We sat at a particular table on the balcony — or two or three tables pushed together — for nearly all our meals, past the time of year when it was really too cold to be eating meals outside, for the better part of my last three years of college.
It was a safe place, a cheerful place, a place, as I thought, for anyone who didn’t belong at the “cool” tables inside. Later, I learned that others had looked out through the glass wall and seen us a group, quite as impenetrable as the one at the “cool” table. In the heart of that group, I had supposed we were simply the place for all the people who didn’t have a place. That’s what I wanted us to be.
There were times when I felt connected there: that it was my place, they were my people. There were other times, when I sat there surrounded by all of them and felt that chasms divided us. There were rarer times when those chasms were too much, and I took myself, by myself, to a table around the corner, where they wouldn’t see me.
When you feel lonely, company doesn’t always help.
But I think, sometimes, of how much “lonely” has to do with us and how little it has to do with other people, much of the time. I think of how we see impenetrable groups where those who form the group see always enough room for one more squeezed-in chair, one more person needing a place. I think of how, no matter how hard you love a person, you can’t make them unlonely.
But, oh, be careful how you make your groups: work hard to help others see what you see. If there is always room for another chair, look for the people who need it, look them in the eyes, and ask them to sit down. Because, chances are, when they see your table crowded, they won’t see the space for them.
You can’t make anyone unlonely. But you can love them, hard, lonely or not.
Joining LIsa-Jo and her flash mob of writers for Five Minute Friday today. The goal is to write for five minutes on the given topic, without lots of thinking and editing. I may have broken all of the rules. But I spent much less time on this than I do on my ordinary posts. Join in by clicking on the button above!
©2013 by Stacy Nott