“I’m sorry I can’t have lunch, I’m doing the hug today.”
“So you dressed like a couple of bananas?”
Karen comes to meet me today at my office. She’s wearing her yellow rain slicker. The brim cinches in, frames her sweet face. She had so gladly taken me up on my offer to sub for Aurora while Aurora was out of town. I’m thinking she’s doing a lot of hugging where she is. We dress; I put on several layers of yellow, Karen asks if it matters if she wears a yellow shirt when she’s gonna be covered by the raincoat. I can’t remember if she wore a yellow shirt or not. The details are sometimes missed by me. I am often caught in the flapping of wings. Downstairs in the lobby, we see some friends that are meeting for lunch. They are waiting for me, thinking I am meeting them too. They look outside and say ,”so you dressed like a couple of bananas?” **
We step outside into misty rain. Signs of Spring. Wind is a bit fierce, and cold. We angle in and thrust the umbrella forward. Set up on the sidewalk, hugging Karen is easy to be in. Karen says she feels like she needs to tell me her secrets. And she does, but not all at once, they slowly unravel, their paths meander, remember, dream. My eyes are soft, unfocused. I watch people pass in the rain, riding the carpet of her voice, tuck my fingers into my sleeve. I grip the umbrella, but not too hard, trying to keep my fingers relaxed, breathing. They are a bright pink against the pale yellow. A man hugs us. Two couples hug near us, smiling all the while. And Karen is telling me her story. Figuring stuff out. Being embraced. Embracing.
I am reading a book called Butoh, by Sondra Fraleigh. In it, she discusses alchemy and community as being two fundamental aspects of Butoh. Considering myself Butoh-ka, I am wondering if what we are doing could be considered Butoh. There is alchemy. Oxytocin, awareness, and stillness, connection. But where is our metamorphosis in our weekly performance? Our moment of transformation? We have this idea, from the heart, enacted in a simple gesture, we live the performance instead of shaping it. We allow the ritual of this one hour hug to lead to the possibility of some evolution, of our selves, of those who witness or participat, of those who cannot witness.
The rain comes in harder. The security guard from Milleneum Park slowly approaches and tells us we cannot have our sign on the sidewalk. I recognize him. He recognizes me. We have through this before. He walks on, but looks back until we have indeed moved it, leaned up against the signpost facing the street. Moments after I come back to Kaken the sign fall again. I am tempted to leave it. I go over and pick it up, stabilize it, and go back to Hugging. Walking back to my office, we make a beeline to the door. Kim, the security guard for the building, stops us and declares us crazy. “When you see it looks like rain, its real easy, you call her, and you say, lets just not do it today!”
I want to hear her, but instead I hear Karens voice in my ear from earlier. “This makes me feel brave, you know, out here standing in the rain. Normally I would try to not even leave my house. I would just avoid being in it. And here I am.”**