Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sometimes when we touch...

Last night my little family and I watched in wonder, breathing shallow breaths, as the first of the trapped Chilean miners made a slow, steady ascent to the earth's surface.

My cheeks were hot and my eyes damp with gratitude for his safe transport from out of the stone. We heard that the president of Chile had called for every church bell in that nation to ring out when the first miner came back into the light.

Our basement is a bit shy on church bells - or any other kind of bell for that matter -but we do have two drum kits. So, my little girl and I grabbed a good crash cymbal and a pair of heavy sticks. We took them out the front door and rang that cymbal like a bell for a full minute. It was good. Pissed of the neighbours...but it was good.

When we finished clanging, little V. was grinning, and my face was soaked with tears. Our joy reverberated off distant houses, faint echoes of our exuberance, a joyful sound resounding. No words required.

That same night, in front of the television again, we watched as the next miners emerged. In every case, the first thing each one did was grab hold of a loved one. Chest to chest, faces buried against throats.

The words came second. No "I love you" was spoken aloud into a space between between two people. It was always breathed into a neck, mumbled into warm skin.

Switch gears.

Today I had a massage. No "hot stones at the spa" affair. This hurts.

My therapist is brilliant. Her fingers find what's broken. They seek out the knots and divots in muscles - they press one into the other until I am smooth again, fluid again - and all without a word. Our relationship is professional - but when she is done with me, my life is different than before I arrived. I move freely. Her touch makes it possible for me to begin again, the process of breaking myself.

My training log says I have to swim 3000 meters tomorrow, five times the distance the miners were held captive under the earth. It will take me less than 12 minutes to swim the expanse that separated the men from the surface, 622 meters. Water is softer than stone - but when it comes to life and death, equally unforgiving. This instructs me. It is rarely about how far you must travel - but more what you must travel through.

My husband is traveling tonight - a business trip.

When he is home, we seldom speak to each other in the middle of the night. Our bed is small and there is a rhythm to our turns, into and away from each other, through the night, wakeful at times, but silent, pushing back against front, or front against back - bum to belly, belly to bum. It is a dance of sorts, accommodating the needs of the other's comfort. In summer we relish the cool side of each other, and in winter the warm one.

I've had a busy day, and although he's been in my mind a hundred times it won't be until tonight, between the hours of two and five, that I will miss him most. I will roll over to touch him and he won't be there. It will happen more than once, and each time I will be equally disappointed, equally alone, despite my ability to stretch long my aching back. I would rather the weight of his arm.

Ashleigh Brilliant once noted, "Words are a wonderful form of communication, but they will never replace kisses and punches." Ha, he's good, eh?

Words will never replace an "I love you" whispered close to an ear, the rapture of fingers dancing over skin, a naked baby sleeping on a bare chest, flying arms smashing out noise to celebrate freedom and safety, the tickle of chest hair against a naked back.

Words are not the same as touch...

Kisses and punches.

Words make it possible to share them. Write touch into your work.

Saying it best, when I say nothing at all...

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