Living in an apartment building is a curious phenomenon. You feel so intimately connected to your neighbors because (in our building at least), you can hear them talking on the phone, vacuuming, even sneezing. However, it's a rare occasion when you actually have a conversation or even find out a neighbor's first name.
Unless, of course, you lock yourself out of your apartment, as I did today. I was home alone and still in my pjs (pink and green striped pajama pants and some sort of Patriots t-shirt that I think my husband won at a bar), when I decided to run out into the hallway to throw garbage down the chute. And then... the stomach-turning realization that the door had closed behind me and I had locked myself out. There I was, at 3:30 in the afternoon, in my pajamas, barefoot... no phone, no friends....I felt as if I were on a desert island with no ship on the horizon. Alex, my husband, would be no help, as he's in Amsterdam at the moment. Then, the horrible realization set in that I'd have to rely on the kindness of strangers; I'd have to reach out to one of my neighbors. There was no other choice. Either that, or sit outside my door until Alex comes home on Sunday.
I made my way down to the lobby of our building and within seconds, a woman arrived at the door. I opened it for her and said hello, I could tell she was already suspicious. She lent me her cell phone, from which I made the following calls 1) to mom, of course, although there was really no way she could help in this situation. But it felt good to hear her voice 2) to Alex, to get the landlord's number 3) to my dear landlord, who by the grace of god, keeps a spare set of keys to my apartment at his work, which is about 10 minutes from where I live. He came over and was able to let me in. And I'm sure he was left with an indelible memory of my pajamas.
But the true hero of the day is Audrey, the lovely woman in apartment 3-2 who lent me her cell phone and invited me up to her apartment to save me the embarrassment of pacing despondently in the lobby, pajama clad. Audrey, by the way, has a beautiful apartment and had the table set beautifully for a dinner party she is having tonight. The table was set at 3:30! I can just imagine what she thought of her barefoot neighbor who still had not changed out the clothes she had slept in the night before.
I'm planning on dropping by and bringing her a bottle of wine to thank her for helping me out. And maybe, just maybe, one day I'll be invited to one of her fabulous dinner parties.