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Walking east on 34th St., right around the time I found out about Jim.

My neighbor Jim died last month some time. I’m not even sure of the day. He lived across the hall to the age of 83 or so and walking home tonight I thought about him. Jim and I always ran into each other…in the lobby, the hallway, walking our dogs, crossing a street. We’d stop and chat and he’d talk about the changing neighborhood or his wife who died not long after I moved into the building or some problem or other with the building. He engineered subway cars in the 50s or 60s, and had something to do with shale oil in Saskatchewan.

Jim liked beer and he really liked to shoot the shit. He wore big, thick glasses and in his last few years he had some kind of an eye problem and one eye looked off to the side. A lot of our conversations started out, “Did you hear about what they’re doing over on _______?” Or “Have you heard the one about… ?”

After his wife Ellen died, he took care of their old English sheepdog because “she’s Ellen’s dog.” When the dog became so old and frail, he’d pick her up to carry her outside and did all the things you do for old dogs. Jim was sharp, informed about everything, but more than anything, he was kind.

The last time I saw him, it was summer and Jim was walking on Amsterdam Avenue but he didn’t see me. I was in a hurry and I didn’t stop to talk. Hey Jim, what do you think about that monstrosity they’re putting up on Broadway & 77th? I’ll tell you what, he’d have said, it’s not the same neighborhood anymore.

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