something happens that reminds me that although I live in New York City, this town can be just as small as any other. Today, I ran into not one, but three people I know--all in my neighborhood. One in particular, Anthony, has a special place in my heart.

Anthony is an elderly man who lives in a ground-level apartment that, to anyone who doesn't know better, appears to be a pawn shop. His front, storefront-style windows are large and filled with trinkets and yes, like any pawn shop, a bit of junk. Almost every night, Anthony brings his cordless phone outside, sets a chair on the sidewalk, opens his front door and blasts Frank Sinatra, while sitting on the street talking to friends and strangers. Every night. The fluorescent heart in the window gets turned on and sheds a hot pink light on the knickknacks he's collected in his window: model cars, a Bill Clinton bobble head, old-fashioned signs.

Even though we got some stares, Anthony's stoop had to make an appearance in our engagement photos.

He knows me well enough to ask what I'm making for dinner, and has taken to calling me "honey". To be called that by any other man would result in a dirty look. But a Rat Pack-era gentleman who is balding and slightly hunched? He gets a smile. He comments that I'm always carrying groceries, he asks for Brian and he notices a new tattoo or haircut. "Hiya, honey," he says, every night.

I can't articulate how much I look forward to those two little words.

I'm grateful that someone as unassuming as my neighbor can remind me of one of the most important lessons: Relate to others. Some things--like laughing, dancing, crying and even the smile that follows taking a bite of delicious food--are universal.  It's surprisingly easy to blaze your own trail, tackle your own dreams and go at it alone. But it's so much easier and gratifying to do it with friends at your side.

After all, we're all neighbors and everyone can use a "Hiya, honey," once in a while.

Courtesy of 6bittersweets.com
I've been thinking about baking Anthony some biscotti to accompany his sidewalk cup of coffee, since he's always curious about what's cooking. Click here for a great recipe with a boost of summer flavor thanks to the addition of oranges. De.Lic.Ious.

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