Personal Space: The Final Frontier

These are the public bathroom trip stories of Joseph Meldrum. My continuing mission? To avoid strange new experiences in the stalls, to be a couple toilets away from other guys at the urinals so I can boldly go where I have not gone before.

Every living organism needs a certain amount of space to exist, live, and work. Our environment plays a large part in how we grow and develop. To an extent, we can control which environment we are in. What we can’t always control is who we have to share our space with.

The Need for Space

Being stuck in the same room can only be fun for so long. The body physically needs to stretch its legs and breathe fresher air. Think of the body as an idea. Could your mind function if it could only think the same thought over and over? Of course it can’t. Your mind needs to wander and explore and so does your body.

Plants can’t grow if they are too close to each other. Livestock needs room to roam on the farm. Human beings are no different in these respects.

Marking Your Territory

Personal space is as big as what we are willing to claim as our own. It is an extension of our own skin when it comes to what we feel. For example, it would make my skin crawl if I discovered someone thumbing through my journal. There are some lines that should not be crossed.

We borrow spaces at times. My classes don’t have assigned seating but it still feels like it. If you tried to move to a different seat, someone expecting to sit in their usual spot would feel robbed. What counts as our own space can be subjective, but you can’t help feeling like the space around you belongs to you.

Space Invaders

I was at a movie theater on a date and we were the only two people in the room. Halfway through the movie a kid walks into the theater with a baby in his arms and goes straight for our row just four seats away from us. It felt like my space was being invaded.

Our comfort levels determine what we consider to be too close. We are particular about whom we let in and when. At the same time, we desire certain things to get close and stay close to us. I don’t want strangers putting their hands on my shoulders, but I do want someone special to squeeze my hand.

I wouldn’t consider myself shy. I just deeply care about who I stand next to. My space is important to me and I won’t fill it with just any random person. Likewise, I don’t want to enter into the space of someone who doesn’t want me there. The next time I go to sit in a row of chairs I will look for someone sitting alone and ask him or her if I can sit in the adjacent chair. Sitting alone can be dull.

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