I had to be the shoulder to cry on last week to two new friends. One because of terrible news from home of a relative’s death, the other from having to say goodbye to her boyfriend who stayed only for the weekend. As I put my arms around each one, I felt very keenly, how I was purposely causing the “space” between to disappear. And for the first time in the past couple of weeks, I didn’t mind.
Space—a word that people do not generally associate with Asians. But as a friend once said, and only half-jokingly, “Those who generalize, generally lies.” How true! Because in my case, space is so important. If I could get a restraining order out and keep people at about an arm’s length away, I would…generally.
Now that I am back to dormitory living, space is fast becoming a rare and, therefore, precious commodity. When I was shown to my room a couple of weeks ago, I felt relief wash over me just realizing that I don’t need to share my room with somebody else. But the relief was short-lived since a closed door does not seem to guarantee unlimited enjoyment of private space.
Well, wholly my fault, too if you think of it. My extroverted nature started making friends to the detriment of my introverted side. And so like Smeagol and Gollum, the battle rages, and the points actually go to the extroverted side. You see, I cannot ignore a knock on my door, even though I should actually bury myself under a pile of books stacked up beneath my desk.
But as I hugged a sobbing friend, I realize that part of what makes one human is the need for comfort from community and a sense of belonging—which I would not find if I choose to simply stay within the space. You cannot hug yourself properly, nor can you cry on your own shoulder.
It’s reassuring to know that one day when I myself will need a hug, I will get one.So you see, Simon and Garfunkel, I can't be a rock, nor a mountain.