Tonight, the fatherly older man sitting next to me on the bus swayed with the rhythm of the rosary hanging from the rear view mirror, and I didn’t lean away. I let his crisp work shirt brush my elbow and I felt his strong chest against my shoulder, like a hug. I felt safe for a moment, somehow, like his human warmth and lined face were familiar to me.
I miss hugs.
When my Daddy hugs, he’s strong and I feel secure. He always squeezes you twice.
When my Mama hugs, you feel comforted, like you can sink in and stay a while.
When my Aunt Sharon hugs, she squeals and shakes you back and forth with all her 100 pounds of strength.
When my little sister hugs, she squeals, too, and you feel loved and adored and sisterly and protective.
When my little brother hugs, well, he’s so skinny that your bones collide and you feel like you’re hugging yourself, only with a perfectly-positioned headrest against his collarbone and his soft chuckle that makes him sound like a big brother sometimes.
When my Angela hugs, she makes you feel like you’re the most exciting person she’s ever hugged (and also the tallest.)
I think there’s a difference between being hugged and being held. I still get hugs sometimes, but it’s different than being held in the arms of people that know you, love you, understand you, support you and tolerate you. Being held is both a physical connection and a manifestation of your vulnerability, fears, insecurity, questions, tiredness and quirks. Being held means you are okay, and they are okay, and you are okay with each other.
I’m not NOT okay (double negative for the win!) but I do recognize that maybe I miss feeling safe through the physical connections I have with my friends and family at home. It’s part of the deal, and I’m making new friends and find new securities, but for now, I’m just going to be okay by hugging strangers on buses.