Closet Claustrophobe…

All of us have these little things that make us, well, us.  For instance, like many others, I’m often found complaining that I need to lose 5 or 10 pounds, haven’t had time to exercise, or just have waaaaaaay too many things on my plate.  Actually, I do have one quirk which makes me, me.  Every night when I finally get the chance to relax after getting the kids to bed and the house tidied from the whirlwind that is the 10 year old and 7 year old, I wish to myself that I had the fastest metabolism in the world.  All I want more than anything is to have a banquet-sized feast complete with fettucine alfredo, roast beef, spaghetti, and some very delicious Armenian delicacies (like mantee and dolma!) without ANY consequences.  When I’ve admitted this to Mr. Niceguy he’s responded with, “Oooh, that sounds like fun!”  Actually, it sounds more like the answer to all my prayers…!

But one of my bigger quirks?  I am a closet claustrophobe.  By that I mean, I am claustrophobic – some of the time.  And I don’t make a big deal about it but I’m never sure when it will strike.  There are guaranteed moments, however.  For example, if I’m at a party and the music is just pumping and I’m really into the groove well, it doesn’t really matter how squished I am…until the girl behind me starts elbowing me and the sweaty guy dancing with her keeps inching into my personal space and I can feel his sweat invading my atmosphere and oh, there’s a drop and I’m about to lose my mind while I try to figure out how to break away on the one hand, and find room to show off all my moves on the other!



It’s an odd feeling, claustrophobia.  And it’s particularly harrowing when it just creeps up out of nowhere.  I wonder…maybe I was made for wider spaces – less density.  And then, when I have all the space I could want, I feel like I’m haunted by ghosts.  Where is the happy medium?

I recall one of the first times I realized I had claustrophobic tendencies.  Mr. Niceguy and I had travelled to the fabulous Greek island of Mykonos – I know I write about Mykonos often but you see, once I discovered that little piece of heaven on Earth, I made it my mission to be there nearly 3 years in a row!  Ooooh…when I think of those times… 

The schedule was marvelous:  awake sometime around 11am – just in time to have the last ham and cheese pastries at the little bakery around the corner.  Then, walk through the deserted windy, cobblestone paths flanked on either side with whitewashed walls and blue-shutter-framed windows to catch the bus to Elia beach.  All day long we would lie for hours on our rented loungers, counting time by the sun’s position and our deepening tans (ok, in reality also counting time by the number of cigarettes smoked, Coca Light’s and the number of songs listened to on my discman).  Aaaaah…paradiso. 

When the tans couldn’t get any deeper, we would head back to the bus and into town to start the night’s festivities that would carry well into the wee hours of the morning.  Only one day, at the end of a successfully two-shades-darker-suntan day, there was an accident on the road which blocked the entire road leaving our bus stopped on an incline on a very tall hill (there’s only one main road that travels around the whole island).  The bus was packed with beachgoers eager to get back into town.  Of note here is that the bus…was packed…with sweaty beach goers….at the end of a very hot day…crowding the aisles, with their arms raised to hold the safety bars along the top – sweat and hairy armpits everywhere.  Oooh, and did I mention that in Greece when the bus stops on the top of a hill because of a minor motorbike accident in the middle of the only road it also turns off its engine?  Yes.  Important detail.  No air.  And the bus was so old that the windows would barely crack open.

I thought I would black out – blacking out would have been a welcome respite from my suffering in that wretched, hot hell – can’t you just feel how awful it was?  Only I wasn’t so lucky.  I recall turning into my own armpit trying to shield myself from my surroundings.  I recall wishing I had an inside seat and wasn’t standing.  I recall the cute brown leather change purse that a Brazilian girl was carrying and how it would be my salvation – every stitch counted, the pattern of leather committed to memory…all so that I could cope with the cold sweat trickling down my back which had nothing to do with the temperature and everything to do with feeling like a sardine.

The most glorious being, of course, when we finally made it off that bus and I could breathe deeply and normally, stretch out my arms and legs and just be grateful for life!  I believe I started skipping back to our hotel…or perhaps I was skipping because it was dinnertime…

I would say that was probably my first and most significant experience with claustrophobia.  Thankfully I learned from that situation.  Like to always try and find a seat on the subway during rush hour.  Or to always sit by an operational window.  On elevators I almost never stand in the centre. When going out with friends and there’s an odd number, I often try to be next to the empty seat.  And I almost never walk ahead because I feel like the person walking behind is going to catch me.  It’s a funny quirk…perhaps it’s all the extra space I need for all of my baggage?  Who knows.

In any case, if we’re ever having a heart-to-heart and I subtly start to back away…well, let me.  It’s not that I’m not interested or listening, it’s just that I could use a little room.  And if you do figure out how I can have a banquet-sized-meal before bed and lose weight at the same time, well, I’ll definitely lean in a little closer!