Twenty-nine hundred-ish days ago – almost eight years to the day – I became a raging clostrophobe. Probably the fear had always been there, but growing up in a state with six electoral votes, space came in king size. I had my own bedroom, my own lockers at school – one for books and one for sports – and I never had to worry about fighting over a parking space. Maybe I fought over which parking space, but plenty were always available; no meters or hour limits necessary.
At the time, I was 17 and flying cross-country – with minimal parent supervision –into the most crowded city in the United States, NYC. Sure the airport was large compared to the hallway-like one I’d come from, but it was also crammed full. Full of angry travelers, of luggage, of intercom systems – getting a moment to one’s self would have been more rare than running into Mr. LaGuardia himself.
A little background info: Along with a few fellow dancers, we’d traveled to NYC to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – which is much more impressive than it sounds. Much of my Turkey day was spent in a subway with 699 other red jacket-clad teenagers, and I ate dinner at a Hard Rock Café. However, I did get to walk in the parade, which was billions of times better than watching it from the people-dense sidelines. And, at one point, I was within touching distance of Matt Lauer*
Full of hobos and pee, it’s a town that quickly brought out my fear of lacking personal space. And it did so faster than a local shoving their way onto the 6 Train.
Ever since, I’ve been frozen by thought of touching strangers. New Year’s Eve, close talkers, Black Friday shopping – of which I participated in this year by sleeping and then hitting sales at a reasonable, yet still busy hour – all sit on a list of petrifying events.
What happened to the three-feet-of-personal-space rule? Why are people constantly in others’ grillz? Do I need to carry around a yardstick to claim the breathing room that is rightfully mine? Swinging it like a lightsaber, I’d poke those who encroach on my turf. Wookie or sith lord of all things darth, my spatial claiming tool would put a volt of electricity through the offender. Just to show I’m not crapping around. It would be an unpopular, albeit effective approach; who could stop me without breaking the most cardinal-est of rules?
Now all that’s needed is a purse that fits such a device. I’ll let you know when I find one that is both size appropriate and grounded … and on sale.
*No I didn’t touch him; that’s creepy. Other girls were grabbing his suit at random, like a bunch of unmannered heathens.