Nagging voices and flashing neon-signs
I am not just simply hungry for skin, but starved for it.
And not just skin, but touch. Hugs. Caresses.
My youngest, by now a lot taller than me, snuck a hug in yesterday. Standing in the kitchen he came from behind, hugging me, and I told him I miss hugs. I need more hugs. Sweet as ever, he said I simply had to ask.
And yes. I think I do. I think I will. I think I need to.
The physical distancing impositions due to Covid-19, are starting to take their toll on me. A year after first imposed, perhaps an accumulated deficiency? Slowly, the lack of arms around me, of feeling someone else’s chest rise and fall with each breath, the warmth of another body, is starting to wear me down.
Akin to vitamin D levels, received and stored during summer, lasting more or less until spring rolls around, to start the cycle all over again, perhaps my stored hugs has lasted for a year, and now, I am running out. And I need to refill the storage within, or else…
Or else what?
I believe humans cannot live without touch.
Romanian children’s homes proved as much in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the crumbling of the East Block, and I fear the effects, the long-term effects, of social distancing, which is a misnomer at that. Physical distancing is more aptly named, and yet, dangerous.
What will the effects be? What will this mean, short- as well as long-term, for small children told that it’s dangerous to hug granny and grandpa? On friends, no longer giving each other a hug upon meeting or parting? On people in old age homes not allowed to see their next of kin, in many cases dying, alone, or, counted as the lucky ones, by a caretaker dressed in protective garments, effectively putting distance, layers, shields between themselves and the cared for?
That nagging sense of danger, at the back of my mind, lurking in the shadows, whispering words of fear. You might get infected. Or, for that matter, you might infect someone. What if…? Yeah. What if.
I flash on horrors now and again, flashes of images of my loved ones (or me) in car accidents, or struck by disease, or caught in a fire, or falling down the stairs. Throughout the years, I’ve learned not to get hooked by these horrors. I acknowledge them, remind myself that there’s love at the core of it, and let them dissipate.
But the nagging sense of danger, the what if’s of not adhering to physical distancing is harder to cope with. Harder to acknowledge and let go of. Perhaps because it’s constantly reinforced, everywhere I look, online as well as in the flesh, it’s there. Constantly. Like a flashing neon-sign spewing messages of Danger ahead, danger ahead! Stay away! Keep your distance! Are you sure you are not infected? How can you be? And what if they are infected, unknowingly? Stay away, it’s dangerous!
What would I do without Pop the cat? How would I have fared without him around? He acts as an anchor in all of this. Curling up close to me on the sofa, in bed, when I am working by the kitchen table. His closeness I don’t fear. When I pick him up, burying my face in his soft fur, the nagging voice is silent, the neon signs stay unlit, letting me simply enjoy the sensation, the closeness, the warmth and breath. If I am lucky, I am graced with a dash of purring as well, sending signals of relaxation and safety coursing through my nervous system, informing me all is well.
But it’s not enough.
I need human touch.
But I need human touch free from nagging voices and flashing neon-signs.
Hold hands, gently caress a cheek.
Be close enough to feel your breath upon my neck.
Place a kiss upon your closed eyes, laughing as I tickle you with the tip of my fingers slowly making their way beneath your shirt.
All of this.
Without nagging voices and flashing neon-signs.
And with whom?
(I pray, soon.)