I like people. I love them in fact; not in the overused teenage ‘Oh I just love that!’ way either, in the way that love means when you say it properly. Collectively, individually, when they are so fucking stupid and when they are shining brilliant. I love them. Half (more than, really) the reason I am so easily seduced by language is that it taps into the quintessence of people; its only one way mind, but a bloody excellent one. So much can be touch through language, the myriad forms it can take, the uncountable ways that people express and are expressed through it.
People close to me, friends and relatives, have said in the past that I’m ‘a people person’ and given me similar comments in the past and never once did I give it much though. Much like when they would tell me ‘you’re so good at making friends’ I never really knew what to do with it. Rather like a three headed, dog resembling, elephant tailed, and lightning breathing animal being handed to me. I sort of understand what it is, or at least a close approximation, but I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do with it – yet simply standing there and holding it feels inadequate or inappropriate a response.
In a world where understanding a person, partially or wholly, even expression the desire to experience that understanding of something so intimate as a person’s soul or heart; to want to protect it, shield it from harm; being ‘a people person’ becomes something I ignore, I make myself feel unnatural in my own skin because my map to making friends and companions is different to what I’m told it is supposed to be. That those insights which take me down bypasses and shortcuts in knowing someone are vulgar, intrusive, unwelcome or maybe worst of all: too intimate – unconsensual.
My preferred method of greeting, farewell and everything in between is a hug; whether it’s an ‘I’m going to pick you up’ bear hug or a tight but gentle ‘Safe from everything’ embrace or a ‘You’re gonna feel how much I’ve missed you/how absolutely fucking thrilled I am to meet you’. There is nothing like hugging someone to say hello or farewell; it’s a visceral experience that has little comparison. People compliment me on my hugs because we literally and figuratively feel the other person’s feelings and emotions and thoughts in that connection. It’s intense and it’s so powerful – it lets the brave soldier know that its ok to cry; lets the exposed poet know they’re safe; the stoic leader know they’re aren’t alone. A hug connects us so intensely that we can know things we might never put into any other form for the other person to know, especially when they don’t realise that you know.
Often, out of respect for the other person, I won’t follow through with hugging them but I can’t lie and say that it’s easy; it feels no different to knowing that you could do something but a choosing not to, regardless of the reason. Guilt, but not quite guilt. Worse though, are those moments when I know that it wouldn’t matter, when I know that I would just say fuck that shit and hug them anyways.
However it’s not as easy as that.
Words can exist beyond time and beyond space, reaching across the vastest of distances to make you want to rip open your chest in order to better feel what that person feels or else make love to them until their entire universe is unbroken and ecstatic; this massive upwelling of Something just behind the rib cage that pierces the heart and sets my spirit on fire. Makes me feel like if I can just unburden the weight from their spirit or shield them from what is hurting them or just BE there for them, just for so they can feel that elusively profound moment where they can feel that I understand and know that it’s all ok while I’m holding them…
I’d be lying if I said that I understood it in any meaningful way.
Its just something I feel, experience.
Barring being able to act on either of the two impulses just described you should know that I would give you the best fucking hugs I could, any time.