Monday, September 8, 2014

Personal Space

I called TBG as Miss Vicki pulled out of the parking space downtown, last Friday night.

"Checking in?" she asked in a neutral tone; if there's judgment she's never oblique.

"Just letting him know when I'll be home."

"Call and let me know how late you'll be" was the kind of request that drove me over the edge.  Come with me if you need to know.  I'm a big girl.  What, are you my mother?  I'm not saying my responses were rational or correct or worthy of my otherwise impeccable status as a grown up.  I'm just telling you what they were.

Then, I almost died.

Suddenly, what was cloying and smothering was less about me and all about him.  Calling home with an approximate ETA, then calling back to say that plans have changed and we're going out for dinner is no longer a burden.  It's not intrusive; it's expansive

It's a gift I can give. It can unwrap the PTSD knot that still haunts him. 

I was a snarky New Yorker before bullets made me famous.  One of the ways all those people live in such close proximity to one another is by maintaining a sense of personal space.  You stand next to but not on top of the person next to you, waiting for the light to change.  Hugs were not part of the Hello-How-Are-You sequence when I was growing up.  A handshake was quite enough, thank you.

Then, I got shot.  My face and my story were widely shared; people wept along with me. They also hugged me.  Sometimes they asked permission, often, especially in the early days, they couldn't help themselves.  I was smothered against the breasts of strangers more often than I care to remember. 

I had two choices - to yelp and withdraw or to go with the flow.  I went where the love took me.  Shopping for a melon became an adventure in reliving the most awful time in my life.  I wasn't fast enough to escape inquiring shoppers, and I never developed a way to close the subject without engaging or enraging.  I felt as though I owed it to those who had held me in their hearts. 

Again, it was less about me and all about them.

Sunday morning, Brenda Starr and I walked and went out for breakfast.  We were waiting for the burro she was bringing home to Tim, chatting about everything and nothing when a middle aged couple walked in, she in jeans and a frilly top, he with a weapon holstered on his hip.

Brenda Starr told me to leave if I needed to, but I sat, and I thought, and I held myself back from asking him why in heavens name he needed a gun in order to eat eggs on a sunny Sunday morning... from asking him if he was licensed and trained.... from asking him if he was a good guy or a hungry bad guy waiting to rob the place after finishing his blue corn waffles. 

I had pieces of the conversation with the cashier and a waitress as we paid the bill. They didn't know what the owner's opinion on guns in the restaurant was, but they would certainly ask her ... in honor of Christina-Taylor ... and of what a shame it was ... and it's breakfast for goodness sakes.

Does his personal space trump mine?  Is his world that violent?  Must he be armed at all times?  Unless he has a badge, I don't feel comfortable sitting behind him and his handgun and his bullets and his turkey and sage sausage patty. 

What if he decided to hug me and the gun went off?


  1. I cannot and will not visit any establishment that allows guns on their premises. None of us know that guy's intentions and why do people need a gun to have breakfast or go grocery shopping? It's more about their statement than anything else and I find it quite annoying. If you need a gun to go for a meal or to go shopping, you have some serious mental health issues that need to be addressed. And if you have mental health issues, you shouldn't be anywhere near a gun.

    Why should we have to figure out if the person has good or bad intentions? Wouldn't it be easier to just leave the gun at home so people are not having to guess?

    Ugh! Sorry, I'm in a mood today.

    Megan xxx

    1. As was pointed out when Brenda Starr wrote about this in her newspaper column, we have concealed carry here in AZ. I'm working on a post about "should I be scared all the time b/c I can't see the guns or is it just the sight of them?"


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