Pregnancy hormones have rendered me with zero patience these days, and several things that I either had gotten accustomed to or had just accepted are now bugging me all over again. Personal space, or the lack of it, is one of those things.
There are several cultural differences that I love here with regards to people's personal little bubble. Like, for example, I think it's great to greet friends with a hug and cheek kisses. I have no problem with people I know standing, sitting, or speaking a little closer to me than I, as am American, am used too. And I even understand when folks are pressed up against me on a crowded city bus.
It's mostly the standing in lines with strangers that gets to me the most these days. Yesterday at the grocery store was a very typical experience for me lately:
I am standing in line to check out, with four or five small things in my hands. I leave an American norm, probably 2-person, space between me and the person in front of me. As I patiently wait my turn in the long line, a man holding a large bunch of bananas comes up and steps right in front of me. Being accustomed to this routine, I wait about three seconds. The guys then turns to me and politely, but looking a little surprised, asks if I was in line. I smile and inform him I was; he apologizes and steps behind me to get in the back of the line. And when I say he steps behind me, I mean right behind me. I can feel his breath on the back of my neck. I take a half step forward to put a little distance between us. He proceeds to take a full step up. His bunch of bananas are ever so slightly brushing my back with each breath he takes. (I know this because I can still feel his breath on my neck.)
There is still some space between me and the next person in line, so I try my luck again and take another half-step forward, hoping he doesn't notice this time. The man behind me once again takes a full step forward, along with all the people now behind him in line. Now his bananas are poking firmly into the small of my back and I am all but sitting on the shoulders of the lady in front of me. And wouldn't you know the cashier was taking forever! Now, I probably was in this situation for less than 5 minutes, but man, oh man, it seemed like a lot longer. I told myself to take some deep breaths and relax. But each time I inhaled, my chest would expand and my boobs would touch the head of the woman in front of me (she was quite short, and I was very close to her by this time.) When I exhaled, the bananas would dig further into my back. I couldn't move to either side because there were shelves to my left and then someone had left a buggy just to my right between me and the other set of shelves. I was thoroughly stuck.
I am rather lucky that I can usually keep up appearances and maintain a nice pleasant exterior regardless of what is going on inside. And yesterday was no exception, but internally I kept repeating to myself, "calma, calma, calma . . ." because a real large part of me wanted to scream "everyone just back off already - alright!?!"
Yes, it appears that some days I still like my personal space bubble. Yesterday was obviously one of those days. And Eric is lucky he worked late last night. Had he come home immediately after my arrival back from the grocery store, I'm not sure how I would have responded to his 'Honey I'm home' hug and kiss!