As I collapse into bed after another day of familiar wet kisses, sticky pats on the face and the absent-minded innocent gropes of little hands down my cleavage searching for comfort, I realise that the last few years of my life have been all about touch.
When I’m with my family, not five minutes goes by where there isn’t some connection with another body, be it a wrestle on the floor, an unanticipated mount for a piggy back as I’m picking up lego or a casual squeeze as we sail passed one another on the stairs or in the kitchen.
And it’s all just a bit normal, isn’t it? When you’re in the presence of small children, or even in an intimate relationship, the brush of skin off skin is just an ordinary part of life. Yes, there are days when one particular delicious or electric moment just hits you where it tingles all over. But in the main, I would think nothing of the things like the little man shoving his full hand in my mouth to examine my tongue, for example. Or having a tiny finger in my belly button asking me what my belly is doing. Even the silent, comforting presence of one or two warm bodies around me when I sleep is something you just take for granted after a while.
Until it’s gone of course.
I can’t remember at what age it was when I moved from being an uninhibited child, happy to hold hands with friends, to that awkward gangly teenager who hesitated when someone who wasn’t a family member reached out for a hug. When does that happen, I wonder? When we go from being all snuggles and tickles to navel-gazing (pre-?) pubescents agonising over a casual brush past another body (was it an accident? a divine intervention?) and writing tortured poetry about the way he looked at me that one time and what it might be like to touch his cheek (swoon).
Then you’re at the complete opposite end of the scale. There’s nothing casual at all about touch. Even thinking about it gives you butterflies and flushes your cheeks. And then when it actually happens, you wonder how you can possibly conduct a normal day in your life ever again, if this is what someone else’s touch can do to you body, your mind, your concentration…
Until it’s just another part of life again. Bye, bye mystery, and novelty, and electricity. But hello sense of well-being, and comfort, and familiarity.
And up and down we go through all stages of our lives. From fresh newborn, to boisterous toddler, to playful child, to recoiling teenager, to sensual young adult, to relationship, out of relationship, back to relationship, back out of…you see the picture I’m painting. Throw the childbearing years into the middle of that if it applies to you. Followed by empty nests, or loves lost. Peaks and troughs of loving touch all through our lives like a soundwave. A soundwave with a giant dial that can go right up to 11.
When you’re in the trough and you think you’ll never feel the warmth of another’s skin ever again, you can’t even contemplate that someone at the other end of scale might be silently wishing for just one day where they aren’t pawed at. And vice versa.
There’s nothing like it though – warm, loving touch. Even when you do want a break, it’s just a temporary retreat you really want – to catch your breathe and here the sound of your own thoughts. Before you dive back in again for more…