She opened the door, and there stood Jenna with a quart of ice cream and a huge smile.
"Sure. I was just coming." Lavinia tried to sound casual as she followed her down the hall.
There were several friends, none of whom Lavinia had met before. Jenna waved at them briefly, and said their names, but Lavinia knew she wouldn't remember a single one. She nodded at them and then sought haven in the freezer, pulling out her pistachio ice cream and setting it on the counter next to several others.
One of the guys exclaimed over it, saying it was his favorite kind, but hard to find, as he began dishing himself a large bowlful. Lavinia felt relieved--she had brought the right thing. She studied the different cartons of ice cream so that no one would feel like they needed to talk to her, but Jenna handed her a huge ice cream cone and comfortably introduced her into a conversation she was having with one of her friends.
"Vinia knows a lot about that kind of stuff" she easily transitioned, "She works at a homeless shelter as a social worker. What do you think, Lavinia?"
And suddenly, because it was something she was passionate about, Lavinia lost her shyness and found herself talking and laughing with the small group. They wanted to organize a service for the homeless shelter, but there was some debate about what, exactly, would be helpful and how to go about it. She was in her element.
Eventually, the conversation drifted in other directions--some of them confusing and foreign since they revolved around Jenna's church, which these friends were members of, too. Lavinia worked on her ice cream cone and decided it was about time to head to bed when suddenly, one of the girls, Michelle, maybe, asked Lavinia a question that made no sense to her. Jenna put her hand on Lavinia's arm, laughed lightly, and said "Oh, Vinia doesn't go to our church. She puts up with me, though." Lavinia smiled and made to wash her hands at the sink. From there, she was able to make a quiet exit.
Later, after getting into her pajamas and reading for awhile, she heard Jenna say goodbye to her friends and start cleaning up the kitchen. Lavinia put her book down and walked out to the kitchen. She joined Jenna at the counter, scooping some sprinkles into her hand and tossing them into the trash with a crumpled napkin.
"Jenna...thanks. For inviting me. You didn't have to, but it was nice" she said, with her back turned to her roommate.
"Hey--it was fun to have you. I think you really helped us pick a good service project." Jenna said easily, then--continuing, "I'm sorry about the church stuff. I hope it didn't make you feel uncomfortable."
Lavinia turned to Jenna, who was leaning against the counter looking intently at her. Trying to gauge her reaction, maybe.
"Don't worry about it." was Lavinia's reply.
She put a couple glasses in the dishwasher and walked back to her room to go to bed.