One of my Forty Acts goals (and just general life goals) is to meet more of my neighbors. I’ve lived in the same apartment in LA since 2010 and I only know a handful of people that live in my building.

Recently I’ve made friends with a young boy named Samuel and his father Melesse, who live just two units away on my floor. I notice them coming in and out of the building with their bikes and always smile and wave. I finally took a second to introduce myself to Samuel a couple weeks ago and since then, we’ve become super fast friends.



Samuel is from Ethiopia. He moved here less than a year ago, though his parents and sister moved to my building five years ago. Samuel stayed back in Ethiopia with his brother during that time while his parents were getting a sense of the United States. His brother is famous in Ethiopia, part of the groupĀ Jano Band. I’ve been listening to Jano Band lately, check them out, their music is awesome!

We really hit it off in terms of movies. Samuel speaks excellent English and he credits it to the American movies which were “like his best friends growing up.” He knows way more than I do about cinematic classics, despite the fact that I studied film in college… when I told him that in film school, your homework is to watch movies, he was pretty blown away. (Don’t tell my parents that’s what my tuition paid for!)

Samuel is ambitious, he studies hard at high school and wants to go to Princeton. But he told me he wants to eventually go back to Ethiopia, even though he likes the US. He wants to give back to his country. “What is life if you don’t serve?” he said.



Samuel, Melesse, and I spent a lovely afternoon together this weekend. Samuel made some delicious sweet tea and we talked about our lives. Melesse showed me his sketch book (he’s awesome at sketching horses and lions, among other things) and his official citizenship certificate which he just received on his 67th birthday. I gave Samuel some of my text books from film school and this month when he gets a laptop from his high school, we’re going to start writing some screenplays together.

Despite the fifty year age difference between Samuel and his father, when Melesse was out of the room, Samuel told me he and his dad are best friends. All that love and new friendship and sweet tea behind one door…I can’t wait to continue hanging out with Samuel and Melesse, and start knocking on a few more doors!


Written by Erica

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