I was sitting in the park when a game of volleyball came together a few yards behind me. Friends (all young 20 somethings) trickled in from various directions and soon the net was up and the game ensued.
Not long after, another young man showed up on his bike. I thought he was a straggling friend about to jump into the game. He wasn't. No one acknowledged him. They clearly didn't know him. From what I could gather, he just saw the game going on and was drawn to it. He sat and watched awhile, maybe taking break from his bike ride. He lingered and even cheered a good play or two.
I think the guy wanted to play. I could just feel that he wanted to join their game and was hoping for an invitation.
The players were aware of him but had no need of him. See I remember someone counting out the teams before the game started. It was an even 6 on each side.
When they took a little water break, no one spoke to him. They were so happy to see each other. So happy that their little volleyball date came together.
If only they had been one player short. In that case, I know they would have seen him rather than just glancing over at him. He would have been included, invited, because his presence would have been seen as a convenient turn of events. Their need of a player would have matched up perfectly with his wanting to play and he would have been in.
He eventually rode off.
The teacher/mommy in me wanted to take him by the little hand, walk him over, and get him involved in the game. I could have made it real weird, real quick. My heart hurts for fringe people.
Later that day, I walked past a man (clearly in need) standing outside the grocery store. I smiled at him as he greeted me. On the way out, I passed by him again. He asked me for water. I apologized for not having any and continued on my way. My heart doesn't hurt enough for fringe people, apparently.
If I had a water bottle in my hand right at that moment, I am sure I would have handed it over. I couldn't be bothered to walk back in the store to get some water. I was in a hurry for goodness sake. It was my son's birthday and school was about to start the next day. I was busy.
I kept walking.
If only his inconvenience had matched with my convenience. I could have then, been more helpful. The sad truth.
Once a ways back, in a new situation, I could have used a friend. Someone I met at that time, told me that she had all the close friends she needed. I thought it was a funny thing to say. I didn't put it together right away but eventually the message came through. See circumstance dictated that she and I would see each other regularly during that time, and while we were 'friendly,' we wouldn't actually be friends. Clearly. Her friend card was full and she was declaring that to me up front. I know what 'fringe' feels like. Unpleasant.
When we were driving from the Bay Area to Las Vegas, we stopped at a gas station somewhere out in the dessert before crossing into Nevada. There was a motorcyclist in a head-to-toe leather suit with long fringe dangling everywhere. He was rocking a fringe-y ponytail and fringe satchel. There was fringe on his boots.
It was noticeable, memorable, and maybe ill advised. Now a full leather suit is almost always a little on the 'much' side, but remember he was a motorcyclist. Full leather could be acceptable, I suppose. But the fringe? He fully embraced the fringe but for most of us, fringe is a step too far.
Fringe needs care. It's the loose thread that you cut because it's a bad look and will brush your arm all day if you don't. Fringe is the tag sticking out of your shirt that your friend turns back in for you. Fringe is there and everyone knows it, but it's inopportune.
'Fringe' has a need that might not match with your ease.
I'm working on my fringe awareness. I'm asking my kids as school begins to look out for those who don't have a place. I'm asking myself and them to go out of our way a little more.
Let's not just sit and wait for someone's need to match up with our convenience. Let's be willing to be inconvenienced.
The volleyball players, the girl with enough friends, and I...Not bad people. Probably super sweet, but sometimes unaware.
"Don't be a 'here I am' person. Be a 'there you are' person." --- I heard that recently on a podcast I listen to called The Hope Writers. Well something like that. I might not be quoting it perfectly, but the thought has stuck. The idea is to look outside yourself. Be a person who notices others.
By the end of the school year, I hope we are all decked out in full leather fringe suits. Embrace the fringe.
I'm working on it.
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