I Hugged Until I Couldn’t Anymore.

I’m a hugger. I like to hug. I typically, but not always, give a warning like, “I’m coming in for a hug.” There’s usually time for the huggee to get their arms up. But, again, not always. Sometimes it’s me hugging people the way a panda snuggles a bamboo tree. I rarely if ever hug total strangers but I often cuddle people who, until that point, I only knew online yet I feel like we’re besties. And they probably think, “This is the lady that I met on Twitter. Boy, she’s friendly. I bet the Coronavirus was hard on her.”

I wrote that last sentence as if the virus had run its course and I can hug with abandon again.

It hasn’t. So, I say to myself, “No hugging, Ann.” For now, I’m an at-home hugger. My daughter Meghan and my dog Peanut are the only recipients and only Peanut is happy about it. Meghan has had just about enough of me.

My neighbor, who I haven’t hugged in ages, is a mother of two boys and as I write this she is sitting in a teepee with her children. It looks like a sweet parenting moment but I’m betting it’s really a quaint tableau of fed-upedness. She was looking for something to do that didn’t contain the oft-uttered phrases, “No, you’ve had enough snacks, screen time, and/or please stop clearing your throat- today.” The moment she said, “Let’s go sit in the tee-pee,” she probably died a little inside and her own parents said, “Now, you understand, why we were tired.” by text, because that is how it is now.

The woman across the street said to me the other day, “You raked your grass clippings and put them in the wrong place.” Actually, she shouted it through her mask, across two sidewalks, a boulevard and a big street. To be fair, she probably wouldn’t have shouted it if I had been able to hug her.

But, I got the message: It’s hard to be mad at a virus. You can’t yell at it, even if you could see it. So, she yelled at my grass clippings instead.

This whole staying-away-from-people is irritating. I like people. But I’m staying home because, just in case I’m a no-card-carrying carrier of the nasty f****n’ virus, I don’t want to kill any of the people I like or might like when I meet them in the future. And if you think the virus is all a hoax, and we’re worrying over nothing, that’s fine…but just in case, I still won’t hug you).

With all this non-hugging time on my hands, I should be able to write like a mo-fo, fold the sweaters that are jammed on shelves, plant a garden. I’ve tried to do those things and I chip, chip, chip away while making sure I don’t touch anybody.

The problem is that I know people are suffering, and many in far, far worse ways than I am. Many are jobless, trapped with abusers, fearful, sick, desperate, broke. I feel powerless but I am also in solidarity. So many people are on the front lines in this viral war. My daughter is, in fact.

Besides staying home, besides, donating money, and not hugging you, the only thing I can do is to reach out with words. Words are my embrace. If you are reading this and suffering, this is me sending you a virtual hug.

That’s the entire point of this email. I hope you felt hugged, if you like that kind of thing, or at least a little less alone, because I wrote this for you.

xo. A

I Thought You Said This Would Work