• crystalmulligan submitted a contest entry to Group logo of Write a letter to a stranger who positively impacted your lifeWrite a letter to a stranger who positively impacted your life 1 month, 1 week ago

    Part of My Story

    Dear Stranger,

    While I never knew your name, I always felt I knew you. I always felt like there was something you had to teach me. I think of our encounters fondly and often. You see when I moved into my apartment I wanted a sense of community. I wanted to know my neighbors, in typical New York fashion they didn’t seem to want to know me. That is until I ran into you.

    I would see you in the courtyard and quickly walk past, having been jaded and used to this as a routine with other passing by neighbors. Yet you were different. You would smile and I would smile back.

    I would often see you in the early morning when I was leaving for work, it was always just us in the courtyard. I had begun to think you were a figment of my imagination, a spirit of some sort that only I could see. Sometimes my imagination goes a little wild. I pictured that you were someone here to guide me, teach me, tell me something. Maybe you had lived in the apartment and tended to this garden years before and now in your afterlife continue to do so. Or was this farmland at some point where you raised horses and chickens? That was until I saw you conversing with another neighbor of ours. One who gave me a tip on parallel parking that at the time I was very insulted by him giving me. Now I must admit I use it and think of him nearly every time I parallel park. So either we were collectively experiencing your ghost or you were real. Wait, was he a ghost too?

    One of the first times we actually spoke was a beautiful spring morning. I saw you looking up at the sky. I was curious but said nothing. You stopped me; “I just love looking up through the trees, the way the sun moves through the branches is just beautiful.” I stopped and looked up with you, briefly, and moved about my day.

    We had a few interactions after this one. You would comment on the beautiful weather or the way the moon lights up the sky. You would hold the door for me as I walked in from work. I once helped carry some cases of water. You, me and, parking guy would stand on the stoop and talk about how packages were being taken again. Neighborly things.

    From you I learned to stop, to slow down. To look around at nature. There is so much beauty surrounding us and in so many different ways. I often stop and look up through the trees. You really do get a different perspective. The moon does light the sky so beautifully, and in a different way in each phase. This spring I noticed the first flowers peeking up from the grass, long before I ever would have years ago. I saw them grow over the weeks, something I never have seen but has always been in front of me.

    From you I learned that what you’re looking for will find you if you just remain open. The community I wanted and relationships I was seeking was there all along. I had closed myself off and missed opportunities to interact with you because I had been rejected by others. I imagine you have been rejected so many times before, even by me. You taught me to be the person you want to meet.
    We never even exchanged names yet you’ve impacted my life so profoundly. It makes me think about every interaction I have. How you are a part of stories you don’t even realize you are. Over the years of living there we may have exchanged 100 words. Yet in those interactions and 100 words I have learned so much. You have completely changed the way in which I view the world around me.

    This morning I stopped and looked up through the tree. The cherry blossoms are starting to fall, the branches some bare and some donned with the prettiest pink flowers, illuminated by the sunlight. I stood there thinking there’s some type of metaphor here about the balance between death and life or quality vs quantity. Or maybe that’s just my imagination trying to work again. Either way it made me smile. As the sunlight came through the branches and warmed my face the thought of you and our interactions warmed my heart.

    Sincerely and warmly,

    A Grateful Former Neighbor

    Crystal Mulligan

    Voting starts August 16, 2023 12:00am

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    • Your heartfelt letter beautifully captures the essence of human connection and the impact we can have on each other’s lives, even in the briefest of encounters. It’s a testament to the power of kindness, curiosity, and openness.

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