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Hug #50

August 21, 2011

Hug #50
July 24, 11-noon
Lincoln Square

“It’s not right. It’s just not right.”

The hugs barely fit into my life these days, or rather, my schedule. They appear in the cracks, the spaces between obligations and sleep. I have not been giving the hugs what they deserve. Did I ever arrive at Hug #50? It’s hard to say now if I was really present or if I was writing my grocery list, planning my dinner, or fixating on all the things I needed to do in the coming week.

We stood in the center of Lincoln Square. In the Square, to be precise, near the fountain. It was Sunday morning and the area was rampant with young parents and their buoyant offspring. Toddlers ran back and forth on the cobblestone and peered over the fountain gate.

Rain and the smell of wet concrete.

We blended right in; few people seemed to notice us. A couple walked by with their little girl, perhaps three years old. “See, they like to hug just like you,” the man said to his daughter.

An old man crossed the street staring at us. When he got closer I could hear him saying, “It’s not right. It’s just not right. Not in this country. It’s a disgrace.” When I got a closer look at the man’s face I could see he was very angry. He passed by us and continued muttering insults under his breath. He continued down the street, but his eyes remained on us. He watched us for a while. I was amused but Sara seemed put off and perhaps scared. I have never seen anyone express so much blatant anger and hostility towards a hug.

He thought we were demonstrating about gay rights. Recently we have had a lot of similar responses and interpretations, much more so than when we started hugging a year ago. Perhaps it’s because the issue is a hot topic right now. I just heard on the radio this morning that a judge in Illinois ruled that Catholic church organizations can’t deny same sex couples the right to adopt a child under the new civil unions act. Take that Catholic church!

After our hug Sara and I sat on a bench and ate pastries and caught up on each other’s lives. We intended to discuss our project and come to some decisions about our final hug, but instead we talked about work, love, and gardening. First thing’s first.


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