You guys, before the 8th grade, I had never hugged anyone not related to me. The idea of touching other people wasn’t repugnant, it just was so far outside of my realm of experience that it never even occurred to me. But the summer before 8th grade was my last Navy-induced move (have I mentioned my Navy brattitude before? hmm) and the denizens of the suburbs of DC plus being 13 helped invert my world in lots of ways.
I’ve talked about this time in my life as my first episode in depression, but it was full of lots of firsts, good and bad. A month into the school year, my new friend Mary bestowed upon me my first non-familial hug. I was taken aback to the extreme, but it seemed harmless so I permitted this intimacy to happen whenever she felt it necessary. That hug was my gateway drug! (ooh, rhymey.)
When I started high school, I got involved in the theater department. Let me tell you, if I was still hanging on to some sort of diffidence about physical contact, it was hugged, kissed, and snuggled out of existence quickly. Theater folk are a touchy bunch in so many ways, but we’ll stick with the literal for today’s post ;)…I not only allowed friends to hug me, I welcomed it, and initiated my fair share of them. At all night cast parties, 4 am usually found us in a giant puppy pile of platonic affection in front of a tv in someone’s basement. (Mysteriously, my parents were fine with all night co-ed cast parties despite the fact that they were staunch defenders of my virtue generally.) I started adopting friend as brothers and sisters.
Now 12 year old me would probably think I was a big ol’ ho, because I make sure not only to hug and kiss my friends, and feel no compunction about snuggling on the couch with them, but I make sure to tell them how much I love them. Probably not as often as I should, but still pretty damn often. When I was a kid and my grandmother openly lusted after characters on her soap operas, I was aghast. Now I have internet crushes on friends and strangers alike, knowing it has nothing to do with my relationship with The Boy. Part of it is just growing up and understanding the world is more complex than it seems it should be when we’re young, but a lot of it is the same thing that occasionally gets me into trouble: once I accept someone into my life, I pretty much have no barriers. (Shocking, I know, coming from the girl who told the world her cat ate a condom…) Hell, I hardly have any barriers with people I don’t know. (Hi, Internet!!) This is different for biological family versus my found one, but blood does complicate. For the most part, I am happy to let people see who I am, and that tends to make them okay with letting me see who they are, which tends to result in gushed professions of adoration from me.
I’m not anywhere near where I thought I would be at this point in my life, when I imagined it as a kid. Sometimes that is a hugely horrible, discouraging thing to me. But in this case, I think it’s pretty awesome.
REMINDER: DERBY! SATURDAY! DC ARMORY! BE THERE!