Tuesday, September 03, 2013

we'll make room

I was a band geek... in a way, I might still be, just without the saxophone.  I joined the band in 9th grade, wanting to play the saxophone.  I played auxiliary percussion my first year--triangle, viberslap, gong, maracas, so on--and then saxophone from my soph to senior year. 

See, I was someone in school, or at least junior high (I don't know why they call it "middle school" instead of "junior high"... when and why did that change occur?  It's like "junior college" became "community college".  What's wrong with "junior"?  They don't call the lower grade football team "community varsity" or "middle varsity", its "junior varsity"... am I rambling again?)

Anyway, I was someone in junior high who had friends.  Lots of friends. People generally like me as a 14 year old.  But, I had few close friends... I didn't have a "circle to run with" or a group I always hung out with.

Maybe that's why I joined the band... it was an already established group of people of all sorts, all with one common goal--making music and moving around a football field in a rhythm. 

So, at the risk of running this blog too long and rambling, I'll get to my little story... one night, the football team headed to play GW Long, in Georgiana, Alabama, about an hour away.  I enjoyed band bus rides, especially long ones, as it gave me a chance to hang in the back of the bus with some of the, at least who I considered, cooler kids. 

I can't remember who won that night, and really, it doesn't matter.  What matters is that the band bus stopped at Hardees after the game for everyone to eat dinner.  Forty kids, myself including, from 7th grade to Seniors, piled off the bus and headed towards the counter of Hardees... I was in the midst of the crowd, and I peered around as the majorettes got their table, and the senior guard got their table, drum major included, and so on. 

I paid for my food, turned around, tray in hand, and looked for somewhere to sit.  There were empty tables left, but all the tables that had people in them were full.  Glancing around, I spotted a larger table with eight chairs around it.  Seven were filled, one was empty.  As I took a step toward that table, with color guard and saxes and trumpets and more all sitting, eating, laughing, having the grandest time... as I took that step, ready to look at some of those kids and say "Can I sit here?", someone--don't know who--filled that spot. 

Me on the far left, with the glasses... maybe we weren't the coolest, but
it was just fun.
Dejected, I stopped, looked around once more, and then walked over to an empty table and sat down.  The larger table was next to me, with the group still laughing, joking, being loud and being all the things I wanted at that very second.  With a frown and a sigh, I started to eat my food.  It was fine.  I was eating alone.  I mean, we all eat alone sometimes, right? 

To my surprise, Shanna Nowling appeared out of nowhere.  Younger than me, she was more popular as a 7th grader than I was a freshman, so it caught me completely off guard. 

She smiled and said, "Wanna... wanna come join us?"

I looked at her, bewildered, and said, "I thought it was full...?"

She said again, "Nah... we'll make room. Come on."

We'll make room.  Three words that said "Sure, we are packed, but there is room for one more.  And that's you."

I got up, picked up my tray and followed Shanna Nowling to the table.  And sure enough, two people automatically moved aside so I could pull up a chair.  And yes, we were packed around that table, but I remember it being a hilarious time...

And now, 25 years later, I remember it. That one act of kindness that I'm sure Shanna, nor anyone else at that table, wouldn't remember (most people probably wouldn't remember who's table they were sitting at) has stayed with me all these years.

We'll make room.  We'll include you in our fun, so you aren't all by yourself, so you can be with us and join us and feel a part of us.  Isn't that what the Christian community is supposed to be about?

Its that kindness, the little things... and maybe if that has been with me all this time, its not such a little thing.  So just remember, the small things you do could be forgotten... or remembered. 

Be nice.  Be kind.  Be loving.  And be inclusive.

Make room for someone else.


  1. Oh, the angst...you captured it well, I don't remember a specific incident from HS like this one, but I remember the ever-present feeling of not being included in a group of kids I had grown up with, knew pretty well, yet somehow, our interests had changed, they had become more sophisticated, "worldly", wildly popular, while I remained quiet-almost-shy, uncertain, unaware of what "worldly" even meant. I had a new circle of friends which was miles apart (band/music/drama kids vs. jocks/cheerleaders/ASB officers)from my former circle. As an adult, I try really hard to be inclusive, probably directly related to HS experiences!

  2. This is so.good. Just so good. We've all felt like that, and my entire 8th grade year was about like that, but what's the coolest is we all have a chance to be Shanna in our own way today.

    Thanks for sharing!


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