Goodbye Hugs

This will probably be one of my very last posts from Houston. On Friday, I got the call from the movers that they’ll be here to pick up my furniture and boxes of books, so there’s no point in staying here much past Tuesday.

I’ve moved quite a few times in the past few years, but this one is especially difficult for some reason. I feel like I’ve really grown into my own here, and learned a lot about myself and about the way the world works. I was plunked here two years ago knowing absolutely no one and with no knowledge of how the city or even how the state worked. In two years, I’ve found a bit more solid the ground on which I stand, and have been following more of my own rules than the rules of others – but grounding my rules in firm reason. For once, I’ve developed a semblance of a circle of friends, cobbled together from different places and common interests, but each special to me in a different way. This task would have been impossible for me to do five years ago. I could do without the heat, the bugs, and the traffic, as mentioned in a previous post, but I’ll miss the beautiful Texas scenery all around me, and my beautiful apartment – which is, at the moment, in shambles, with boxes of books and piles of clean folded laundry everywhere.

My dad just called from the airport, so I’ll have to finish this up rather quickly.

Basically, I wanted to share my thoughts on goodbye hugs. I used to love to hug. I still secretly do, but I’ve become more cautious and careful about it, because you never know who might or might not want it. I thought about stopping, but when a friend told me “I don’t hug,” I tried to imagine life without hugging and found the thought unbearably sad.

The goodbye hug, however, should be a breed of its own. An average hug lasts about three seconds. Not knowing when you’ll see the person again makes those three seconds seem to either disappear too quickly without the sensation of the hug being transmitted, or expand to a five-to-seven second hug (or even longer) that can be misconstrued as awkward in the wrong place/time/context.

In these past few days, I’ve experienced several different types of goodbye hugs, and each of them tells me a little bit about the person. Rather than mentioning names, I’ll go with letters.

A is a person I’ve known for about a year. She and I have more of a hands-off relationship. Though a hug is not out of the question when we see each other, I don’t always feel that it’s appropriate. This hug was a brief squeeze, with a hint of lavender and off you go.

B is a person I’ve known for six months. She’s been there for me so, so many times and I am actually frightened by the thought of never seeing her again. She is rather slim, so when hugging her I had to gauge my own pressure. Her back is straight like a peacock or ostrich. Though it was a strange sensation to feel the bones of her back under my hands, the way her hands enveloped my body was like a bird cradling its young with its wings.

C is a person I’ve known for a year. He and I have had a steadfast friendship. A sanguine person, his hug filled me with warmth, and his clap on my back told me to keep it together, but in an affectionate way.

D is a person I’ve known for two years. He is a bit older than me. His hug was like holding a punching bag – enter, contact, go.


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