Friday, April 29, 2011 5:30-6:30 pm
Randolph and Michigan Ave.
“I have a crowbar upstairs if you are stuck”
That’s right. Our fortieth hug. We have been hugging every week now for almost a year. For me that’s a long time to be committed to one action. Things are getting serious. It’s kind of like going steady.
Just the other day I was telling someone about the hug and they asked me why. What is it about? We intend to disrupt monotony and routine, for ourselves and also for passersby, I told him. We promote physical affection and healing touch, but mostly the action is a social experiment to see how people respond. It’s an opportunity to have interactions with people that we wouldn’t otherwise. Plus, it’s a meditation. It feels good. I am grateful to continue to learn about the why every week as our hugs unfold. My intentions and perspective continue to evolve.
On this day it feels like we are on display. We choose the intersection of Michigan and Randolph, which is bustling with commuters and tourists alike at 5:30. People move around quickly, eager to get home, go out, unwind from the week. We are in the way. People have to walk around us. We stand right on the northwest corner so we are next to people while they wait g to cross the street. A man passing by in a wheelchair yells out “Get a room!”
A kid runs up to us and claps his hands right in front of our faces, as if to see if we are real. We are real and I can’t help but feel irked. My first impulse is to yell out at him, to make fun of him or berate him somewhow, the way I would respond to a driver harassing me on my bike. But I don’t respond, rather, I just note the sensations in my body – shock, anger rising in my throat, a spike in my blood pressure, and then in a few moments, a feeling of calm once again.
A large group of people huddle together and hug near us on the corner. They smile and laugh and make me smile and laugh. A lovely hug huddle.
One woman says, “Are you giving hugs or asking for hugs?” as she passes. “Both,” I say. “That’s a long hug, everlasting hug!” another guy says. Everlasting Hug will be the name of our band.
Our yellow is lighter, brighter, and more porous. In red I sensed us more rooted, impenetrable even. Now we are delicate, as tiny blossoming buds on a daffodil or brilliant midday sunshine that threatens to be upstaged by rain clouds.
On this day my life swirls around me uncontrollably. I am overworked and overwhelmed, running from one place to the next. The hug is the only part of my day when I slow down and become still. I listen to my breath. I note the sensations inside me instead of responding impulsively to external stimuli. It is, without a doubt, the best part of my day.