08 October 2008

Touch

A funny thing happen at my internship this week....A co-worker hugged me.  

As most of my friends know, I'm not a touchy-feely type.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my friends and family.  Probably more than they realize.  Maybe even to stalker-esque capacity.  I love the wonderful people I am lucky enough to have in my life.  I'm just not so crazy about touching them.  

I should re-state that.  I don't touch the people in my life.  It's not that I am opposed to touching/hugging my friends and family, I just don't do it on a regular basis. 

Perhaps that is an odd thing, but not if you come from my clan.  Actually, I am the most touchy person in my family.  Other than hugging my parents when we say goodbye, which are usually initiated by me, I can't really think of an instance in which my family hugs.  It's just not our thing.  That is absolutely no reflection  of how we feel about each other--we are incredibly close.  We're just rather reserved folks, I suppose.  True WASPs.

The first time I met my friend C's mom, she enveloped me in one of the biggest hugs I've ever received.  I have to admit, I was freaked out.  Those are the types of hugs I reserve for friends I haven't seen in years or my Lucy-dog (yes, I hug my dog more than my family.  So what? She loves it).  I received a similar hug from a co-worker, whom I've only known for a month, after I delivered a bag of baked goodies to her office.  I was completely taken aback.  

However, the reason I was throw off was not because the hug wasn't welcome.  It was because it was so very welcome.  That hug made me realize how infrequently I touch or am touched by other people.  Ignoring the recent funeral (which ranks right up there with weddings for hug-giving), I cannot even remember the last time I hugged someone (although I'm sure C. hugged me last time I saw her!).  

As a single girl, maybe this is just a fact of life:  no man, no hugging.  Touch is a metaphor for intimacy--as Americans, we generally only touch those people who we care about and are close to (Note:  Other cultures seem to avoid this pitfall).   Hugging is amazingly restorative and healing--the literal reaching out and giving of comfort.  It's a simple way to say, "Hey, I care about you enough to risk smelling your unwashed hair and stale perfume."  And it's so damn simple.  So simple, in fact, that I didn't even realize I missed it.  

Sans man, I suppose I'll have to rely upon random co-workers and C. to give me a little bit of feel-good lovin' every once in awhile.  Even for a girl of my WASPy background, that's a depressing little reality.  So I'll be grateful for those random hugs I receive, even when they come from unexpected sources.  
 

6 comments:

Lauren said...

The more I read your blog, the more I'm convinced that you are my hetero soulmate. :-P I also come from a family of non-touchers, which has made me reserved when it comes to touching.

You're right though, it is kind of sad that touching is often limited to intimacy. It is so much more than that, and something that we as humans genuinely need. Perhaps we can start a new trend. Hugging could be the new black.

heather said...

K--

I think that one word in your post sums up your entire point: WASPy. In this great big, multi-ethnic, regionalist country of ours, we have local mores and customs. We refer to people on the continent as doing things in a European manner, but differentiate in hair-splitting detail among the customs of Midwesterners, Southerners, and Californians, etc. Touch, as you note, is one of the most distinct of those differences. As a Southern/country girl from a huge-assed Fundamentalist family, I was raised to hug everybody all the time -- at church, in the grocery store, whatev. It kind of squigged me out to the point that I became a little more judicious about doling out the old shoulder-to-shoulder action.

Now I find that I'm like an appellate justice who doesn't quite want to set policy on the matter: I judge my hugs on a case by case basis. It depends on how much I like you, how glad I am to see you, and, quite frankly, on my mood at the moment.

Except for Max. I totally agree that dog hugs are better! ;)

*hugs*

h

Mandy said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'll be back to read some more.

I dont hug my aunts or grandparents, but one of my best friends is Italian. They hug, hug, AND hug.

legaleagle2009 said...

Your post made me smile...about half way through my travel abroad semester was I was really depressed...I realized that I hadn't been hugged since I left home! My family is very touchy feely but it was crazy when I hadn't had one in a while :D I am glad you got such a great hug!!

Katie said...

heather--don't you know? i have the poster family for WASPs.

sometimes i even freak myself out by offering a hug before my brain has really conceptualized what that means. or when i've had one too many adult beverages.

you should have seen me when i first arrived in chile...everyone, and i mean EVERYONE, greets you with a cheek kiss and a hug, each time you see them. my WASP/american came out, BIG TIME.

Anonymous said...

I'm a hugger. Although, my family isn't a big hugging family, so I like to think I started becoming a hug addict to show my rebellious side. It's cheaper than cocaine and doesn't get me thrown in the clink if I get caught doing it. Ahh, my parents raised such a rebellious child.