Pandemic journal: The Body Aches for Others

Drafted during Ericka Lutz’s Writing in Place virtual workshop, March 22 (Day 9 of voluntary social distancing)


I’m one of the lucky ones who shelters with others I can touch. I never realized until now how much touch I shared with those beyond home. The nearness of you, as the song says. The hugs both tight and long, the amused glance from across a crowded room, the shoulder touches, the arm touches, the embracing selfie, the here, have some food, the can I get that for you, the I’m getting up, do you want anything, let me take your plate, the held door, the offered hand, the smiles of welcome (without a video lag!), the enjoyment or observation of outfits or presentation from you got a haircut to I love those shoes to did you know your sweater is on inside-out, the come over here I need to show you this thing on my phone, the I brought you something, the shared experience of the ambient temperature or the breeze or smells or a sight or the feel of the sun on all our skins, standing in a group, choosing to sit next to someone or they next to you, the offering of rides to shared destinations, the late-night car conversation, the holding of an elevator, the accidental and then apologetic (or completely intentional, holding) touches of squeezing past someone in a crowded space, dancing within arm’s reach of another let alone in arms, dancing in unison, singing in a circle, seeing your friend’s whole outfit or whole body in 3D and at once, seeing your friend in broad daylight that reveals how tired they are or aren’t, stopping to talk, stopping anyone for anything, hey look at this bug/stick/thing on the ground, let me hold your baby for a minute, may I pet your dog, high five, high ten, fist bump, combo high five, want to come in for a minute, can I come in for a minute, the shoulder or back or arm touch that says here, someone’s coming, step to the side, huddles both conspiratorial and accidental, hold on I can’t hear you I’ll come closer, whispering or talking in an undertone in a crowded room, gathering with friends, plans to gather with friends, shaking hands with a stranger you’re pleased to meet, meeting anyone new in real life, walking into any old place, realizing how tall (or short) someone is after knowing them for awhile, observing your friend’s gait as they walk away or walk toward you from a distance, seeing how big a kid has grown, proprioception, being close enough to bump into others, but not bumping.