The Power of Strangers :: How to Make Room at Your Table

When he first approached my table, I barely gave him a glance. He wasn’t carrying the coffee I ordered. Not holding a puppy, either. There was nothing I needed from him. 

Just a stranger.

And this month, I didn’t have a good track record with them. My heart, still off a beat from the three gentlemen I met in a parking lot. Strangers, also. Stealing more than just a shattered phone. 

Brief as the encounter had been, the pain still lingered. Happy to be out of the shadows. Cozy in my arms. 

This particular pain and distrust had accompanied me for the past two weeks. Taking up any remaining chairs at my table. 

But he couldn’t see that. 

He waited a moment more before he spoke. Cleared his throat. 

“Mind if I sit with you?”

The Power of Strangers :: How to Make Room at Your Table

I looked up then. He was younger than me. He smiled. I hesitated. 

Was he going to hit on me? Nah. My hair was exceptionally dirty that day. Not getting that vibe. 

He didn’t want any of this. 

He blushed, wrung his hands for a bit, and looked down as he said, “I’m so sorry if this is coming out weird. I really don’t want to bother you. I have severe social anxiety and I’m trying to work on my people skills. I didn’t know who to approach, but you looked nice. I’m going through a program and this is one of the hardest steps.” And then he finally looked up. 

Walls crumbled. My old smile returned. 

I moved my laptop to the side quickly as I said, “Of course, please, please sit down! You have come to the right table. I’d love to help.” I extended my hand, “I’m Britany.”

Instant relief in his eyes. His hand, with a slight tremble, grabbed mine and said, “I’m Mark. You have no idea how hard that was.”

I do, Mark. I do. 

The Power of Strangers :: How to Make Room at Your Table

These days, I don’t get to meet a lot of new people.

I’m sure, a lot of stay at home moms would agree. Besides the {sometimes} forced interaction at sports events, school gatherings, and birthday parties–I’m not collecting a lot of digits. 

Which is a shame; I love people. Truly, I use to travel the world searching for new encounters and besties. 

One day, I might get to do that again. But right now, raising two little humans, and trying to maintain and grow all the other relationships in my life, doesn’t often lead to enough time to hear a new story. Not like it use to. When I had the time and heart to turn a stranger into a friend. 

The Power of Strangers :: How to Make Room at Your Table

I almost missed out. 

I almost let the heartless actions of another person fuel my anxiety enough to hide from others. Because hiding is the best way to not get hurt. Because a stranger, armed with hate or their own pain, will strip you bare and not think of you again.

But you will think of him. For days. For weeks. The moment another stranger walks up to you and extends his hand.

And then you get to choose. Which stranger will win? 

The one that robbed you {literally} of your possessions and peace? 

Or the one that saw enough kindness in you to peer over his own wall and ask to sit next to you?

They both wanted something from you. A purse. A conversation. 

I chose the brave one. 

Mark and I ended up talking for thirty minutes. It was one of the most unexpected, wonderful interactions I have had in a long time. He shared his wounds, I spoke of mine

I am so happy I didn’t let someone steal that away from me, along with my purse. 

When he left, tears came to my eyes. Because after three men had tried to take what little I had on me, another had given me a gift. 

A reminder to not forget about all the good in the world. Just because someone showed you a part of the worst. 

Recently I opened my heart up to another stranger. My home, as well. Go big. 

He bites. It’s kind of an issue.

But my kids love him.

And I need him. 

Yesterday, he only peed on one of my rugs. 

We named him Dragon

Shut up, you’ve heard stupider dog names. His fits him quite nicely. 

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