My grandma always says, “The best thing about a hug is that you always get one back.” She loves my partner Steve because he is a fantastic hugger. He’s one of those guys who wraps you in a blanket of love and compassion – even if you don’t think you’ve earned it. He has this way of saying hello to strangers like they’re old friends. He has this beautiful magic about him.
Me? I’m not a hugger. I don’t know how to acknowledge strangers – mostly because I’m awkward AF, but a little because I can’t figure out the perfect formula of friendliness and not-too-closeness.
You see, not-too-closeness is my comfort zone. My default setting. I like to have everything at an arm’s length. Well, except for my snacks.
It’s why my friend Buehner is a complete friendship mystery. She lives in the “way-too-close-for-comfort” zone. One of our grad school professors once commented, “I don’t get it. How are you friends?” I don’t have a good answer to this, except that the Universe tends to give you exactly what you need, when you need it. Even if you don’t know it yet. Buehner’s programmed to pull and I’m hardwired to push.
Not-too-closeness is why I don’t hold babies. I’m afraid people will see my euphoric state when I draw in a breath of That Smell. You know the one – the scent that can only come from a newborn’s squishy head. I’m afraid you’ll see all of my insecurities and vulnerabilities – that you’ll figure me out in one quick sniff.
My friend Tal is like this, too. We have wild dreams, but we don’t want people to know that we’re just wading through the suck like the rest of the world. It’s why our relationship goes through periods of radio silence – because we know how talented the other is. And we don’t want to let the other down, despite the fact that we’re cheering so so hard for us both to succeed.
If you can keep a secret though, I long for the closeness that requires people to see your messy, beautiful soul. So much so that I’m envious of people who hug and kiss and laugh with the ease of taking in air. While their love pours out, I hold mine in.
That is, until I can’t hold it in any more.
I know deep down that love wasn’t meant to be hidden away like buried treasure, but to be celebrated like each day is a special occasion. Even the best wines turn to vinegar if you don’t drink them soon enough.
And ya’ll know how I feel about wine.
I’ll start slowly and maybe you can come along. Grab yourself a glass, it’s an occasion. It’s hello and goodbye and congratulations and welcome home, my friends. Welcome home.