Welcome Jonah Lange – guest at our fire. Jonah is in his first year of Grad School at the University of Northeren Iowa studying School Counseling, and avid game player with a keen ability to discover and welcome those that are often overlooked. Welcome to the fire Jonah – we’re so glad you are here.
We’d all been invited, but no one seemed to know why. It was me and maybe half a dozen or so other young people, probably most were in high school. I hadn’t talked to anyone yet and wasn’t sure if I wanted to. For one, I still didn’t know why I’d been invited. For two, I was still getting a feel for the party. Many of them seemed to already know each other as they were already talking. The one person who wasn’t in a group talking was jumping around the rooms flailing her arms about. I’d stay quiet for now.
Suddenly, some lights came on that nobody realized were there. They revealed signs that pointed to rooms in the house. They were all labeled with what things there were to do in the rooms to which they pointed. There was a room for movies, games, food, and more. People naturally split off into the room that interested them. Most, including me, went to get food, but a few went to games.
The food was quite nice. Most of what was there were appetizer-type foods, but it was all very good. After getting our food, we all followed a sign to a dining room and sat around the table. I happened to sit between one of the guys and the flailing arms girl, who’d since calmed down. Not knowing who else to talk to, I decided to try and make conversation.
“How’s the food?” I asked.
She seemed shocked for a second, but quickly recovered and said, “I like it.”
Trying to ignore the oddity of her shock, I responded with, “So what’s your name?”
There was a briefer moment of shock, followed by, “Anna”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Curtis.”
She nodded her head and went back to her food. Since she seemed preoccupied with it, I decided to do the same. Though before this conversation I’d merely found her odd, I also now found myself curious. The shock she’d had when I spoke to her was unusual. I didn’t know what to make of it.
Anyway, after I finished my food, I went to the game room. The room was filled with an assortment of board games, card games, and even video games. As the video game areas had already been claimed, I grabbed a board game and asked if anyone wanted to play. A few takers later, we had a game going. I got to know some of the people with whom I played. It turns out that most of them went to a high school a couple of hours from mine that was too rich for my parents’ money. They told me about what their school was like and what they were all involved in. It was cool getting to hear about their experiences that were so unlike mine. When they asked me what my school was like, I described the typical high school with small lockers and below-average cafeteria food. Needless to say, no one was looking to transfer.
Eventually, I led the conversation to inquire about Anna. A couple of them actually knew who she was. Anna didn’t go to the same school as them but lived in the same area. They’d seen her at local community events and such. When I asked if they’d ever talked to her before, they laughed. I was initially confused by their laughter until one of them explained that Anna had some sort of disability that often made communication hard for her. Basically, they couldn’t talk to her even if they wanted to (and it didn’t seem to me like they did).
We finished the game, and they went to the movie room. They invited me, but I needed a couple of minutes to think. Anna had spoken to me but had seemed shocked when I’d addressed her. She’d been jumping around the room at the start of the night, but then had calmed down at dinner. It all made me wonder.
I went to the movie room. Due to a difference in the preferences of people in the room, the lights had been dimmed, but not turned off. I saw the people I’d played a game with sitting toward the front of the room. Initially, I was going to go sit next to them, but then I saw Anna in the back and decided to sit by her. Not only was I curious about her, but I also didn’t want her to be alone because she was different, even if I didn’t understand why.
I sat down next to her. Her eyes were fixed on the screen.
“Hey,” I whispered as I sat down.
She looked at me. No shocked hesitation this time.
“Hey,” she whispered as she looked back at the screen.
I simply just sat next to her watching the movie for a bit until at one point I glanced over at her and noticed tears rolling down her face.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
She looked over at me and with a tearful smile said, “You chose me.”
I didn’t know what to think. Was my choice between where I would sit in the movie room written that obviously on my face that she had noticed it. What was it all about?
Reading my confusion, she explained, “Normally, I’m just the person jumping around and flailing my arms like I was in the first room. It isn’t a disability; I just usually don’t know what to say or how to act.”
I nodded, following along best I could.
“Then in the dining room, you sat next to me. I know that it was the only place left, but it still felt good. When you talked to me, it felt good too. I was still nervous then, that’s why I didn’t talk very much.”
I nodded. It was starting to make sense.
“Then you chose me here. I’d heard you playing a game with some of the other people here. I really thought that you’d sit by them when I saw you come in the movie room after them, but you chose me.”
She then rested her head on my shoulder, and I put my arm around her. I didn’t realize that those little things I did were having such a big impact. All I’d done was sit by her and talked to her. Had she really felt this alone that just having someone do these simple things meant so much to her? The tears being shed on my t-shirt were proof that the answer was yes. I’d never realized that just showing a little bit of human kindness could go this far.
“You chose me,” she said again as she cried.
I thought about her. Not just her, but the other people out there who would be touched this much just by simple acts of kindness that the rest of the world takes for granted. I thought about the impact that could be made on their lives just by showing it to them.
“You chose me,” she said again.
And then, saying it as much to her as to anyone who needed to be shown kindness, I said, “And I always will.”
Jonahs Christmas travel plans included as top with these amazing friends – Good choice:)