December 13, 2019

Making Space

Remember that scene in Forrest Gump when the kids won't let him sit beside them on the bus? Seat's taken. Can't sit here. Taken. Remember how it made you feel the first time yous saw that movie? Of course it's about more than just a seat. It's about making a statement to someone that they don't belong. I had a sort of experience like that last night at Harry Potter trivia.

My friend and I were meeting up to play trivia together for the first time at a local bar. She's basically an encyclopedia of Harry Potter knowledge, so I felt a bit guilty that even though I love HP, I might not be able to contribute much on obscure facts, etc. So we had discussed that if I got to the bar early, I might scout out other already formed teams we could join.

I should have gone with my instincts and sidled up to the foursome wearing crimson and gold ties and homemade S.P.E.W. lapel pins. Lesson learned.

Instead I grabbed a couple seats for us at a long table that was already occupied on the other end by a youngish couple. I asked them if they were there to do the trivia and they said yes. Then, I decided to just go for it and ask if they would be open to having someone (me and my friend) join their team. 

The girl said, "Ummm, I don't know. I'm feeling sort of competitive tonight." I'm still not even sure what that meant exactly, but the gist was, "No, you can't join us."


I mean, people, I get it. We're talking Harry Potter trivia here. Nothing of life altering importance. But then again, maybe it is.

If it wasn't important, why did it make me feel such a gross feeling? Like total ick. I looked down at my vintage Boston sweatshirt. Not cool enough for them? My big old granny purse? The fact that I was alone? Random reject hanging out in a bar? Not cool enough to have a big group of friends of my own. Y'all, I went down these rabbit holes for several minutes.

In the end, my friend and I had a blast doing trivia just the two of us. She killed most every question and I added moral support and cheer (at least I hope).

But what's the deal with this? Why do we (and I'm including myself here) have such a hard time making space for others? I get it Harry Potter trivia girl. You have your own friends. With your own inside jokes. Your own history. You don't want some random nearly middle aged thrift store queen on your trivia team. That's totally your prerogative.

But if we can't make space for people in tiny, unimportant ways, what does it say about our ability to make space when it really matters?

I've been there. I've been the one unable or unwilling to make space. Some of the time, it was definitely on purpose, but honestly, I believe the other times I was just oblivious to the needs of others to belong....which is just as bad.

In my life, I get the privilege of moving in and out of a lot of circles. One day this week, I started out by doing a television appearance demonstrating holiday drink recipes, then was emailing back and forth with some media bigwigs and later, making holiday ornaments with a 3rd grader who told me her mom had just gotten out of a half-way house.

Sometimes it's hard to make space for all these things. Especially when, in the light of some difficult or challenging circumstances, the others seem trivial or silly. I'm trying to figure it out as I go. And I'm trying not to get discouraged when the tragedies and heartaches of people I care about seem to swallow up the rest.

Not being on a Harry Potter trivia team is not a tragedy. I get that. But it was a good reminder to me that I want to widen the circle. I want to open my heart to people who feel like there's no place for them. And I am grateful to those people who have widened their circles and hearts to me.