Monday, December 05, 2005


When I was maybe nine years old, I went to the park with my friend Britton and his brother and my sister and our mothers. I was running down the path through the woods, and he ran after and caught me in a hug at the bottom of the hill. I was surprised because we'd always done that sort of thing (there are some very cute photos of 12-month-old me climbing on 5-month-old him) but now we were too old for it. People would think (oh fate worse than death!) that we liked each other. Britton was just being the same spacy, nice kid he had always been, and I was sorry there was a barrier between us there hadn't been before.

Being friends with Ricky is like going back to life before that barrier. It's like life when what you wanted most in the world was to spend the night at your best friend's house and eat cookies and watch movies and talk and giggle until you fall asleep next to each other. Except now there aren't any parents to tell you it's a school night and you can't. And he's somehow made it well past childhood with his hugging instincts still intact.

People need more friendships without barriers. It used to be common and acceptable for women to have intense, intimate friendships - to spend lots of time together and hug and write each other passionate letters. The tendency now is to label those relationships as sexual, and probably some of them were, but I think most of them were probably just because people want to be close to other people and this was a way they could do it. Half of Bryn Mawr thinks M. Carey Thomas was a lesbian, but if you read her diaries and letters it's obvious that she wasn't sexually into anybody at all. But she gets labeled as such because she lived with her best friend, who was a woman.

Of course people leap to the same conclusion even more when the friend in question is of a different gender. I've got the "No, just friends" practically down to a single word by now (although what I can't explain is that "just" doesn't seem to belong in that sentence.) Yesterday when we went to a Quaker meeting someone inquired if I were Ricky's wife. I was good and waited until we made it to the elevator to burst out laughing.


sandy said...

you know roomie---friends is ok--without the "just". I think people in general though don't get enough physical contact. they say people with pets live longer--i think it's because it's emotionally soothing just to touch a living, responsive being. i know i'm one of the worst people to talk---i'm very self-conscience about that kind of stuff---but i often wish i wasn't. miss you lots! love, roomie

Julia said...

Don't worry, I'll hug you a lot when I get home.