August 19, 2010 1:10-2:10 pm
East Plaza of Chicago Board of Trade Building (Jackson at LaSalle)
“I really needed a hug.”
We are figuring out where to set things up–where to be in relation to our sign and how to frame ourselves between two glorious art deco sculptures. We have not even tied our balloons to our wrists (one flies away before we get the chance), when a man comes over to speak to us.
“Hugs?” he says. He has tears in his eyes and I hug him. Sara comes over and does the same. He tells us that things are hard for him right now. His father died last year and he has been panhandling for money. We hug him again. He says he was really in need of a hug.
People seem more skeptical of us today. Lots of traders hang out in the plaza, eating lunch and smoking cigarettes. They are not as glamorous as I imagine stock traders to be. They wear colorful mesh vests over disheleved clothing and have lots of papers and pens in their pockets. Several traders pass by us very closely without even making eye contact. One trader comes over to ask us what we are doing. We explain that we support physical affection and healing touch. He asks us if we get bored hugging for so long. I tell him I don’t. In fact, it’s very enjoyable. I tell him he should try it. He should try it on the trading floor. “Traders are pretty homophobic,” he says. “All the more reason to try,” I reply.
The waitstaff at the outdoor restaurant near us seem fascinated by what we are doing but too shy to come up to speak to us. Halfway through our hug one member of the waitstaff comes over and hugs us very quickly without saying anything and goes back to the restaurant.
Today the hug feels like a meditation. At first I have trouble settling in. The earlier part of my day was stressful. I have been feeling angry, agitated, and impatient. Perhaps it’s because I have been spending too much time with kids. Or perhaps the summer heat is getting to me. I am guarded when I walk down the street, feeling that I must protect myself always. But the hug is an opportunity for me to do something else. It’s not easy at first. At the beginning of the hug I am still agitated. I have trouble making eye contact when people pass by. I feel vulnerable.
But I breath and feel Sara breathing against me.
I open up a little. I begin to make eye contact with people who pass. I try to hold love for myself, for Sara, and for those around me. It feels good. I am peaceful. By the end, I feel completely different, like the way I feel after a yoga class or long meditation.
The hug is definitely the best part of my day.