Two Big Hugs

The first was around noon. The roommate who shares a room with me is heading to Utah to visit family for a couple of weeks, then she’s off to Nauvoo, Illinois to work at a pageant for the Church. She’ll be gone all summer. She’s a great roommate: clean, considerate, easy to talk to. We’ve gotten to be good friends over the past few months.

The second was at Payson Playground in my neighborhood, where my friend Heather Jones was in town from Kazakhstan, and I hadn’t seen her in about a year and a half. She’s as beautiful as ever, and her wonderful children have grown up so quickly. When it came time for me to go, Heather, who’s nearly six feet tall, bent down for a proper farewell embrace. It really warmed my heart to see her again.

People’s hugging styles are vastly different. I understand polite hugging if you don’t know the person very well and maybe one of you has a cold or maybe leprosy, but among close friends? I grew up hugging one way: the giant squeeze. This is how I prefer my hugs, but I’ve grown more accepting of those who hug with a lot less touching and pressure. Fine, I get your method of affection, and I’m grateful, but I don’t think that should qualify as a hug.

Here are a few simple rules about hugging me:

1. I’m very easy to hug. I’m little, kind of like a teddy bear, and people are always putting their arms around me.

2. It’s better to match heights somehow. Either I’ll get taller or you’ll have to bend down, but an effective hug is when both parties can create a tight embrace circumference.

3. You’re not going to break me. Everyone knows how therapeutic hugs are, how the squeezing releases certain neurotransmitters that help calm and comfort and cheer. Just because I’m not all that big doesn’t mean I’m fragile.

4. Don’t be scared. Citing previous reasons – little, huggable, sturdy, and willing to hug big in return or even first. There’s no way that’s scary.

You guys better get your practice in. You’ll need to be ready if I end up leaving the city.

Brooding

Tori Amos has this song, “China”:

China all the way to New York
I can feel the distance getting close
You’re right next to me
But I need an airplane
I can feel the DISTANCE as you breathe

Sometimes I think you want me to touch you
How can I when you build a great WALL around you
In your eyes I saw a future together
You just look away in the distance

China decorates our table
Funny how the CRACKS don’t seem to show
Pour the wine dear
You say we’ll take a holiday
But we never can agree on where to go

Sometimes I think you want me to touch you
How can I when you build a great WALL around you
In your eyes I saw a future together
You just look away in the distance

China all the way to New York
Maybe you got lost in MEXICO
You’re right next to me
I think that you can hear me
Funny how the distance learns to grow

Sometimes I think you want me to touch you
How can I when you build a great WALL around you
I can feel the distance
I can feel the distance
I can feel the distance getting close

The wall feels present. Unignorable. I’ve developed closeness, and then I’ve made room for distance. Is this a defense mechanism? because it’s definitely not deliberate. I think it’s what I’ve always done. I have a healthier perspective on things these days, so whatever this is is going to work out.

Relationships feel funny lately. Not ha-ha funny, but off. Just slightly. Enough to notice. Maybe it’s just something I’m not used to. Finding words for it is particularly challenging right now. Like I really have to dig. Work my way through or around or under that wall.

Auspices

Eight million people corral themselves through this city every day.

We ride the subways with dozens of strangers in the same car.

So much potential in a stranger.

And it has to be the right stranger.

Rightly strange.

Just one.

Sometimes I put off writing about certain experiences, just because I’m afraid it’ll jinx me.

Maybe I’m a little superstitious that way.

Like I actually believe in coincidences.

I believe in opportunity, though.

I can promise you that.