Today, I realized that when I enter a classroom and choose a seat I always try to leave at least a one chair buffer zone between me and the next person on the row. This happens without premeditation. It is instinct. As a result I feel separated from my neighbors and melancholy. I don't like it and I'm not sure exactly why I do it. I do the same thing when I decide which urinal to use in the bathroom but that is totally different. The bathroom is not a place of social exchange. It is a place of privacy and sanctuary.
Today I decided to fight this unfriendly and antisocial instinct. I came into class and chose a seat next to a girl named (as I soon found out) Stephanie. She looked at me strangely as I sat down next to her and then carefully proceeded to look around me at the empty chairs filling the rest of the row. I could feel her wondering why I was sitting so close to her when there were so many available chairs farther away. We sat in a strange and thick (soupy) sort of silence for a few moments. I then told her that my name was Ben and that I was looking forward to spending the rest of class in her close company. She took a moment to process what I was telling her and then laughed loudly (very). We quickly became friends.
As I was talking to Stephanie I noticed that people were flowing into the class in groups and dripping into the class in singles. They each chose a seat as far away from human company as possible.
In elementary school boys didn't sit with girls and girls didn't sit with boys. Speaking from a boys perspective, it was because girls were gross and I didn't wish to be contaminated. I'm sure that girls also felt that boys were gross and that they were probably a lot more accurate in that assumption.
I thought about this as I sat in that class and watched people treat each other like diseased zombies who might attack at any moment with decay-spreading virus-infected teeth and claws. The difference is that now, in college, gender is no longer a variable. Everyone avoids everyone.
It's so strange.
I'm glad that I am realizing this. When I got home I listened to LCD Soundsystem's "I Can Change". I can change.
Go make a friend.