I Remember Human Touch
In this new and strange era of physical isolation, Kelly Quirk penned this ode to touch.
by Kelly Quirk
I remember being 13, the spring air, ever aware of how close my body was to others, and the growing desire to be closer and closer. The way goosebumps would rise from holding hands.
I remember nights in bars, and concerts, standing packed, touching, touching strangers, being so close our breath was collective. being so close our drinks were accidentally spilled. being so close to a stranger that we could not pass without touching each other.
I remember lovers, the way we were so cavalier with our touch, with our kiss. the way I was always shy about public affection, but there were stolen public kisses… dances that were too close… hands that touched other hands that touched our faces after touching subway handrails and bar-tops.
I remember meeting my husband in a bar, and moving to another bar and kissing him on the street. I remember the smiles as we casually kissed each other and pushed our arms around each other having only met a few hours before, two inches of space between us too much to bear.
I recall birthing one child, then another, then another. I recall being entirely present in my body and determination, and yet other humans being so physically present they literally pressed upon my body to aid it.
I remember nursing, and the collective of women who helped me raise my babies, and how extended our love was for each other and our children, how close we could be in each other presence.
I remember marching, and protesting, and being shoulder to shoulder, to shoulder with others and driving in packed cars where we could discuss the challenges of a progressive idea in a totalitarian age. Our kitchen table activism grew from closeness and shared snacks and wine and not enough space as we made posters on living room floors.
i remember karaoke, and singing with abandon at Libretti’s on a Friday night, when we are all so physically close to each other you can barely hear for shouting. I would take the communal microphone from a stranger…I remember using the microphone to belt out love shack, or love is a battlefield, or boys don’t cry…. and then I passed the microphone to you… to another… to another… to a stranger
I remember the week the train stopped being crowded, and then half full, and then empty.
I remember the last time I was in the physical presence of my mother, and my father, and my stepmother, and my brother… I remember the hugs that I didn’t think needed to last for so long.
I remember the week it no longer seemed as safe to take the train, and I began to drive again. . . and how much I fretted over that decision
I remember seeing two people walking dogs who came within 3 feet of each other on the street and didn’t embrace, and the first time it seemed positively scandalous! pornographic almost.
I remember the week we distributed masks but everyone seemed unsure about whether we needed to wear them yet.
I remember the day that changed.
May we all breathe our separate air with our collective breath and will and love..until we touch again, and embrace without hesitation.
Originally published on Kelly Quirk’s FB page. Published in “Change Becomes You” via The Good Men Project.