People who don’t know how to hug. This is a pet peeve of mine. It’s more than a pet peeve, it can be a deal breaker.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the Hollywood ‘air’ kiss? Well there’s an ‘air’ hug too. I’m sure you’ve felt it – or more accurately, haven’t. Someone leans his/her upper body into yours, vaguely placing one arm within breathing distance of your back and perhaps patting your shoulder. I realize this isn’t very generous of me, but I jump to some pretty quick conclusions about people who don’t know how to hug – really hug (a caveat – I am culturally aware enough to know that in some places around the world, open affection like this is not common practice – you lucky people are exempted from my gross conclusion-jumping, which I know is wrong, but I do anyway – sometimes).
– I think you’re emotionally self-protective
– I think you’re not comfortable in your own skin
– I think I’m going to spend most of our time together trying to knock down your walls
– You’re missing out on one of the most renewing, reaffirming, loving gestures in the world
– You don’t like me
– You’re not into nurturing
I could go on, but I won’t. You know how much I dislike a lot of negative redundancy (positive redundancy however, is completely ok). There is nothing in the world that feels as wonderful as a really good, wrap-your-arms-around-someone-with-all-you’ve-got-hug. When the boys were little, we would often drive up to Westchester to see my parents. My dad was their primary male role model – and he filled this role with enthusiasm. He would come into the driveway as I was extricating the boys from their car seats, and they would start yelling for the “boa constrictor”. They’d all run into the house and dad would sit down at the first opportunity and the boys would stand in front of him as he slowly began to coil his arms around them, one at a time. “And now” he would say, “the mighty boa constrictor winds his way around his prey”. The boys would start to giggle and put their arms around his neck mimicking him “and I’m the boa constrictor…!”. Slowly they would squeeze each other until their laughter dissolved the embrace, dad kissing their baby cheeks, each boy giving himself completely over to these powerful hugs. The memory makes me cry – sadness yes, but I can feel their delight. That man knew how to hug. My friend Jo is an amazing hugger – she hugs so well that though we see each other rarely, I feel her hugs all the time. Lori writes with hugs in her words – I want to learn how to do that.
I want to feel a hug so I can carry it with me. Hugs send a message – a message of love and delight, of support and friendship, of spirit and life. Hugs make you laugh, they can prompt your tears. They help explain our humanity. They let us throw our arms wide open to the world and then hold onto something so we don’t fly away, carried by the sheer magnitude of it all. I hope you get a hug today – and I hope you give one. Hold on with both arms. Put your heart into it. Tell me you don’t walk away feeling that much more connected to something wonderful. Feels pretty terrific doesn’t it? I told you.