I don’t remember why this came up, but I clearly remember saying this during the wee-hours-of-the-morning drunken conversation KS, EY, and I had the night before last:
“You know who I kissed twice last night? CB. You know who I’m not attracted to at all? CB.”
I also remember KS being confused by my shirtless snuggles with MT and my having kissed him the week before (#truthdarekissorcody #middleschooldrinkinggamenight #dranglerproblemsawesomesauce), so I decided not to mention having also held MT and JD’s hands that night or been in a cuddle/feel-up puddle with DS, SW, and RW the night before. When you’re with a group of people that will get up and run around the house naked on a moment’s notice, touching each other isn’t always the biggest deal. But even when I’m not talking about PQCSS members or that kind of touching, it’s still really easy to be physically affectionate with a lot of the people I’m (sometimes not even particularly) close to on this campus: for example, there are at least two guys in my eating club who I usually initiate interaction with by running my fingers through their hair and massaging their scalps. We used to get a small Asian female member who has since graduated to walk on our backs, and massage circles are still quite prevalent. It’s not uncommon for people to sit on other people’s laps for no particular reason; we’re quite cuddly.
And I thrive on that. Granted, I don’t have that kind of easy physicality with KS or EY, and they are the people I’m “closest” to overall on this campus, but there are few other people I call close friends that I would hesitate to put my arm around in daily life. ChoosingPancakes was entertained by the fact that my strongest love language on this quiz we both took was physical touch, because that was one of her weakest. I don’t just mean sex or sexual-ish touches when I say I value physical touch as one of the strongest ways to show me you care about me. It can be little things, like hugs that feel like you mean it, or not feeling the need to jerk your knee away if it meets mine under a table or on a couch, or an arm around a shoulder for no reason at all. It’s rubbing my back when you’re comforting me while I’m crying. It’s me being in your space/you being in mine not being a big deal. That’s how friends should be, in my opinion, but I know that a lot of people have much stricter restrictions on even light physicality than I do and try to respect them (though that sort of goes out the window when I’m drunk, oops). For me, it can certainly also mean being able to do things like hold hands and snuggle in various degrees of undress and kiss in front of a room of cheering friends on a dare without it being a big deal, but again, I recognize and respect that most people have lines they draw in this arena.
What worries me, though, is when I get to wondering if I’ll ever have this kind of easy physicality with a group of people ever again. I had it for a while in high school–one of my fondest memories from sophomore year will always be laying on the floor in PD’s living room watching Pirates of the Caribbean with my head in the small of TJ’s back and him telling me he would be my pillow anytime–and I have it here in this amazing community of ‘Dranglers (who mean more to me than I may ever be able to express), but conceptualizations I have of the “real world” suggest that maybe it’s something about youth and chosen communities, that grown folks don’t do that. I feel like in some respects, adults revert to like middle school rules about what touching someone means, and it makes me sad.
Side note: Did I ever tell you how when I was holding PD’s hand at an Applebees once to comfort her while she was telling me about a breakup and some dude came up to our able to ask if we were lesbians? I both appreciate the acceptance of this as a possibility by our unknown audience and am mad that two people interacting with each other physically must be presumed to be romantically involved.
If being okay with you touching me and vice versa is a quality of youth, then I want to stay young for as long as I can while I grow up. How do I find other people who want to stay young in the same way? I don’t necessarily need people who will laugh at bad porn together on a giant television in the middle of the night or play shirtless ruits (though that would be AWESOME), but I want people who understand that the unequivocal best way to watch a movie is while snuggling, people who won’t read anything more into me laying my head on their shoulder than I find your presence enjoyable. But I feel like that kind of easy physicality only comes from like, spending all your time together in intensely social subcultural spaces, and that seems difficult to recreate in the 9-5, separate addresses, lack of communal spaces world. I feel like if I want someone to replace the guys whose hair I like to fluff, I should get a pet. Sigh.
Growing up stinks. I want to change it. But this revolution can’t just be personal…