As I’m sure you’ve all heard, New York suffered a blow last week. As I sit here and type in the comfort of my apartment, there are candles burning and a hot mug of tea within arm’s reach. Another storm is coming, and the raindrops outside my window seem unable to decide whether they’ll turn to snow, but I’m warm and fed and still at work. Our neighborhood is on a hill and due to the luck of geography and circumstance, we came out of the storm virtually unscathed. For so many others in this city and along this seaboard, the situation is less cozy. For many, it’s downright devastating.
There is comfort to be found though. Comfort in neighbors. It’s a tricky thing to write about, and I don’t mean to suggest that there aren’t troubles that will need more than a helpful neighbor to solve. There are. But the generosity that folks are able to muster in the face of adversity is awe-inspiring.
More even than the truly heroic gestures of service and volunteerism—the buses filled with supplies, the hot meals being served at shelters, the day-long efforts to clean up debris— I’ve been struck by the importance of the littlest things. Across the river in Manhattan, the hurricane left my 90 year-old cousin up nine flights and without a working elevator, not to mention heat or hot water. She couldn’t easily make the trek to our place, so we went to her, walking across Brooklyn Bridge to pay her a visit before the subways came back online. She seemed to miss her newspaper delivery more than anything, so we toted copies of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal along with yogurt and bananas.
While my sister and I sat chatting in her apartment, her doorbell rang three times. Each time a different neighbor was there, wanting to make sure that she was doing okay, that she had what she needed. These neighbors didn’t bring gifts or stay for cups of tea, but they checked in. It’s the checking in and letting people know that you’re looking out for them that matters most of all.
If you do anything at all this week, make sure it’s to say hello to your neighbors. You never know when you’ll need each other. If you’re able, the Red Cross is currently taking donations for Hurricane Relief here. Every little bit counts.