When Billy speaks, he’s always talking about someone specific. Someone sitting right in front of him. Someone whose eyes are darting left and right, not wanting to be noticed. Someone who’s heard his too-long speech one hundred times and is fighting sleep. This time that someone was me.
We’re all surrounded by one another, sitting in a too-small excuse for a library, and it’s about to get more crowded in here. There are almost forty of us on staff. Just a buncha off-beat kids who live at the camp and make the place run for half a summer. Tonight, the campers come. Over ninety kids under twelve, running around in sandy flip flops asking if I’ve seen their Bible or toothbrush in the cabin. No, I haven’t.
I’m surrounded by people. So many people that I can hardly breath fresh air. I’m sweating from the overcrowding, one arm’s stuck at my side, there’s a camper clinging to my leg. There are people everywhere. The noise is so loud, I wouldn’t hear my name called out among the crowd. But Billy’s speaking to me because he knows that among the throngs of bodies, there is loneliness. He sees beyond the funny hats we wear for our skits and through the fancy dance moves we create to teach Bible stories in song. And behind all of that, there is loneliness.
When he says someone there’s always, truly, a someone sitting within ten steps of him. He’s never hypothetical. This feeling isn’t hypothetical. It’s seeping in and feeling real. Surrounded by folks, this feeling’s real.