Aurora and Carole
March 18, 2011 10:20-11:20 am
Chicago and Michigan
Sara is in Morocco. My friend Carole volunteers to hug me this week and I accept her offer. On the morning of the hug I wake up cranky and stiff. I have trouble getting out of the house. The speed at which my life operates, the ridiculous number of things I try to cram into a week is catching up with me.
I stand with my arms around Carole. It is awkward. I can’t seem to get comfortable. We negotiate verbally about how to stand and where to place our arms. I still can’t get comfortable. I shift my weight. I alternate sides. My back starts to ache.
At first I want and expect it to feel like hugging Sara but it does not. I miss the ease of our embrace. I want to fit together better with Carole. I want the hug to be easier and more comfortable but it isn’t. I breathe. I focus on my belly rising and falling on inhales and exhales. I stand tall with the crown of my head over the base of my spine with trying to maintain a firm hold on Carole. I wonder if I am squeezing her too hard. I wonder if it appears I am hanging on to her body.
A lot of tourists are strolling around Water Tower. They stop, stare, take pictures. So different from the attitude of the daily commuters in The Loop. The tourists are more open and available. They are looking for something extraordinary. A tall man with gray hair comes up to us smiling. “You inspired us. You got us all hugging,” he exclaims as he gives his teenage son a big squeeze.
About halfway through the hug I get a terrible pain in my side and consider asking Carole if we can stop. I remember how awkward and uncomfortable it was with Sara in the beginning and I try to be patient.
An older man with Buddy Holly glasses and what looks like a heart torn in the back of his coat slowly walks by us. “It’s bad advice,” he says. “Americans are psycho and they can’t handle it.” I assume he means its bad advice to promote hugging and physical affection. The thing is, people can handle it. Today people seem excited, inspired even, for the most part. A cute twenty-something girl with short red hair comes up and gives us a big hug, “This is great! I love hugs! I don’t know why you are doing this, but I like it.” After we explain to her why we hug, she tells us we should hug at Burning Man and also in New Orleans. I would be down for that. I want to take the hugs on the road! Afterward when we finish our hug we see her on the corner. She tells us that she tried to hug a stranger but it didn’t work. She often tries to hug strangers. I love that.
At the end of the hug I feel a bit better, less cranky at least, and so appreciative of Carole. She is a courageous, loving, supportive person and I am lucky to have her in my life. To hugs and love and friends.