Expecting the very best

'My father told me never to trust anyone," announced my landlady one day in her kitchen, between sips of tea. I don't remember exactly what precipitated her telling me that—it may have been the time she learned that I had a new boyfriend, or the day she heard an extra pair of footsteps in our upstairs apartment and suspected my roommate and I had secretly taken on a third tenant to reduce the rent. We hadn't, but it wasn't easy convincing her.

Despite her cynicism, my landlady had a good heart. She'd invite us downstairs for tea and cookies in her kitchen, where we laughed and chatted about everything from old films stars (a favorite topic of hers) to the latest news. And at the end of every year, we'd get an invitation to get together by the blinking lights of her Christmas tree for snacks, and to exchange gifts.

January 10, 2005

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