Ohio is getting colder, which is redundant, as most of the continental US is cooling at this time of year. The real point of this is that my cat has taken to sleeping on my bed at night, curled up in whatever bay she can find; behind my knees, against my stomach, in the crook of my arm. I am aware that she is only doing it for warmth, but it has made me realize how starved for physical contact I have become in the last few months.
This is the longest I’ve been away from my parents. It’s strange to think of it that way. I’ve been more or less independent for years, but I have always seen them at least once every few months. We’re a very physically loving family, or at least we have become one in the last few years. I don’t remember us always being so close, but perhaps I was too young to take note. My close friends, too, have always hugged, elbowed, shouldered, poked, high fived to excess. During the last few months, with the exception of one slightly drunken hug and a few high fives, I have rarely come in contact with another human being. I’m not referring to romantic touch here, but the basic human need for contact. How strange it is to lose it. How strange that the absence can be an almost palpable presence in my life.
There have been moments where another grad student will begin a familiar gesture. A hand will extend toward my shoulder or elbow or hand, and then they will pause. The hand will hover for only a moment, and the gesture will be finished as something pithy and falsely lackadaisical. A gesticulation, a pass, a wave. I, not noticing the first attempt at camaraderie; cognizant only of the moment of question, and failure, watch the hand drop to their side, and am aware, painfully, that something wonderfully possible has been lost. An inflation, maybe, but more a demonstration of a suspicion growing into a feeling.
What I am saying, in more depth than necessary, and possibly ad nauseam, is that sometimes I really need a hug.