Alone in a Crowded Room

alone in a crowded room

Most days, it takes a lot to blast me out of my cave. Family events will do it because they’re few and far between; running out of coffee will do it (that’s a given!); a new movie will do it if the movie falls within a finite range of interest (sci-fi, zombies, super heroes, and Tom Hanks); and benefits (or favors) for friends. That’s about it.

A Gathering of Angels: Sunday Funday for Annette!

This past weekend, after the Big Reveal, after the Ocean Pond Clubhouse adventure, I attended a cancer-fund-raising-event for a friend. Annette is an awesome woman, a fighter, a kick-ass warrior who normally plows right through life with a vengeance. Several months ago, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Calling in the angels, her friends and family began working together to raise money to help pay for Annette’s medical treatment. As a waitress, Annette works without the handy perk of medical insurance, much like everyone else I know in this part of the country. To add insult to injury, her treatment involves the need for a shot, one shot, that costs $6,000 per injection. I can’t even begin to imagine what miracle drug must be in that syringe that would warrant a $6,000 price tag, but the doctors say that this is her chance for recovery. Annette’s tumors are shrinking. She looks great despite everything she’s going through, and she has the support of friends and family and a community that has accepted her with open arms.

I stood on the periphery during the event, wandering from the bar inside to the patio out back trying to engage in conversation with people I see at my brother’s gigs, friends of Annette’s, friends of friends, acquaintances, even strangers who have gathered for a common cause. I’m not good at small talk. I’m not really comfortable in crowds. I can’t say that I’d rather I’d stayed home because I wanted to be there for Annette, for my brother who’d helped organize the event and was playing under a leaky tent in pouring rain through thunder and lightning, for his girlfriend Barb (Annette’s sister and a longtime family friend). I wanted to be there in the mix, adding my positive energy to the flowing glow of love that swirled around me. But I still felt like an interloper standing on the fringe of the party not knowing how to engage.

Why is that? I often wonder what it is that makes me so uncomfortable. Have I spent so much time alone that I’ve lost my social skills? I don’t think so. I’ve never had the desire to hang out with the crowd, to be one of the guys, to join the team. Even as a child, I was a loner. I had friends but I was happier one-on-one. My brothers are the same way. We are quiet, introspective people, alone but never lonely. I think it runs in the family.

Family–when you least expect it!

After forty years, I reconnected with a cousin at the event. He’d made contact with my brother a couple of years ago and come up from south Florida to support Annette. He immediately reminded me of my brothers with his calm, happy demeanor. He is gentle and kind and quiet. I watched him move through the crowd like me, a part of it but separate. I admit, I don’t really know my cousin well after our short time together but I felt a kindred spirit gazing back at me, a person happy to observe, to support, and to stand on the sidelines, happy to be alone in a crowded room. Maybe he’s even a cave dweller like me. I hope to get to know him better and find out.

 Just for Fun!

A black labrador dog is decorated for a Fourth of July Picnic

There is no way in the world I would be able to get my look-alike black lab Bella to stand still long enough to attach a holiday bow but I thought this photo (from Pinterest) was appropriate for how I’ll be spending my 4th of July. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday! See you soon!

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