Spaces under control

Abdelhamid Niati
4 min readAug 22, 2021


Photo by Arto Marttinen on Unsplash

Leaving my house, I turn my back to the street while I lock my door. I am slow to face the asphalt to avoid perceiving the changes in my urban ecosystem and my visual space too quickly. Buildings have grown over the days. Despite common sense and good taste with the sole objective of crushing me a little more, restricting myself, and ultimately pushing me to no longer want to go out one day. This house is my parents’ house. I took my first steps there, said my first words, learned to ride a bike, read my first lines, wrote my first words. So far from being a simple inheritance, my father built it with his hands and genius to carve out his family’s urban space. Nature lover, the green man, has planted 2 fig trees. Unique trees, shelters for wildlife and humans. Natural air conditioning with a lifespan of up to 300 years. So I can’t give it up.

I tell myself that and walk up the street to go to the streetcar, preferring to look at the ground; the horizon is short. Here the ambitious gaze is measured and controlled not to suffocate too much as the buildings also nibble the sidewalk. Once the trash cans are out, I have to venture out onto the asphalt transforming myself into a car or instead into a “humano vehiculus,” (*)The only bodysuit. Once at the tram stop, again the same faces, the same silences, the same shifty glances, the same urban dodging. Years of sharing that same rectangle on the asphalt and births that everyone ignores. We partially share this space. It is inert and remains inert. How do our presences change from few shadows when the sun shines or contrasting traces when the snow covers the ground? Almost no added value in this space, which only asks to be alive. It seems that each person optimizes their strength for the rest of the journey.

The iron caterpillar arrives, and we are sucked inside to gauge ourselves so as not to see his private sphere nibbled away. The promiscuity of social classes is found here and cramped, sometimes at home and at work, to close the loop of the default contortionist who is choking too tightly together and not living his life. What distance to put between us? How do I get to those gorgeous green eyes that I see further away?

How do you cross this space without nibbling away at other people’s freedom or doing it as quickly as possible?

I don’t have the solution, but our eyes are synchronized and reduced during a trip. I no longer count in rows, but heartbeats. The area here takes on a relative form. My heart and obeys like a sonar. The more our eyes are engaged, the stronger our pulsations are.

The promiscuity has just disappeared. I ignore it because my desire is more robust than anything. Love moves mountains, and I believe in it. My body is in the same place, but my heart has left the area to become one with this soul with beautiful eyes.

Magnificent look. Through these eyes, I can see your heart; I can see your soul.

We stop, the doors open, and the gaze disappears, the distance grows, my heart threatens to destroy, the object of my love has just flown away. I can’t get over the idea that I don’t have enough control over my space. Too much power we stress, and not to control, we lose.

What balance should be applied to the spaces that make up our existence?

At my workplace, I badge, take the elevator with the others, and after a ritual hello, we feel the common desire to get out of this metal box. Once stuck, we might be able to get to know each other by force of circumstance. People improve in times of crisis. The last confinement is more nuanced. Sharing one’s space too much, by being too restricted, the soul suffocates from not being able to find the outside again and from the repetition of a daily routine. This is when I feel happy with the space I have. We are unequal as to which one we have. 9m² for some and an additional garden for others, how to share even more when you have more. Sharing our space makes it challenging to do so, and the tramway stop is a good illustration of this. Once the door is closed, my office allows me to work quietly until my colleague comes in to speak with me and thus consume my private sphere, my oxygen, and my future reading at lunchtime. I have to talk to him because I can see the distress in his eyes. He appreciates me, it is mutual, and it behooves me to welcome his sorrows as the good brother I am. Goodbye, my reading, my solo lunch.

Ultimately, space comes down to a lot of concession and being content with what you have.

The ultimate solution consists of creating your own space for each day, each moment. Sharing spaces and areas mean, meet other people, meet love.

(*) Neologism created by me for this article

Abdelhamid NIATI

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Abdelhamid Niati

Writer, content manager and business coach. I am also the Head of people and the Content Manager for a non profit organisation created in Africa.