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Hug #23

December 15, 2010

Hug #23
December 8, 2010 1:30-2:30 pm
Jackson and State

“I like hugging but you can’t do that here.”

We hug in the plaza on Jackson and State. A security guard almost immediately asks us to move off DePaul property. It was definitely an asking. Would I like to move off DePaul property? Well, not really. At first I don’t move and don’t respond. Sara asks a question, like where is line delineating public property. After he leaves she calls him a jerk. I am still silent. I have to resist my urge to talk back, to argue. This is something I am working on. Maybe I have issues with authority. Maybe I am confrontational. Regardless, I have trouble asking a simple question without hostility. I want to ask what it is we are not allowed to do, exactly.

Are we not allowed to hug?

we keep warm the way we know how

Are we not allowed to stand still?
Are we not allowed to hug while standing still?
Are we not allowed to perform?
Are we not allowed to wear red?
Are we not allowed to draw attention to ourselves?
Are we not allowed to cause a commotion?

What is it, exactly, that we are not allowed to do? Are we a threat? If so, what are we threatening?

I think of a story that Karen Christopher, former member of Goat Island once told me. She was teaching a workshop somewhere, I’m not sure where, but somewhere near the water because she was on the beach with her students. She and her students did a performance in which they simply walked very slowly along the beach and during the performance they were stopped by a cop. The cop seemed very disturbed by the performers, very disturbed by their slow walking. Somehow their slow walking was a threat.

We cross the line back onto city property. I think of the way that young children are taught to color between the lines. The sky is blue and the grass is green and the two shall not mix. This indoctrination makes my heart heavy.

Our hug makes more sense, actually, on the sidewalk on Jackson. We become a benign roadblock for people passing by. I have trouble making eye contact with people as they pass. I want to root into the earth but I am unable. I feel wary of people and distrusting. A man whistles at us from a block away and then comes over to give us a hug. He is disheveled and smells like he has not showered in days. I do not want him to hug us but he hugs us anyway. Then he walks away. He is totally harmless. I am a fool.

concete my chest
to grey expanse

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 15, 2010 4:31 pm

    Regrettably, with the red you are wearing, you stood a high risk of being accosted by guards and that happened. Generally, common people on public property have the complete right to not be distracted by what I call “unpermitted public performance art displays.”

    Obviously, in addition to the red flag of wearing all red (which is often the color of aggression), you were technically doing a performance art demonstration without a permit on Depaul property.

    That is their rules, not theirs. 9-11 may have gone away–as well as the fears—but as long as there are security guards, they will still have the right to regard such public showings of affection in a “performance art style” as unacceptable as public urination.

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