What “Doing Life Together” Looks Like

By Beatrix Tafoya

Photo by Mackenzie Warren

Photo by Mackenzie Warren

Ugh. Hanging up after a third epic phone call with a rude UPS tracking agent, I was grappling with the reality that my two air conditioners were stuck in a holding facility in the Bronx and it was likely going to take a precious afternoon of my life to fetch them. All because the UPS drivers in my neighborhood don’t feel like ringing buzzers. Never mind the fact I had carved out an entire day to await the delivery.

After pacing my sweaty apartment, I worked on a plan to retrieve the two large and extremely heavy packages. Problem was, my plan was going to require another person to give up their precious afternoon as well. I knew just who to call.

Danielle is just down the block. Her books scattered around our apartment are daily reminders of her place in our lives. We will read each one of them eventually; there’s no particular rush. When we hear a little click of the door, we assume Danielle must have invited herself over. When she calls in a certain mood, I know the exact overlook where she sits. A day or two ago my sweet daughter exclaimed: “Mom, you’re making a Danielle-face!” 

RECOGNIZING A FRIEND

She was someone who would help me shoulder the load — a treasure of a friend in a city of busy people. The silhouettes of the city can crumple us into the fetal position. Processing the pain and needs of so many humans becomes exhausting. Friends come and go with such frequency. We scroll through our contacts and literally cannot remember how these forgotten folks attained their dwelling places in our phones. If we were really being honest, the ones we do attempt to connect with are those who can somehow benefit us.

We brunch with peers but yearn for depth that can’t be manufactured over mimosas. New York may be far from home, but we can create family here if we really want to. Maybe we need to risk a little more.

I’ll never forget the day I got the call that my 90-year-old neighbor, Anita, had passed away. I was a little surprised by my deep sorrow. I began reflecting on how much we had shared together: doctor visits, ConEd battles, bran muffins, and fashion advice over tar-black coffee. It wasn’t really my intention to grow so fond of this frail woman I met in the elevator. Her words said it all, handing me her precious china, “...You’re all I have left.” Grief was a reminder to me that relationships are expensive, but they are worth it.

THE ONES IN FRONT OF US

We try so hard to pick the right people that we nearly miss the ones right in front of us. I wonder if we don’t see them because they don’t look or talk like us. What if we challenged ourselves to notice those we would normally dismiss? Could it be that fighting about the best way to load the dishwasher or celebrating a legit parking spot is the key to growing deeper with one another? After all, quality time is the result of quantity time. 

Danielle is closer to my daughter by age, but has become my dear friend.  Maybe UPS had it right all along. That time with Danielle was the package that kept on giving.

Beatrix Tafoya has lived in New York for nearly twenty years. She’s convinced you’ll stay where you’re loved and leave where you’re not. She and her family are committed to staying until they’re all out of people to love.