Part Two: On Learning to Be
Surely he must be 7 feet tall. His hairy arms are the size of tree trunks, his shoulders are as broad as barn doors and he carries the brute strength of a grizzly.
His reputation runs community-wide. I think everyone knows.
My grandfather has always been a giant among men. When I was a child, he would saunter down the field, duck through our doorway and call my name.
When my little feet scurried over to meet him, his baseball mit hands would swoop under my armpits, lift me up, tuck my face into his neck and proceed to provide the most soul-filled straight to the heart hug known to the world. My grandfather is a hugger. Friends and relatives travel near and far in the hopes of very nearly passing out to smell of love and Old Spice. His full body squeeze makes the world disappear for a brief moment, mostly due to lack of oxygen.
I’ve spent many a Saturday in my Dad’s boat, ebbing and flowing. He’s not a sailor. His boat was docked in the space between where his body was laying down and the back of the couch. Dad’s boat ebbed and flowed with his deep heavy breaths. The sounds of the ocean were his snores in my ears, blocking the sound of the TV. I would get trapped under his heavy muscled arm with the round scar from his childhood vaccination. I thought that scar made him tough, I always wished I had one too. I would lay down in his boat and try to match the rhythm of my breathing to his hoping my Mom would notice and whisper to herself how much we were alike. Eventually I would drift off to sea beside him. My Dad is a hugger. Sometimes his grandkids will get in the boat, when he can convince them the tide is coming in.
Yes, I grew up not wanting for affection. It was only an arms’ reach away and available with every lonesome sounding sigh.
As an adult, I have now developed a certain reputation.
Perhaps it was formed in my teen years when everything was particularly embarrassing, especially any type of healthy affection. Or maybe it came from my boss hugging me one time. In my awkwardness, I somehow accidentally inhaled her hair. Not knowing how to rescue myself from this situation or having any type of finesse, I just let her hair be in my mouth until the hug was over. She must have walked away wondering why in the hell her hair was wet. Perhaps it was a combination of awkward encounters such as this and others that I’ve surely repressed but I can tell you this: I am not a hugger.
My reputation runs community-wide. I think everyone knows.
I wasn’t really that aware of my reputation until I had my first child and complained to my friend that my baby was a squirmy-non-snuggling thing. My friend laughed at my misfortune and told her mother to which her mother replied, “Well would you expect any different, it is Jodi that’s her mother.” This was a good indication that my non-hugging status was formalized along with relentless complaints from my koala bear of a boyfriend that I’m cold as ice.
Lately, what would seem like a non-issue in everyday living has become a concern thanks to a certain crowd I’ve been hanging around. While I can tell you that I’m not a hugger, I can also tell you this: Yogis are huggers. They hug you for showing up, they hug you for leaving, they hug you for drinking water, breathing deeply, telling them a story, clearing your nasal passages, smiling at them, wiping the sweat from your brow and standing, sitting or laying in one spot. And they hug you for a long time. And don’t let go until they connect their energy with yours. And this makes the world go round.
It’s not that I don’t want to hug you. I really and truly do. I want to put my arm around your shoulders and squeeze you into my armpit. I want to take your gorgeous cheeks and squish them into a fish face. I want to stand you upright, straighten your shoulders, display you like a prize on the Price is Right and in a Parisian accent say, “Superrrr cool”.
But for now, I’m still learning to be. Learning to be exactly who I am rather than who I think you think I should be. So for now, I will gladly accept your hugs because they make me feel good about myself. And when I see you, I’ll let out a sigh and tell how happy I am to see you. A hug with words until I can muster the courage to wrap you up and put a bow on you.