What happened this weekend? I travelled to Devon and I hung out with a lot of people I’ve never met before in a large house. And I hugged as many of them as were happy to.
What it’s really reiterated to me is that I am a massively tactile person and a lot of touch that people seem to reserve for intimacy is touch I just want with people I like.
There were at least a couple of others who had my attitudes to touch. A lovely hyperactive man who was happy to argue about art with me – he didn’t like installations, conceptual art including DuChamps, Emin or any of the YBA. So I had an excellent debate with him and he agreed to go see Emin’s printmaking sometime. It’s left me with an urge to see something by Emin next year. I’d like to see him again too so I might even attempt to hold him to his promise, drag him to an exhibit and get in some more argument.
The Empress was there and clarified that she’s actually perfectly happy to touch out of character, turns out what I thought was visceral OOC reaction was a very good roleplayer internalising their character. She and I had a lot of conversation about how she finds the need to confirm verbally at large events before hugging quite draining. Whereas hanging out with everyone on the same page she just had to move her body in a particular way to get non-verbal confirmation. I concluded that whilst I can do that I’ve had too many people with varying body languages to be entirely comfortable without a verbal check in. I think that’s probably a difference between what NTs and the neurodiverse find draining or not.
Actually talking of verbal check ins that was quite good because I met a lovely Scotsman who I’ve only run into once before and he was into casually touching on very much the same level including restorative hugs and the inability to avoid tickling bait.
And he did worry he’d overstepped at one point because hugging and friendly touches are one thing but people can be funny about tickling and we had both dropped into the kind of casual touch that you’re supposed to have more than one brief meeting for. We were both on the same page and he gave me the best type of hug to say goodbye because he was strong enough to lift me up – I don’t think even Wrong Mike can manage that these days!
The level of touch was interesting, I think it’s probably taken a pandemic to have a few people not only needing to touch like that but also determined to drop into it for a weekend with people who are not quite complete strangers. Thinking of not quite complete strangers The Fae Ref was some sort of utter godsend because we have been talking for basically the whole pandemic so the communication thing we have down. I’m not sure he was expecting my usual levels of physical touch amped up as they are by having lacked it for two years but turns out he’s one of those people who cue into the thousand little micro-signals people radiate by just being. Hence he got his levels just about perfect. So I spent a good hour laying in his lap dozing which I really, really needed and honestly if he decides he’s going to stroke my hair in the future I’m just gonna happily lay here until he’s done.
I don’t know what usual touch is going to be like in the future. I’m a little stuck on the Bonsai Kaiju refusing to take my hand in September because of the nasty germs. But then that moment, that series of moments this weekend, of people deciding not to observe the social niceties dance and instead just jump into a level of touch and implied intimacy that usually takes years to reach, that gives me intense hope for my preferred communication styles.