Hug Habit

Story Circle NetworkThis piece is in response to a recent story writing prompt about hugs.  The story was one of the forty chosen to be featured in the Story Circle Network fall 2011 True Words Anthology.

Hugs evoke beginnings to me. When I look back on the relationships I have had and the most important people in my life, there are always intense hug memories.

The first is from my mother when I was probably about ten years old. I have the strongest memory of waking her one morning with coffee and she sat up with this surprised and pleased look on her face. She shifted herself up on the pillow so she could take the cup from me and said, “Thank you, sweet heart!” She took a sip and made a murmur of enjoyment and then she set the cup down on the bedside table and opened her arms to me.

I sat sideways on the edge of the bed and wrapped my arms around her, breathing in her distinctive scent which was made up of Estee Lauder Youth Dew, hairspray and just a touch of cigarettes from the previous day and something that was just her. She was so soft and she hugged me tight and told me she loved me and I just thought she was beautiful.

She would laugh so hard at that now. She would say, “Oh yes, first thing in the morning, with my hair every which way and no makeup…I am sure I was breathtaking!” But she was and I will always remember.

The second memorable hug was from my very first boyfriend. We were both twelve and his name was Ricky Nelson…yes, just like the singer. He was the son of one of my mother’s best friends and although we lived in adjoining towns, their friendship meant we got to see each other fairly often.

He was sweet, romantic, a lovely boy with dark hair and green eyes and freckles and our first hug came on a summer day while all of the kids were playing in the back yard near an old house that was empty at the time. It had a wide front porch with steps that splayed across it, and we sat next to each other in the dappled sunlight, just holding hands and talking about nothing in particular.

You know how sometimes, you just know something is going to happen in a relationship? Even at twelve, I guess I had developed that faculty, because suddenly I got just a little nervous and sure enough, that long, strong arm looped around the back of my head, down to my shoulders and he was holding me. I remember turning to him on the stair, angling my face toward his and just looking in his grass-green eyes as I put my arm around him, too. We just sat there, content to be hugging each other and I thought, “This is what love is like.”

The most important hug in my romantic life, however, came many years later when I was twenty-seven. I had joined a video dating service a few years before and one night in March I had my first date with my future husband. We had a great phone conversation before that fateful Saturday night and I had anticipated our date, picturing the dark-haired, bearded guy with sparkling blue eyes behind his aviator style glasses (it was the 80’s!) that I had seen on the introduction video.

The knock came on my door and there he stood. He was about six feet tall, very thin and with NO BEARD. To my shocked eyes he appeared about thirteen years old without it. I covered my dismay and we went to dinner and then for a walk and I had a wonderful time. He was funny, charming, very assured and took it quite well when I pointedly said, “I really liked the beard.”

The hug occurred at the door as he was about to leave. As I mentioned, he was quite thin and I am a tall, full-bodied woman so I was a little apprehensive about the hug. Was I going to feel like I was hugging a teenager? Would he think I was too big for him? Would this be totally awkward? All of these thoughts raced through my brain, but I need not have worried. His hug was just like him: Warm, strong, solid and so nice. We just fit together and that probably should have been a hint to me, but it wasn’t and that is another tale to tell.

The first hug for each of my daughters as the doctor gently laid them on my chest after birth. The first hugs they gave me as they grew and clutched on like I was a life raft in their ever-changing seas. Hugs from dear friends in celebration, welcome and in sorrow or comfort; these are landmarks in my memory and writing about them makes me want to give some more out today!

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