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Hug #18

November 3, 2010

Friday, October 29 1:30-2:30 pm
Michigan Ave. and Monroe, median


“Is that for Halloween?”

It’s the Friday before Halloween. I show up at Sara’s office before our hug to drop off my stuff and get ready. People are joking around and having a good time instead of working. Sara dons a monkey tail, cat ears, and a mustache she drew on her face with a sharpie. She decides to keep the ear and mustache on for our hug.

It’s beginning to get cold. Really cold. It’s the first day I really wish I had a red jacket. I will soon have a red jacket because it’s only going to get colder and there is no end to the hugs in sight.

We stand in the median of Michigan Ave., clutching onto one another. We generate a lot of heat. The entire front of my body is warm but my back-body shivers.

It was in this spot about 8 months ago that we got the inspiration for HUG. We were working on a movement piece to be performed at a Haiti benefit. The movement piece involved coming together into embrace and then separating. One day it occurred to us that we should probably just hug for the duration for the benefit, which was three hours. That’s what we did. We came to this spot, the median on Michigan at Monroe, to take a photo to promote the performance. We stood holding one another for what seemed like a long time (at that time) while our friend Patrick snapped some photos. Mostly, we were surprised by people’s reactions. Some people were very interested and intrigued by what we were doing while others seemed put-off. I felt exposed but also thrilled. It became clear the public hug was something we needed to explore further.

I could not have imagined it would develop into this. It’s become a very important part of my life.

At the beginning of our hug, two men stop to talk to us. One of them is blind and says he is visiting the city to take a class. We describe our project to him. He cannot see us but he seems supportive. We give them both a hug.

Sara and I cannot seem to be silent or still today. We are both extremely giddy. I begin to feel very ticklish in my ear, the one that is closest to her face. Every time she talks she tickles my ear and I cringe and laugh.

A man who is leading a tour on top of a double decker bus leans out and asks us if what we are doing is for Halloween. No. It’s not for Halloween.

People stare at us as they drive by in their cars or while they are waiting at a light. Many people in cars point and stare. It’s fortunate we don’t cause any accidents.

I like this spot on Michigan Ave. We belong here, somehow, amid the chaos of car and pedestrian traffic. Despite our giddiness, we are grounded.

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