Proxemics

“Back off Dude! Get out of my personal bubble! ”

Those were the only words I ever got from her. She’s not your ordinary woman though she’s childish, adult, sensible, unreasonable – usually one when she should be the other. She’s very pretty although not necessarily in an obvious way. She’s lithe as cat, muscular shoulders, and nubile breasts. Her hair, black and straight, moves as soft prairie grass in summer wind. It gives contrast to her face, sweetly dark upon soft brown skin. She’s painfully hot and beautiful- but clearly from a social class and geographical orientation whose standards for displaying beauty are not based on subtlety. Her vulnerable quality masks a strength even she doesn’t know exists. Her name, as tough to pronounce as approaching her, is Shisoh.

Shisoh and me we go from way back. We go to the same church and have mutual friends, so we have followed each other on Instagram for a while. I can’t say, though, that her posts bubbled to the top of my feed often, nor do I know when, exactly, I started peeking more intentionally at her account, informing myself of her goings-on. In just three days I had known all about her routine, her worries, her likes and dislikes, her desires and wishes. Then it was daily updates on her whereabouts and whatever she was up to. I remember staring, not in one occasion, at her posts and making up our first meeting.

Maranatha Flats, house 403. The room is nearly empty… A chair, a table, a bed. Next to the bed, just where a lamp would normally sit, is a generic wireless portable Bluetooth speaker playing Okello’s nakufa. She’s seated on the chair, legs crossed, one hand alternating between brushing her hair and trying to pull her dress past the knees, unsuccessfully, and the other holding Scrabble tiles. Her eyes are fixed on the board rarely catching me stealing glance at her. Standing on the other side of the table arranging tiles on the board and starting random conversations. I wish touching her was possible as the questions I threw at her were not what I really felt. I wanted to touch her since humans are hard-wired to be social. Touch, specifically, triggers part of the brain and releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone. Hugging reduces stress levels and, ultimately, helps us fight infection, even. How odd, that the thing that normally keeps us healthy is the thing that could hurt us right now…

I had to ask her out first.

It was one of those Sundays. The service was unusually long and everyone was rushing for the door as soon as the closing prayer was said. I’m not the kind who would want to be sorry for stepping on you while scrambling for the exit, I stay back ‘digesting’ the day’s sermon. I chose to turn deaf ears to the closing song for to raise one’s voice in song within the church is of no purpose if the heart doesn’t do the same. My heart was far from being at peace, it was in pieces and fixing it is what I came to church for. The doorway was clearing away, I stood, looked around and just as I walked towards the door, I spotted Shisoh seated on the pew two rows ahead. This was God telling me to fix my heart, or so I thought. He works in mysterious ways. This is an opportunity from Him, I had to take it. Normally there would be fear, not just fear of rejection, but of judgment and embarrassing myself. The only thing on my mind was, ‘Don’t stare at her boobs, don’t stare at her boobs, eye contact.’ I did everything right, well, almost everything as I couldn’t just make the eye contact. So I went straight to her and sat close enough bumping my elbows onto her waist. I smiled at her sheepishly and what happened next is an origin story for another time. She spoke…

‘Personal bubble’ is what was on my mind days after the scene. Now I know. I know how it feels when someone moves too close, the feeling is ancient. How it feels when someone pees right next to me when they can employ a gap urinal. I know. I know of the discomfort in the elevator when we’re only two and the stranger stands right In front of me. The adrenaline rush of a mother whose child has been abujubujud by the thoughtful man whose intentions are pure, I know. I know.

Tell Shisoh I know.

-Hillary

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