His tiny fingers slide over the skin on the palms of my hands, he laces his fingertips around the soft spots between my fingers and squeezes tight. He does this so that the tiny palm of his hand is pressed against mine, just barely. He loosens his grip and we start walking in stride, or as close as possible, I slow my steps so he can maintain his steady pace. He asks me if I like this, I think for a moment…
“You’re one of the only people I’ve ever held hands with as we’ve walked along.”
“Along what? What are we walking along?” He asks me, impatiently.
“Along the hallway. But we’re walking along a life moment. When you’re older you won’t remember this, but I will.” He squeezes and replies, “I might just surprise you.” This gentle loving gesture, this subtle exchange of energies, this moment interlocked between us, with fingers and hands, this is human touch.
He presses his bare chest against my back, I push my ass against his groin and feel him growing. The morning sun slips through the blinds and he nuzzles the nape of my neck; we’re both uncomfortable and not ready for sex, my breath feels hot and my eyes are filled with restless sleep gunk. He reaches around and squeezes my breast, then lets go of me, completely. We take a few moments untangling ourselves from sheets, our love is becoming comfortable, which is typically when I let go. He sighs and asks me, “Will you ever get sick of waking up with me?” I chuckle, and tell him the truth.
“Aren’t you going to ask me?” He reaches back across the bed and his fingertips graze the tips of my naked erect nipples, they grow harder, so hard that it aches and I want him to just touch me instead of tease.
“No. I’m not going to ask something I already know the answer to. We’re wired this way, we’re built to grow tired of one another, all of us. We just turn that off for the kids, for the vows, for self-preservation’s sake, for the safety, for the comfort. Because leaving wouldn’t be right. Or would cost too much.”
“You’re such a fucking cynic.” He finally grabs my breast, and this is human touch.
The sun is slipping below the mountain tops, the hard outline of the Snowy Mountain Range is melting into darkness and overcast evening skies. Spring storms gathering strength before they release Winter’s grip, and here I am. Spread eagle, body trembling, legs in stirrups, my mother at my side with Dr. Laura’s head between my legs. “One last push! Now!” The pressure that’s been building for months, for weeks, for days, for hours, for minutes, seconds…it’s gone. Exhaustion envelopes me and I can hear myself whimper, but I’m a distant voice, an out of body experience. I draw in a second breath, deep and hold it in my chest, everything sounds muffled, and as if it’s slow motion. Blurs of soft light and shapes who must be humans shuffle, whisper, and move just past my line of clear vision. I wait for it. Reality is a blur and I start to fade into the darkness, just like the mountains that frame our life giving scene and then it comes-her first cry. Her first noise. Her first. I’m too tired to move, and I know I’m not done, there’s more. I’ve prepared for this, the placenta, the nurses, the family, so many moments must pass before she’s gently set on top of my chest. She’ll feel this side of the heartbeat she’s grown accustomed to. She’ll look up and lock eyes with me, blind to the amount of love that will embrace her as I check to make sure she has two leg, two arms, five fingers, and count her tiny toes. Really this is just seconds, but too many to count. I close my eyes and listen to her brand new cries, this is human touch.
For thirty-one years this woman has been the porch light that has lit my way home, no matter how far I’ve traveled, how lost I’ve been, how broken I’ve become. The beautifully strong resistance that silently screamed, never give up. Full of spit and vinegar, unconditional and moxie, “gypsy blood” and tradition, I’m her legacy. Still and cold to my warm touch, her sweet curved lips are now a thin line of Cha-Cha Cherry Red lipstick. I gently dab a bit of her make-up off. My private viewing is breaking open a flood of emotion; the reservoir of love and hope inside of me rushes forward in a choked sob, escaping just shy of the dark wooden box that shines with a polished seal coat under soft flickering candle light. When I turn to leave this lonely room I will be empty, maybe forever. This is human touch.
My body has been a clumsy chamber of change since birth, I’ve become more often than not, with each cycle of change that creeps across this earth I’ve joined the march. The moons have guided my shedding womb. The years have shaped my hips, waist, thighs, and breasts. I have cut, cropped, chopped, my hair, and my heart has quickened it’s deafening beat with the tides. I’ve loved. I’ve lost. I’ve cared about the win, but more important was how I got there. I’ve been ripped open, from the outside in and the inside out. I’ve been split, divided, shifted, transformed, thrown away, faded out, and lost. I revisit my scar garden daily, ritualistic in recounting the times I’ve been busted open at the seams, and each retracing is a reminder. This is human touch.
The Shower, just a hour ago.