the olden days: (re)thinking walking: taking up space

Posted by on Dec 12, 2015

I’ve been taking my kids to acupuncture. So far things have worked out very well. We all get into the car after a treatment and there is blessed quiet. Everybody chilling and feeling good in the same way makes for a happy ride back home!

I noticed something though. This last Saturday when we were at the clinic (me, W*, son and BabyBFP), everybody was settling in to their individual recliners, waiting for our poker lady to come poke us in turn. And as I looked over at BabyBFP, I started to get really anxious. She had brought her American Girl doll (which is about 21 inches long), several books, a huge pen with frilly feather thingys at the top, and then had also grabbed several pillows, three blankets, and had kicked her chair back as far as it would go. And then as she was settling in, she looked at me and asked where her water was. One of the women at the desk brought her over a cup so that I didn’t have to.

Yes, my daughter is a diva. ANd it’s something that I alternately enjoy and am horrified with. Right at that moment, I was horrified. Not only was she making GROWN UPS run water to her punk behind (and then she asks the poker lady, “Um, is there a table or something that I could put next to my chair to hold my water?” Yes, because we’re on a CRUISE LINE, child, and we’re all here to SERVE YOU), but she kept *taking up so much space*.

I kept thinking that over and over again as I watched her. She’s taking up SO much space! She’s being so HUGE with her personality. Look at her laying all her crap out like she OWNS the place! OMG, look at how much space she’s taking up!!

Only, she was taking up the same amount of space as everybody else there (one recliner), in fact, technically, she was taking up *less* space because she had all her crap laid out, there by boxing her in a bit more.

The whole time she was following the protocol of the clinic, whispering if she needed to talk, mostly not talking, staying on her chair, reading quietly so she wouldn’t disturb others–but I sat there, horrified, watching her. She asked for the water in a normal voice (as opposed to a snotty, where’s my water woman???), and was overall polite to the older folks there.

But she took up SO much space. Her belief that she had the right to spread out and be comfortable? Her belief that she had the right to ask for “extras” to improve her quality of comfort?

How dare she?

How dare *she*?

How *DARE* she take up that space? Or take it for granted that she has the *right* to comfort?

Especially when I, her mami, am 35 yrs old and still struggling through the whole “oh, I didn’t want to bother her” phenomenon? Especially when I, her 35 yr old mami, was just talking to a friend the other night, telling her about how there is literally 5 pictures of me in the whole house that are “post pregnancies”–because I am fat and ugly now, no longer the hot piece of ass I was pre-pregnancies, and I don’t want to offend other people by thinking that I have the right to have my picture taken.

As I told my friend, it’s like I’m erasing myself from history.

Erasing myself from existence–because my fat, ugly, old ass self doesn’t have the *right* to take up that space, right? You have to *earn* that right to take up that kind of space right?


I know in my head all about the politics of taking up space. Of women of color, girls of color, taking up space. Of marginalized bodies taking up space. Of how those bodies are punished and controlled and violated for the audacity of taking up space. I’ve spent the last year blogging and walking and doing activist work that is connected to examining and asserting the right to space–the right of all human beings to take up space–because space belongs to HUMANS, not capital or companies or the nation/state.

But when my heart sees my cocky little girl setting up three pillows and thee blankets on a fully opened chair so that she can throw her legs over the side and read while her health gently takes care of itself????

I cringe.

We all have so much untraining to do within ourselves. So much “hegemony” that has implanted itself in our souls and guts like the alien creature Sigourney Weaver had to kill over and over again. And we’ll only ever recognize it in us by doing what it is that we’ve been trained to think we aren’t supposed to do, like my daughter. It’s only sometimes that we recognize the pattern…

Yelling at our kids so that they’re smaller ….
Beating our kids so that they’re smaller….
Silencing our kids so that they don’t disturb…
Ignoring our kids because they haven’t “earned the right” to do…

Refusing a photograph, refusing a hug, cleaning when we’re too tired, saying yes when it hurts, smiling when you dont want to…

A movement most certainly needs marches, parades, flyering, chanting and collective action.

But it also needs those moments–those moments where a mami keeps her damn mouth shut and thinks about why her tongue is begging to do some lashing. And it needs those moments as well, where whole communities sit and think about why tongue lashings are embraced so hard even when tongue lashings are really alien creatures in disguise.

And it needs those moments where individuals and whole communities talk about how to blast that fucking alien to shreds AND what to do with the lashing tongue when it is anxious to start up. What other glorious things are there for that tongue to do? What other things are there for it to do when it is stressed out and unnerved?

And who knows how much energy that tongue would have if it stopped wasting all it’s time licking alien claws?

Would it make us free?