Thursday, August 8, 2013

Taking Up Space

If I had written a "What I've Been Into" post for the month of July it would be about how I've been reorganizing my apartment. My two roommates from last year moved out and three new women are moving in soon. July was my in-between time. I pushed furniture around, cleared out cabinet spaces, scrubbed and vacuumed.  While I occasionally started to get a bit lonely, I enjoyed the month of introverted bliss.

One of the main projects was to make sure that all of the three new ladies would have enough space. Last year it was just two of us for a while, and then when a third person moved in she didn't need much space. So, my things were quite spread out around the apartment. I've been re-organizing and condensing kitchen and bathroom shelves, emptying out what was an extra closet last year so that the fourth person could have it, and trying to maximize the space in my own closet and under my bed. 

I've been working hard to make sure that the space is as equitable as possible, but the bedrooms are different sizes and mine (that I'll share with one other person) is the big one. I realized I was battling some type of guilt over that, despite the fact that I was not the architect. Last year, when we were divvying up kitchen cabinets I took the smallest one, trying to be fair or generous or something, and soon found the tiny sliver of a cabinet unsuitable for my stock of various lentils and beans, vinegars and oils. In reorganizing the kitchen this past month - I arranged some of the dishes into that tiny cabinet, leaving one large cabinet free for each person's food storage. (One is slightly smaller, but I freed up a drawer for whoever gets that cabinet.)

The other night as I agonized over square inches, shelf space, and equitable 
proximity to power outlets,  it hit me, "I'm afraid I'm taking up too much space."


When I buy airline seats I am very methodical. I check the make and model of the plane on seat guru and analyze the inches of width in the seat design of various planes.  I choose my seat near the window, not for the view, but for the ability to lean my body into the unoffended wall and away from the presumed discomfort of my flight neighbor-to-be. On the morning of, I dress nicely to prevent the "lazy slob" description. I arrive early, so that I can board in the correct zone and slide into my seat before my row mates arrive and I have to squish my body through.

A few months ago, I flew stand-by. I jumped from gate to gate waiting on a flight, any flight to get me to my destination. A couple of minutes before takeoff my name got called. I made my way down the aisle of the almost-full plane and glanced at the letters above the seats and realized I had a middle seat. I took a deep breath as I saw my seat - one empty slot between two seats filled by slender men. "Excuse me, that's my seat!" I said with a smile. He got up and let me through. I avoided eye contact for fear of seeing annoyance or even disgust. I buckled my belt (relieved that it fit) and squeezed my arms together, pulling in my wide chest in the process. I made myself as narrow as possible.

Somewhere in the flight I relaxed out of necessity. One can only hold a squeezed-in position for so long. But as I relaxed and realized the world didn't end and my neighbors didn't huff in disgust I mentally relaxed as well. This is my body. It takes up this space. It deserves the space it inhabits. My neighbors' long legs were folded up awkwardly in the space between his seat and the one in front of us. His legs were not wrong, they are not committing some social travesty by needing more room to be comfortable. Neither was my width. Here, the airline had shrunk and crammed: every inch a dollar sign. Money was deemed more important than people. It was a choice I submitted to when I boarded a plane, but their focus on profit did not mean my body was wrong. My fellow passengers had made the same choice - to fly in a coach seat with unknown neighbors. 

Outline is Me. :) 

I'm no psychotherapist - but I'd call the fears of "taking up too much space," whether it's my body on a plane or my life in an apartment, related.  Realizing that connection helped me breath a little easier about the apartment sharing. I'm doing my best to set things up to be equitable. I'm more than open to the input of my future roommates and to share the things I have. The best I can do is be me and thankfully that is all that is required.

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