Touching, Inappropriately

You go through an hour, an afternoon, a day, a week—longer than that?—without a tenderness, without the touch of a hand on your face, a hand in yours, without a simple physical connection that ties you to other human beings.

You wonder why someone doesn’t reach out to you, but you can’t bring yourself to do the reaching.

You get used to a tacit score being kept, where in order to avoid being thought of as the sappy one, the pushover, the bottom, you remember to balance it with a correct distance, an occasional coldness, a required formality.

An overall chill takes over—when you have to remember boundaries, when you have to reign it in, when you find yourself acting contrary to what you’re feeling—when you have to be that conscious, that calculating.

You dislike yourself for it, and you kick yourself in the ass for not being more of a stand-up guy in your behavior, and that just serves the distance instead of shortening it: abnegation as a first-order approximation.

Moments of daylight sneak through, though, from people who either don’t notice or don’t care that you’re working to stand apart. Family, friends, friends who are so close for so long they are family.

A hug is upon you before you know it; a kiss on the cheek, a welcome, a smile.

That little scrap of emotional daylight melts the protective ice cap just a bit. The Now transcends the Past, the Past where that controlfreakanalretentiveadultchildofanalcoholicpassiveaggressive- commitmentphobicnamethatdysfunction boyfriendgirlfriendtouchfriend neverandforeverwhatever forced you to into your own private ice age as a means of self-preservation.

None of it is quite enough to thaw yourself completely, but when the cold-dark lights up in flashes, you can glimpse the exits.

All that’s left is deciding to decide to walk through the dark, feeling your way, being bumped and bruised, each time cursing the putzes that sent you into the black-dark.

Oh, and hoping for more glimpses on your way towards the sunshine.