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<b> Hi, Neighbor! </b> | A Village Deep Inside the Heart of New York City
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Hi, Neighbor! | A Village Deep Inside the Heart of New York City

Kindness, consideration and generosity in the time of COVID-19.

New York City has a strange ambiguity. It holds an immense amount of people who can breathe and live in the same rhythm but have no time to get to know one another. At least not in a traditional manner.

It took eight years and a pandemic to learn the name of my neighbor. He has been living on the floor above me for quite a while. The cracking floors and the old and thin walls unwillingly told me so much about him. A person, I have never met but known so well. Listening to him was maddening at times, strangely comforting at others. One morning his alarm went off at five in the morning but he couldn’t wake up. Instead, I did. And I gently knocked on the ceiling to let him know it is time…

The gentle knock was returned.

By mid-March, the city was in a dire situation because of COVID-19. Eventually, most of us stayed home at all times. I developed a mild cough, and the old walls were telling a tale again—this time about me. Soon after, there was a knock on my door. It was my upstairs neighbor, holding a zip lock bag and a handwritten note. He introduced himself, and we talked for a few minutes. He offered help, in case I fell ill and gave me a mask he had sewn himself.

Home-made mask - a gift from my New York City neighbor

Hello, ghost! It is nice to meet you finally!

The mask is a double-layered cotton mask with a pocket inside, to add extra filters. It covers the face well, comes up over the nose and below the chin with secure straps. It was a well-thought-out gift that was greatly appreciated.

Do you have a sewing machine? Here are some helpful tips on how to make a mask for yourself, or for your neighbor. 😉

Village girl at heart. 

I grew up in a tiny village in Hungary. We often knew way too much about each other in the community. I was not a fan; I prefer privacy. New York City, however, is the other extreme. Lately, as most people stay home, a new sense of community emerged. We reach out and offer help. We check on our neighbors. Isolation dissolves for a few minutes, while we make noise in our windows to show gratitude, every day at 7 pm. We wave to each other from a distance. It makes me smile every time. As much as I want this episode to end, I will be sad to see this part go. I admit, I secretly hope that this new sense of community will linger on, at least for a while. 

Like a beautiful, lively human puzzle, we only make sense when connected.

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