A former boss who has given me oodles of invaluable advice about how to join the illustrious ranks of The Street Smart also gave me two blemished pieces of guidance: (1) Don’t ever date a guy you wouldn’t marry; and (2) When you’re living in New York, never socialize with the people in your building. The latter caveat is largely why I’ve maintained a friendly distance from my in-building neighbors, and could be why most of them have done the same with me. We dutifully follow so many rules.
There’s a unique and authentically sociable person who lives down the hall from me. Semi-regularly running into her is a treat. The Midwesterner in me has always said, “She’s really nice and interesting. You two should do lunch and get to know each other a little better.” The New Yorker in me said, “Don’t even think about it, girl. Keep that guard up. You’ve already got your crowd.”
It took awhile, but I allowed the softer, saner instincts to prevail. The upshot was a delightful brunch at a local eatery, an equally compelling stroll through the park, and a better sense of what I’ve been missing out on all these years this neighbor and I have shared a floor of over-priced rental property.
When many adults reach a certain age or station in life, they stop letting new people in, unless it’s for family- or business-related purposes. I’m all about the kind of downsizing that involves letting go of the ones who turn out not to have your best interests anywhere near their hearts. But my own evolving street-smart advice is to keep auditioning every receptive new person you have a natural chemistry with or curiosity about, the way you might try out an alluring new restaurant. Ideally at the alluring new restaurant.