the magic touch

i’m not a particularly touchy-feely person. my mom and sister would hug and kiss people all day if they could, but i’m pretty reserved when it comes to physical displays of affection in platonic situations, or even with my family members. of course, i’ll hug and kiss my family when i see them, but it ends there. i don’t go out of my way to put my hand on a shoulder or stroke someone’s hair (though i really don’t have a problem with someone i’m close to doing either of those things to me). but i’ve really been trying to embrace my feminine energy as of late; that part of me that is soft and inviting and receptive to love in all its forms. interestingly, i also don’t have a problem with little physical acts of affection in romantic contexts, so i wondered recently, why am i uncomfortable with them when it concerns people whom i’ve known literally my entire life? so i decided that the next time an opportunity to show that kind of affection presented itself, i would take it, even if it felt slightly forced or uncomfortable.

sure enough, the universe does provide. recently i was driving somewhere with my mom and we started talking about the night my died passed away. my mom had been in the room with him and was there the moment he “went home to god” as she says, so naturally she gets choked up whenever she talks about it. this time was no exception, and though i know she was trying to be strong for my sake, the emotion overtook her and she started to cry. i didn’t say anything; i just put my hand on her shoulder. and then i took her hand and just held it for a while as we drove in silence. i can’t totally put my finger on it, but i know that the simple act meant more to my dear mom than any words could have.

it was such a nice and gratifying feeling, this physical affection thing! it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but more importantly, i’m sure it was comforting to my mom. not even a week later, a second (and sort of funny) second opportunity arose: one of my best friends and i went to an event at a mattress store. they served wine and guests could lie down and test out the mattresses (only in new york). so my friend and i were laying side by side on this bed, in a room full of people. the saleswoman was telling us all about the benefits of the mattress and at one point she goes, “you guys look so cute! should i take your picture?” ehh why not i thought, and give her my phone. she took a few shots and then said, “what if you guys held hands? that would be even cuter!” my friend, who is even more reserved than i am, made it clear that she’d rather not, but i grabbed her hand anyway. the picture turned out pretty adorable if i may say so myself, and it created a little more of a bonding moment.

i’m not an expert nor am i a scientist, but i know there is plenty of scientific evidence to support the benefits of physical touch, both with humans and pets (i’m all set on the latter. when i’m with my dog, i basically pet, hug, and kiss her the whole time. i’m pretty sure she thinks i’m a huge nuisance but i don’t care). but nonsexual touch with our fellow homo sapiens is theorized to decrease violence, create trust between individuals, and strengthen the immune system, just to name a few. the research is fascinating, and a pretty ringing endorsement for not only telling your loved ones what they mean to you, but also showing them.