This essay is being brought back from a suggestion of Lisa P., who recently commented:
I think I need to write an essay on hugs. I believe a hug is the ultimate statement of acceptance. I will add that Anonymous deserved that hug; not only did she act kindly, but she also spoke loudly for us all when she did. You try to be kind, I try to be kind, Anonymous tries to be kind — we are just regular folks doing our thing world, so why not cut us some slack?!Lisa P., August 31, 2022 “Letters From Friends”
The original post was written well before the pandemic, then updated during the pandemic, so I’ll just run it as it ran most recently during the heart of the pandemic.
In these strange days, I most miss these: hugs. Honestly, I don’t expect to receive another one (outside of my wife) for at least another year, maybe more. It probably is not be safe to hug our daughters, if I even get to see them. That is sad, but true. #thisblows
All of my life (up until my self acceptance) there were a few things I hated. Having my picture taken, smiling only unless prompted by something and hugging. You can probably tell I have tackled the picture and the smiling thing. Well, I have also taken to hugging. I love hugs! I have frequently challenged myself to go out and get hugs from three total strangers. I have accomplished it often!
I talked about my (then) church. I frequently got hugged by the greeter, who opened the door for me (and everyone else). I could easily log 5-10 hugs with in my first 15 minutes there and got many more during the time of greeting that is part of the services. Here are some memorable hugs:
Months back I was working at the art museum’s monthly MIX! party. My partner (we are partnered up for whatever our task is that evening) and I were checking out a new exhibit before we started. Two African-American ladies were doing the same. One started chatting with me and we talked about how we all just need to spread love, love one another. Nice chat. Then she turns to me and asks if she can give me a hug. Of course!
A few summers back I decided to do some shopping and stopped at a favorite store of mine, New York & Company [RIP NY&C!]. I gather a few dresses and go into a fitting room. While attempting to fit into a size 0 (my eyesight is not what it used to be), I hear a mother and her adult daughter in the adjacent room. I ask the SA to get me the dress in a 10 (that’s more like it). I am chuckling listening to my neighbors. The SA returns with the proper size and I step out to check myself in the mirror. It ends up the daughter is wearing the same gingham dress! Long story short, I have Mom take a picture of me and her daughter and we talk and get to know each other. The visit ends up with multiple hugs!
I work for a community theater group, as I have discussed, Mercury Theatre Company. We (yes, I do say “we”) performed La Cage Aux Folles. There were a number of “girls” in the show (ranging from high school to recent college graduates). Apparently they all took a shine to little ol’ me. The first night I was there many of them came up to me and thanked me for being there, wrapping me in big hugs, often during the show.
Working an event for the North Coast Men’s Chorus (I usually am the raffle ticket girl) is a long line of one hug after another. So cool! [We are getting back to normal, but sadly, many charities will never recover.]
I was bound and determined for a “regular” girl day many months back. Just got up, dressed and ran some errands. Strangely, I felt more feminine that day than I do many days when I am more dressed up (wore jeans, a sweater and boots). The cool thing was that I got two complements in Walmart. I walked into Macy’s at the mall, I could not have been in there for 30 seconds when an SA ran up to me and with a “Hey Girl!” (love that) and went on to tell me how much she liked the boots I was wearing in that store last time, probably 3 months prior (how did she remember?)! We, of course, ended up hugging quite a bit.
Well anyway…..I could go on and on. Yes, I am probably unique as I have reached that stage in my life where I don’t really care what others (beside loved ones) think of me. That in itself gives one “courage”. I radiate happiness. And while I fool NO ONE, I do present myself with class and dignity and all of these seem to endear me to many. But there is nothing like a big hug!
Last story. I had a vintage store that I frequented, buying a lot of jewelry there. The proprietor is a sweet woman. Her 80+ year old parents both work there, Bob and Natalie. Bob talks to me like it’s no big deal I am standing there in a dress and make up. We often have long conversations. Natalie loves me and I her. We hug and hold each other while we talk often. Very heartwarming. Sure, she refers to me as “he”, but given her generation, I don’t mind. It’s that unconditional acceptance that I find intoxicating. [I visited the store the day before house arrest took effect and I came to find out the store is now out of business, that one hurt.]
So if you see me, odds are pretty good, I’ll be looking for that hug [and I get that you won’t hug me back, six feet everyone]!