My experience of existential outsideness
A couple of years ago when I was just out of school, my best friend, James and I decided to go for a short trip to a nearby hill station. We planned everything in detail, pooled in enough money and were very excited to spend a few days on our own without any one to interfere. Just before the day we had to leave, James called up and told me that two boys who were his mother’s colleague’s sons would be joining us. I was not at all happy with this news but the excitement in my friend’s voice meant that he had no problem in letting them join us. I had no option but to agree with this latest development in our plan.
When I reached the station next morning to board the train, James and the two boys were already there. Half my excitement had gone. Seeing me in that apprehensive mood my fried whispered “ Oh! come on four is always better than two. Just wait and watch, all of us will have a blast together.” I was not quite sure about it but gave him a faint smile. I had met those boys for the first time but James knew them since their childhood. They use to often meet at some or the other family get together at their mothers’ office and even otherwise at private parties or picnics. So they became a group and I was feeling like an outsider.
All through the journey I wondered that how nice it would have been, if only James and I would have come. I tried my best to gel with them but was unable to do so. The three of them were busy talking about people whom they knew but I had nothing to contribute to. James was noticing that I was feeling a little awkward and was trying his best to make me comfortable in some or the other way. Whenever I tried to strike a conversation like “you know! Once during our sports function our sports teacher announced that whose overall performance would be best would be…” Before letting me complete those boys would say “Oh! Yes James had told us about this.” And I had to stop midway.
When we reached our destination the weather was pleasant but even in such beautiful surroundings, I was not happy. This was the first time in my life that I experienced existential outsideness. We went to different places for sightseeing, we had some great local food, we even indulged in extensive shopping but in spite of being with three people I was alone. After all, I was just James’s class fellow but they were his childhood friends and the three of them had many more things to share than what James and I had. I wanted to go back home. But leaving before the scheduled time would have been indecency. Also I didn’t want to let them know that such a close proximity between the three of them is hurting me.
At last, the day came when we had to leave. I was in the best mood that day. All through the train journey the three guys were feeling a bit low, just the same way that I had felt when we were heading towards the hill station. This time they were not conversing much but were listening to me. I even sang a few songs for them. James said to me “ you look merrier in returning back.” One of those two boys said “ how nice it would have been if we would have stayed a few days more.” I just smiled at him.
It was ten in the night when I reached home. I received a warm welcome from mom and dad. Each and everything of my house was looking so special to me. This was topophilia and I was able to understand it only after I experienced existential outsideness in the last few days.
Word count: 666
Seamon, D. (1996). A Singular Impact: Edward Relph’s Place And Placelessness. Vol.7
No. 3. Environmental And Architectural Phenomenology Newsletter. Pp.5-8.