When I first moved to DC I joined a Bible Study for people who were new to the city. The idea of the study was to get to know other people who were new to the city (DC can be a really isolating place as an adult) and to have group leaders that you can call on when you needed someone to talk to or a suggestion for a place to get good Chinese food.
The groups were assorted by age (I think), so my group was filled with people in my age range. I was working at a soup kitchen at the time, and the group met after work so I showed up in jeans and a t-shirt, and everyone else was in… well not jeans and a t-shirt. For the most part people were wearing suits and business casual clothes, so I felt a little out of place. My group was made up mostly of women my age (24) who work for the government. Some how they all loved college sports and were from the south/mid-west. I felt very out of place.
Now, I’m kind of an awkward person. It takes me a while to warm up to people and for people to warm up to me, so I kept going to the group. After a few weeks, I hadn’t really warmed up to the group, but I kept going, waiting for the moment when my personality would start to shine through and people would see the real me. So when our group decided to do a game night at our leaders’ apartment, I went.
It was a potluck, so I made 2 dozen blueberry muffin, put them in a bowl, covered it with saran wrap, and headed for the metro.
On the metro, I ran into my friend Nathan and he and I walked to our leaders’ together, which was nice since they had mentioned that their neighborhood wasn’t the nicest area.
The game night was a bust, as I didn’t feel particularly closer to anyone in the group and no one ate any of the muffins. So I was heading home with 24 muffins and no real way to get rid of them. As we were getting ready to leave, I saw Nathan leaving. Not wanting to walk to the metro, by myself, in the dark, I ran after him onto the elevator.
It turned out he was catching a ride with Natalie (another one of our group members), so I was walking alone. But not to worry, Nathan pointed out that if I felt threatened I could just “throw my muffins at them and make a quick get away”. Thanks buddy…
So I headed to the metro, walking as fast as I could, in the dark, by myself, with my muffins. Now, I’m grew up in the country and I went to college in the country, so the city made me nervous. Like “I am going to get shot”, nervous. So I am basically running, when I frighten a middle aged African-American. He jumped, then I jumped. Chuckling he says “Oh you scared me, but I guess I scared you too”.
Sensing that he wasn’t going to attack me, I walked with him for the next few blocks toward the metro in a sort of “security bubble”. I offered him a muffin, but he declined. We chatted for about 20 minutes about everything from what we did for work, to our families, to the times we spent in physical therapy. I was thinking of him as a buddy, and I thought he was feeling the same way (since he was about twice my age). I found out that I was wrong when I got to the metro. He was continuing down the street but as we were parting ways he says “I’d really like to see you again, can I get your number?” The “security bubble” I was in was popped, so I said “Thanks, but no thanks” and ran down the escalator to the metro, still clutching my muffins.