What role, if any, does touch play in your everyday life?
I'm a stay at home parent so I'm usually the one giving hugs to comfort the kids or lifting them into/out of things. I like hugs but I'm usually the person initiating hugs w/ my husband
What is your preferred touch (a texture, a feeling, a type of contact)
I like to be wrapped in a soft blanket or cuddling (like, a hug lying down where you just exist with the other person)
Can you recall a memorable touch or physical interaction from your past that has imprinted on you?
In 2015 I was in a car on my way to Boston to see the band Eels in concert and I received a phone call telling me that the cancer treatment my dad was undergoing wasn't working and that he basically had a few months left to live. During the concert, the lead singer of the band said he was so happy to be performing the show that he wanted to hug all of us, then he jumped off the stage into the crowd and started hugging people. I was far back in the venue but I ran down to where he was and he and I crashed into each others' arms. The hug was quick, but tight and sincere. I knew that the singer had lost his mother to cancer and that his father and sister were also dead and he knew what it was to lose a family member, so considering the news I'd gotten on the drive to the show I felt like that hug was more comforting than any other because it was from someone who'd been where I was and the hug from him made me feel like no matter what happened I would be okay.
What has been your experience with this project? (Thoughts, feelings, takeaways)
Honestly, my biggest take away is a reminder of how touch starved I am in general. I'd once said to you that I was touch starved and you said that I had two kids climbing on me all the time so I experienced touch every day but it's honestly not the same. With the kids I give endlessly to soothe them with touch (hugs, picking them up, cheek kisses, etc) but I don't get that from them in return. My whole life I've been jealous of people who had cuddly relationships with their friends because I've never had that. The type of friendships I've always fallen into were with people who thought I was making a move on them if I sat too close or hugged them, and growing up I rarely got hugs unless it was to say goodbye to someone. So I have 30+ years of me desperately wanting someone to like me enough to want to hold me and it's just never happened. As a result I feel shocked when people actually want to touch me and don't have sexual motivations behind it. Like, I've never had a friend who held my hand, not even if we were climbing down a steep slope or something and holding hands would have helped our balance. So being touched as part of this project reminded me how uncomfortable I am with touch not because I don't want to be touched but because I so desperately wish to be touched and no one wants to touch me so I don't know what to do when it happens. Watching the video of our project, it's clear that I'm keeping my eyes closed and nervous laughing because I'm uncomfortable but I wasn't uncomfortable because I didn't like it. It was more that after so many decades of no one touching me with pure intention my mind didn't know what to do with it and it was overwhelming. I don't know how to fix that, but it does make me feel sad to realize just how long it's been that people have been avoiding touching me. I'm inclined to feel that people don't touch me because there's something about me people don't like but I think that's just New England, or America in general-- we don't usually touch each other, but that doesn't mean it feels right to be so isolated. In fact, it's the opposite-- not being touched and being in a culture that doesn't often touch reminds me of how much I want someone to hold my hand or just hold me in general. I wish there were a clear solution for that.