Originally, I had planned to take a trip to the lake with my friends. It had been a while since we had last gotten together and I thought it might be fun for us to hang out on the beach, take a dip, bring some food, and a bunch of other fun stuff that we don’t get to do very often. I had called everyone up and arranged the whole thing, picking a date that worked for everyone and settling exactly who would bring what. And then people started canceling.
Friend after friend called me up to tell me that they could no longer make it to the beach day I had so carefully planned. By the time the beach day itself had rolled around, I didn’t have a single friend left that was able to make it to the beach with me. My first thought was that I’d have to stay home moping around my house all day.
One look out the window at the beautiful sunshine and bright blue sky had me groaning at the prospect of being stuck indoors all day. That’s when I decided that I might not have to stay cooped up after all. I packed my beach bag and threw on my swimsuit and hopped into the car, speeding off down the road toward the lake.
When I reached the lake, I realized I was a little nervous about showing up all on my own. I knew there were probably plenty of people who were flying solo down on the beach, but I was still worried that I’d look a little weird. My fears were confirmed when I hit the sand and realized that the only other people who were there seemed to be part of a large party that had all come together.
All the kids were running around the beach and laughing with each other, and every adult seemed to be chatting with their friends. As I wandered over to a patch of sand a little ways away from the big party, I was wondering if it might have been better to stay home after all.
I tried to enjoy myself, laying out my towel on the sand to soak up some sun. The weather was perfect, but somehow I found myself unable to enjoy it as much as I would have if I had someone to enjoy it with. I pulled out my book after a little while and tried to use that to distract me from how awkward I felt. I couldn’t even get through the first page. Just when I was about ready to give up and call it a day, some newcomers appeared at the edge of the sand.
It was another group of friends, all of them laughing and bounding along the sand toward the docks. I was watching them enviously when one of them stopped and turned to look right at me, catching my gaze before I could pretend I hadn’t been looking. A sweet smile spread over her face as she came a little closer and held out a hand to me.
I looked around, certain she couldn’t possibly be asking me, a complete stranger, to come with her and all her friends. And yet, she nodded encouragingly at me when I cautiously stood up from where I’d been sitting. Nervous that if I hesitated too much, she’d change her mind, I hurried off in her direction.
When I reached her, she took my hand in hers and led me over to the docks where all her friends had gathered. She introduced me to everyone in the pack, telling me everyone’s name and making sure they knew mine. After introductions were made, I was overjoyed to learn that the beautiful pontoon boat at the end of the docks belonged to a member of the group and that they had been planning to spend the afternoon on the water.
They invited me on board, and I couldn’t accept their invitation fast enough. We pushed off from the water only a couple minutes later and began cruising along the water.
I’d never been on a pontoon boat before, but I found its slow, smooth ride relaxing. The guy driving the boat was named Gus, and he was blasting some tunes for all of us to enjoy, urging everyone to sing along to the songs we all knew. When we reached the middle of the lake, someone proposed that we break out the inner tubes and hook them up to the boat. One thing led to another, and a few minutes later, I found myself skimming along the water on a tube behind the boat next to the girl that had spotted me on the beach, Max. It was a lot more fun than I’d been expecting.
We reeled ourselves back into the boat when our turn was over, passing the tubes off to a couple of other people who wanted a ride, then we headed over to one of the padded benches to grab a snack. As we settled into our seats, I turned to Max, unable to keep my curiosity to myself any longer.
“Max,” I began, “why did you invite me to come boating with you?”
“I’m not sure exactly,” she said thoughtfully, “I guess I thought you looked a little lonely and figured I had plenty of friends to go around.”
“Well thank you for being so willing to share,” I said with a smile, “I don’t suppose you’d all be interested in coming to my house for a barbecue after this?”
Max called out to the group to see how they felt about the idea, and it was quite clear that they were very interested.
“We’re definitely interested,” she answered with a laugh, ”but are you sure you want all us goofballs in your house?”
“Of course I do,” I replied, “plus, this is my way of saying thank you for turning my day around.”
“Glad we could help,” Max said, offering a hand for me to shake.
As I took it, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to have made so many new friends that day.