So, tomorrow’s the day, after 14 months, hugging is okay again.
Well, cautious hugging is okay.
I’m not sure what a cautious hug is, there’s probably a guide somewhere.
I believe it may mean a quick brief squeeze where you keep your heads away from each other, don’t lick each and don’t hug strangers.
There are people who need instructing not to do the last two, I speak as woman who this week, rather aghast, said the words “I’m not spit shaking in the middle of a pandemic”, to a stranger. It took me a good ten minutes to realise that I wouldn’t spit shake on something with anyone, in any scenario, for any amount of money, ever.
Anyway, back to tomorrow, it’s been dubbed ‘the race to embrace’ and ‘the darling hugs of May’ by people who are far wittier and better at puns than I am.
What I’ve found interesting is the general discussion around hugging….
Since the announcement that ‘cautious hugs’ are allowed I’ve heard every radio debate and every psychologist there is talk about hugging and human contact. I’ve heard about the benefits and the chemical in skin that responds to touch. I’ve heard people talk about who they’re dying to hug, and I’ve heard from those who are uncomfortable with it.
Basically, there are people who have really missed it and others who have quite enjoyed not having their personal space invaded.
In my friendship groups I am known as a non-hugger, which, is not entirely true.
I do and I don’t like a hug.
When I’m drunk, I give out hugs like I’ve just been told a comet is hurtling towards earth and I must let my friends know I love them before the planet descends into a fiery hell ball and we’re all obliterated – that’s right, I’m the annoying love drunk.
Sober there are caveats in place as to when I’ll accept or give a hug.
When it’s a close friend I haven’t seen for an age, I’ll hug.
I’ll give my parents and Grandparents a hug.
Saying goodbye or being reunited at an airport (if only), hug.
Saying thank you for gift, hug.
When people are upset, I’ll give them a hug (but will ask first, why will become clear).
Friend moving away, hug.
Saying goodbye to family and friends, hug – after all I’m not completely emotionally stunted.
There’s one thing all of them situations have in common, they warrant a hug. Actually, there’s two things they have common, they involve people I know, like and love.
This week, I interviewed someone, a stranger, who kept trying to move in for a hug – it’s been a very odd week to be honest.
I moved out of the way, completely baffled saying:
“I’m not giving you bloody hug, I’m here interviewing you about the Indian Variant of Covid and a rise in cases (mystery solved) and you’re getting a bit too close here”.
I wanted to add, “if I catch this virus now because of your space invading, I will at some point in the future, hunt you down and kick your arse across the North West”.
As with the ‘spit shake’ incident, I wouldn’t be comfortable with this in normal times, my hugs are reserved.
So, clearly, I have boundaries in place when it comes to who can hug me, not a bad thing who wants any Tom, Dick or Harry hugging them? Certainly not me. However, I am weird about when I’ll accept a hug….
I can’t abide people hugging me or being nice if I’m upset.
I think it’s when I turn into the most awkward version of myself and many, many, many people will be able to attest to that.
Almost six years ago, I went husky sledding, fell off and hit tree. It really bloody hurt. I’d put on my bravest face for a good hour until I got back to the office, the final straw being that my phone died, I realised just how much agony I was in and burst into floods of tears. Then Vicky and Gemma did the worst thing possible (if you’re me that is) they tried to calm me down and started (like good friends do) being nice and that point, I completely lost my shit and cried harder.
There are so many more.
Didn’t get promotion, hid in darkened news booth until everyone else had left, so no one could hug me for one.
Generally, whenever I’ve been upset, I’ll take a stance of “I’d rather you didn’t touch me or be overly nice because it’s likely I’ll cry even harder because people are nice and then it’ll be just awkward, and I won’t really know what to do so maybe just give me five minutes”.
I’m aware it sounds weird, it’s no deep-seated issue waiting to be unearthed in therapy. I just become very awkward, the result of a comforting hug will just make me cry harder and snottier, and most of the time, I don’t want to do that so instead, will sit there with my arms clamped to my side while one of my wonderful friends hugs the equivalent of a rock (literally has happened).
So, how do I feel about hugs being back? Well, mixed.
I’m not going to wake up tomorrow as an overly tactile woman, that would be weird. I’m not going to be accepting hugs off randomers or even racing to embrace.
I probably won’t hug any more or less than I did before (I mean I am bit awkward).
I have some friends where it’d just be weird if we suddenly started hugging every time, we met up just because we haven’t been able to for more than a year.
Then there are others who are more ‘huggy’ – the same people who’ve told me they and their hugs are coming for me – who I’ll hug without a second thought.
My hugs are reserved for the very best people; when I do hug, I mean it. If I do hug you, it means I’m comfortable with you and you’re one of my favourite humans – I hope it goes both ways 🙂
Thanks for reading
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm