About a month ago, my friend Ra texted me something that’s been on my mind since.
She said there was a Saturday evening aerobics class in prison. People who attended didn’t necessarily go because they wanted to do aerobics, but because they wanted to see other people. They wanted to be somewhere with someone, or many someones, with whom they had some kind of kinship …
… without having to seek or arrange a time and place.
When I lived in Japan, I was mobbed with hugs daily.
Those hugs were the tiny-armed hugs of the tiny-armed people I taught. I cherished those hugs, but I felt more and more starved by the day for hugs from adults: people who saw me as I truly was and loved me all the same.
I thought of myself as hug-starved, and I was.
Since having my second son two years ago, I have become so much more a hermit than ever before.
I miss my friends like mad. I miss going to movies, and to concerts, and for brunch and hikes and to art exhibits.
Most my friends probably can’t tell. And why? Because I’m barely in touch. But I’m not barely in touch because I’m not thinking of them, or because I’m not missing them.
I’m barely in touch because I can only keep up with, oh, one-quarter of the things I have to do now. I seldom make it through the bulk of my have-to’s and even less seldom through my really-should’s. Today, for example, my big score was cleaning up six months worth of heinousness under one car seat. It’ll probably be another six before I get under the other one.
There’s not enough time. There’s not enough energy. There’s not enough me.
Day by day, I feel more and more hug-starved … more and more alone … more and more … less.
(And it seems wild, because I have friends around the world. I know they love me, as I love them.
So why can’t I feel it, the same way I do a hug from a friend?
I feel so alone.)
When Ra sent that text last month, I thought about how much I miss seeing my friends with my eyes. Hugging them with my arms, and feeling their arms around me.
I thought how impossible it feels to arrange anything myself these days, not having enough time for the have-to’s as it is, at the same time my friends no longer invite me to events because, hey, when was the last time I said “yes,” anyway?
I thought about how nice it would be to have a place to go at a set time every week or month or quarter, knowing I might possibly see and get a hug from a long-missed friend.
I thought about how wild it is that I live so close to so many friends and yet feel so far away. I feel almost as hug-starved as I did in the middle of nowhere in Japan.
So I think, once a month, I’ll go sit in a coffee shop.
I’ll let my friends know I’ll be sitting there at the same time every month, and that they’re welcome to come or not, and talk or not.
(I’ve slept in the corner at many parties. If someone wants to come and read just knowing a friend is close by, rockin’. No need to say more than hey.)
I’ll let them know there’s a place they can go and be with someone who likes them … without having to plan anything, or coordinate, or hope that everyone doesn’t cancel last minute.
I’ll sit there and read if no one shows up. But if someone does show up, well, then,
I will soak up their presence, and hope that others out there know
they don’t have to feel perpetually hug-starved,
whether or not they show up for a hug.