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Hug #19

November 13, 2010

Friday, November 5 9:00-10:00 am
Daley Plaza, SE corner, Randolph and Dearborn
37 degrees (feels like 27)

“I love you”

An early morning hug. Waking up when it’s still dark outside. My cats aren’t even hungry for their breakfast yet. Riding bikes downtown with Sara and her partner, Chris. My fingers go numb and then my toes on the ride. Chris tells me to breathe into my fingers and toes and I do. They warm up and become tingly. Rosa, our trusted florist, is surprised to see us so early in the morning. She gives us our balloons and sends us on our way. No one is in Sara’s office yet so we don’t have to worry about being seen as we swap into our reds in her cubicle. I have not yet acquired a red winter coat so I layer several sweaters and put on a wool marching band jacket on top. I am the long lost member in St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band.

We hug on the corner of Randolph and Dearborn, near Daley Plaza. First row seats for the tail-end of arriving commuters. Most people shuffle on by, seemingly still asleep.

It is cold. Very cold. At first it’s cozy, comfortable even, but the longer we stand holding one another in a static position, the colder we become.

A gust of wind blows over our sign. My instinct is to just let it be but eventually we decide to stand it back up. We inch over to the sign, side-stepping while continuing to hug. We succeed in getting it back up to standing. I wonder what it would be like to go through an entire day hugging Sara – going to work, eating lunch, doing yoga. I wonder if it’s possible to do these things while continuing to hug. It reminds me of the performance that Tehching Hsieh and Linda Montano did in the ’80’s where they tied themselves together by a 9 foot rope for a year. They always had to be in the same room but could never touch. Perhaps a durational hug performance would actually be the opposite of their rope performance.

Linda Montano and Tehching Hsieh

A man comes up to us and asks us for a hug and tells us he loves us. His tone is light but he is not being sarcastic. Thank God. I am so over sarcasm.

A couple of people from the basement of the Daley Plaza hang out on the steps smoking cigarettes. They tell us that people on the 4th floor have been looking down and wondering what we are up to. We tell them to relay our message.

Our sign blows over again. I am jealous of all the lovely red coats I see. My toes become numb and I attempt to pump them to encourage more bloodflow.

A man comes up to us. He is smiling. He thanks us for what we are doing more then once and takes our picture. He asks us our names and writes them down. There is something about him. I tell Sara I would marry him.

It’s kind of crazy that we are out here hugging now that it is started to get cold. But I am warm in Sara’s arms and I think it makes sense to settle in to a hug for the winter. There are many more cold days to come but we are ready for the challenge!

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