The car pulled up to the curb and before the parking lights were even off, much less the engine off, we crowded around the back door. She sat there, almost trembling while the lot of us bounced up and down waiting for her to get out. When she finally did exit, it was to cling to her mother and hide somewhat away from us. As we all moved indoors, most of the other girls drifted away. Newness is amazing, but shyness isn’t something most school girls are adept in dealing with. As everyone sat around to socialize, she crawled under the table. Too many new people, too much noise, too much stimulation. I crawled under there with her. Not even to talk, just to sit and be. Because no one should sit under a table in a church basement at a home school group meeting by themselves.
There is inside of me still a girl who longs to sit under the table in simpler times. It became our standard meeting place as our friendship blossomed. We never lost the love for sitting in random places, be it under tables or on top of suburbans, or hanging out on hay bales.
I just wanted to learn. Inside me there was a desire to do something different, and this, the bobbin-lacing, was as different as anything I’d ever found. I’d crept up near them, with my beginner pillow and clumsy bobbins to watch their skilled fingers toss the bobbins in their patterns, leaving lace growing ever long behind. Words weren’t needed as they taught my fingers the deftness of lacing. The silenced clacking of our wooden bobbins filled my heart, to be interrupted only by queries by museum guests of were we really sure we weren’t tatting. Just sitting in period dresses, making lace, and being. Age was unable to define us.
I wish I could go back and sit with her and lace again. My parents had her procure some bobbins for me for a birthday gift once, she sent an extra one – dark green and delicate – as her gift to me. I still cry when I hold it, because I cannot go back and she isn’t there anymore anyway.
We laughed when the first alarm started it’s obnoxious sounding. New apartment tenants, we were all learning the hazards of cooking on electric stoves. The hazy smoke from our own misadventure frying tomatoes still hung in the air, which was why our windows were open. But when the first klaxon was joined by a second and then a third our amusement dissipated. I ran for her front door, while my sister dove for the ringing phone. The door was locked and my panicked friend asked my sister how to put out a grease fire. We laughed about it after, sitting in her dark apartment with a movie on. We were grateful to be able to laugh, that no harm was done except to that one pan.
Why is it easier to belong in the small quiet moments? I, at one time, was a highly out going person. She still hides in the recesses of my soul and forces me to pick up the phone one more time, send one more message, invite once again. In the chaos of a large group though, I retreat to the edge and watch, wishing for a table to sit under.
It was a warm afternoon and she was awake. It was a good day, she was lucid, there with us. Since the weather was nice, we stepped into the courtyard and walked the loop with her. Once. Twice. And again. Then we just sat on the bench in the sunshine. Words were hard to say. Hers, robbed by a disease. Mine halted by heart ache. We just were, in the warm sunshine.
I cling to that time, that visit. The last real one I had with her. Within the week I would pack up and move across the country and then out of it. I made it home in time to say goodbye, but she wasn’t there anymore. I still like to find a quiet place, sit, and turn my face to the sun to just appreciate being.
Another new home, our second in a mere year and a half. So many good byes, so many friends missed and missing. They were all in our house, I’m not sure what for, just to get together and pretend for awhile that everything was normal. That we weren’t all always in transition. Everything was buzzing, there was food, booze, children, dogs, laughter. I slipped into the backyard to just sit and watch. I was waiting then, and in many way I am waiting still, for someone to come sit with me.
I have many issues with belonging. In many ways I don’t mind if I never do, I am not quite mainstream but not quite different enough to find a niche easily. It’s never been about being one of the popular kids, but rather about belonging with those others who color outside the lines. My fear of belonging often paralyzes me and makes me flee the other way. Thoughts of not being good enough, not being liked enough, tailspin through my head and attempt to carry me downward. Thinking that if only I were more this or a better that, then it would be easier.
But I am just me. No more. No less. I want you to like me, to want to get to know me, to show me that this world has room for silence loving extroverts. If ever we meet, don’t mistake my sitting back for not wanting to participate. Just come sit with me.