One of the first rules of self defense is never let yourself become surrounded.  So, how had I let this happen? 

Maybe it was because they gathered slowly, one or two here and then a few more there.  And suddenly I realized I was surrounded by people who definitely weren’t like me.  

Now, my stomach is uneasy and my palms are damp.  I’m feeling unsure of myself, and I’m second guessing the decisions that brought me to this spot at this time.

They don’t act like their attention is honing in on me, but I sense glances in my direction.  I feel an undercurrent of whispers and wonder if they are about me.

Survival instincts have me looking for an escape route before, I imagine, they can morph from a disorganized crowd to a single-minded gang that could easily turn on me, the outsider.  But, as I glance around I realize there is no escape route.  I am surrounded and will have to stay put for now.

There are lots of similarities in the manner of dress in the crowd, the kind of similarities, I imagine, that could possibly be seen in a gang!

Then I sense someone new close-by — there is no question that the person who has just arrived is the leader.  Obviously older, his confident swagger labels him as someone accustomed to being in charge — accustomed to others listening to what he says. 

He starts to talk and all other conversation stops and all turn to listen.  I’m still uneasy and have a quick thought that all it would take for my worst fears to be realized would be for him to give the word to “reject the outsider!” and it would be all over for me.

But, as he starts to speak, he seems calm, reasonable, articulate.  And, what he’s saying doesn’t even mention me!  I begin to relax.  Maybe I’ve misjudged this crowd.  Maybe they don’t see it as a bad thing to have an obvious outsider in their midst. 

By the time the leader finishes his rapid-fire, mesmerizing talk, an escape route seems less necessary to me.  Surprising myself, I have become much less anxious about the people who surround me, as well as their leader, and I’m not as eager to get away from them. 

By the end, some of the crowd have actually introduced themselves to me and ask me questions about myself that seem to indicate a beginning of acceptance.  Maybe this is a crowd I could even enjoy being around!  To my relief, they seem nice and possibly willing to include me, even though they and I obviously have major differences in our lifestyle and perspective.

Remarkably, this was an experience that started out with much apprehension for me, but has turned out very well in the end.  I may even have to come back to this spot again in hopes of running into some of my newfound friends again.  In fact, I think I’ll come back to this exact same spot at the exact same time next week, and see if they’re here.  I’m surprisingly looking forward to that prospect.  And, besides, I think their leader is a very knowledgable character, who I’m pretty sure would be interesting to listen to on a regular basis.  I can see why he’s a leader.

The End

Thus went my first day of Fiction Writing class at the local Christian college, as the only student in the class over the age of 25.

9 Responses to Surrounded

  1. Danielle says:

    I love this post…I think we all feel a little like this on our “first days”, no matter what age we are…


  2. Linda says:

    You had ME going. I was spellbound as I waited for the inevitable attack on you and wondered why I had never heard this story.

  3. Hooray! I was wondering how your first day went! Did you write in class? That’s always a rush. Do you like the assignments?

    Great job on your first day. It is always hard to put yourself in a new situation. But now your IN.

  4. Sandra says:

    Danielle — You’re right, of course, about “first days.” But, at 61, I haven’t experienced a “damp palms” situation in a long time, so it was a “new” old experience for me.

    Linda — that’s one of the reasons I love you. You buy into ALMOST everything I say! 🙂

    SBW — I thought of you in class. If only you had been there, we could have discussed this fascinating professor. I could not believe how quickly the 2 1/2 hours went. The requirement for the class is to write 3 short stories that will all be submitted to Writer’s Journal magazine. He’s all about getting published — a BIG surprise to me. It has never occurred to me to write anything that would be published! Kind of scary. No writing in class yesterday. Assignment is to start on firt short story (I figure I’ll take one of my posts and modify it to fit the rules — what do you think?)and read first chapter of the book. Test every week from now on. So far — FUN!

  5. tz says:

    nice…and you left me wanting to read more!

  6. Sandra says:

    tz — believe me, I think you are probably going to get REALLLLLY tired of reading about this class (and what I have to write for it). Linda could tell you that when DD was getting married, EVERYONE I worked with knew EVERY detail of the ups and down of planning that wedding! I’m like that.

  7. […] I decided you need an “oldie” for today too, so go here for a post I wrote at the beginning of my fiction writing class a year […]

  8. Beth says:

    Great idea linking to “Oldies but Goodies!” I would love to take a writing class–I did take a creative writing class in college and it was great. I seem to remember a couple of “nontraditional” students in that small class. If I take one again, I’ll be the “old” one–in my 30s!

  9. Sandra says:

    Beth — That class was a GREAT experience. I highly recommend it. I learned so much. And, I didn’t feel like being older than my classmates was really a disadvantage. It really did show me how things looked from a younger perspective. A wonderful adventure.

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