16 April 2013

This skin, it's hungry.

you cling to me like a koala on my back,

warm and close,

arms encircling my paper bark trunk.

our limbs play, like intertwining branches,

tickling infinity,

delivering each other stars.

we doze, full of eucalyptus love,

concave like gum leaves,

i will store this memory

in deserted knots for the winter.

I wrote that poem many years ago, towards the end of a relationship. It was falling apart, but still, we clung together, him like a koala on my back - warm, close and sleepy. I knew we were coming to an end, and told myself those memories would be there when he wasn't. In the cold winter.

Storing the memory of touch for the winter. Like jars of bottled summer fruits, full of sunshine and bursts of flavour, mouthfuls transporting you back to the warm months. Only, now, I think I've run out. My bear suit is thinning. My jars of peaches are low in stock. And the tree's knots are almost deserted, ready to be nests for avian couplings.

The touch I encounter regularly is solo - a necessary oil-slick, and sometimes gloved and clinical, punctuated by medical terms such as erythrodermic and cellulitis.

I've shaken a lot of hands lately. Networking. But that's not satiating my skin hunger. I'm yearning for proper touch. And the irony of it all is I am surrounded by more people than ever, feeling loved and wanted, yet skin hunger is quite a lonely existence. It's empty and prickly and I wrap myself up in my blanket tighter each night.

A toddler on the tram clung to her bear, and I wondered when it stopped being ok for adults to carry around a toy, just to cling to something, to hold something close.

Touch is nurturing, regenerative. It's like the human equivalent of photosynthesis, allowing us to flourish. Sometimes standing out can black out the light, rendering a sense of the untouchable, consequently creating sensory deprivation. Without touch it's hard to flourish.

I try so hard to remember. It's two weeks or so since I've hugged someone hard. He gives the best bear hugs, and is generous with them too. It's getting harder when the space between touch grows longer. I imagine this how the princess felt, trying to feel the pea below the stack of mattresses. You can't bring out touch to evoke nostalgia. It's not like a smell or a meal to bring back a memory. Even your song isn't the same as the hug you gave me when you left. Nothing ever compensates.

With everyone I meet, I am bursting with the expectation of tactile possibilities. I hope and I hope, hanging awkwardly, unsure if I should initiate the first touch. This skin, it's hungry.

 

31 comments:

  1. Your words are beautiful.
    Touch is something I take for granted, between the kids and the dog, it feels like I'm always being touched.
    If I feel like I want to show you how much I've missed you, or love you, standby for the biggest hug ever.

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    1. I miss having a dog too - they're so cuddly.
      Thank you for this lovely message x

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  2. I often think about how much I would miss touch without my family. Hope your hunger can be satisfied soon. Beautiful post. xxx

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    1. Hey Robyn, thank you so much! Last time I wrote about skin hundre I got a hug from a stranger!
      Thanks for stopping by

      Delete
  3. So Carly... so that when we do meet , I know, tell me what is okay with you? What kind of touch on your skin is painless? Do hugs have to be gentle, or can they be strong? Like everyone (I suspect) I just don't want to hurt you.

    Looking forward to our first hug!
    :-)
    BB

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    1. Hey there

      I've written a little about the lack of pain with touch before - see the two links I think? Hugs aren't painful. In fact they're nurturing and warm. Can't wait to meet you and give you a hug :)

      Thanks for the lovely message xx

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  4. Such a beautiful honest post.
    I don't think we ever grow too old to want something to hug.Quite a few lovely oldies at the nursing home have a teddy or a doll they hold and proudly show off to me.The excitement they show when a nurse or someone makes a new set of clothes for their special hugging friend is so sweet.There is even an old man who has a stuffed gorilla he keeps with him.
    A warm hug can mean so many things....I missed you,I love you,Thankyou,I understand,Im here for you.
    Carly if I met you I know I wouldn't be able to resist hugging you.Xx

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    1. Hello lovely Debbie
      Thank you so much for your message :) you're right, touch can mean so many things. I can't wait to meet you one day and hug you x

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  5. Wow Carly. This is such a powerful post and so beautifully written. x

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  6. Big Virtual Hugs Carly (I know it's not the same, but FWIW.....)
    The writing in this is beautiful. Ever thought of writing a book?

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    1. Thank you Cilla - I think about writing a book all the time but I guess my blog is like my book

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  7. Absolutely gorgeous post. Such resonating words. We overlook the power of touch most times - yet it is vital to life - to living. A huge congratulations on the Kidspot top 100! I'll be sure to follow along to see how it all goes xx

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by to comment

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  9. Gorgeous post and poignant words... 'Skin hunger'... Hugs really DO nurture and nourish the soul. My little one is just on nine months old and is getting to the stage where he can return my hugs in full. It's delicious and sweet and I love drinking in his smell. I'm someone who loves giving (and receiving) hugs, yet sometimes it's just the urge that's there - but not the moment (i.e. formal/'professional' situation, but someone is so damn wonderful that I just want to hug them!). Hope your skin hunger is satisfied pronto! Thank you for your beautiful writing x

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  10. Loved reading your post....am also wondering if those big bear hugs a couple of weeks ago are from my son! :)

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    1. Thank you so much - yes, the hugs were from your son! He's so lovely and you brought him up well!

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  11. Carly, hi I found you through Curly Pops dlt on ig. I was curious about you looked a little at your feed and knew I had to read your blog. Thanks so much for sharing. I too would hug you when we meet. (if we do Im in SA) for me touch is most important next to breath & love. I wish you enough...

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  12. Fabulous Post. It's so true, there's not enough human touch going on in our day to day lives. If I didn't have the kids to hug during the day I'd feel quite hug-deprived. Some cultures are a lot better at this than ours. Such a shame :-( I actually came over here for the first time from Village Vpices to congratulate you on being a Top 25 Finalist - so glad to have found your blog! Mel x

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  13. Oh! My husband has Ichthyosis, since birth - you have his complete sympathy on living with this condition x

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    1. Oh wow - I'd love to talk to him about it someone. Will email you :) It is a rare condition.

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  14. Hi Carly, I realised that reading your post, that as a wife, mum & midwife I take touch for granted. I also remember my single days when the days were numbered in a relationship. You know that its coming to an end but you are not ready to let go as the touch factor can also mean loneliness. Yet there have been times when I am been in a relationship, getting touched but never felt lonelier. I read your posts and wish you so much happiness whether you are getting touched in your life or not x

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  15. Wow Carly, this post was so beautiful and yet heartbreaking.
    I'm not a touchy person at all, and sometimes find it invasive, but I love that I can always have the touch when I need it. I had never thought of loving any other way. Sending a huge virtual hug xx

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  16. What a beautiful post Carly. I lived overseas on my own for a number of years and I remember missing that human contact, a big hug from a friend or family. If I ever meet you, I'll give you a great big bear hug ;) Congrats on being a finalist in the Kidspot Voices of 2013 - I've just popped over from our category to say hello and what an amazing blog you have here, I'll be back very soon! A x x

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    1. Thank you Amy! And congrats to you too - will visit soon.
      I found travel a strange sense of lonely.

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  17. I love this post too and completely understand what you are saying. I yearn to touch and be touched. I love cuddles with my son but I already worry about the day he decides it's not so cool to be hugged by his mum all the time.

    It is romantic touch that I miss. Not that I've had much in my life. But I bet it is wonderful.

    Wish you hugs very soon!

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    1. I miss romantic touch too. I hope it comes for both of us soon. Thank you for stopping by. Love your blog x

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  18. Gorgeous that's so beautifully written. My favourite cuddles involve kisses on the forehead xx

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    1. Thank you Nat - so lovely to get a kiss on the forehead.

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  19. This made me cry. I have been single for a long while and the only constant contact I have is with my teddy bear Pinky, and my cat, Pud. I don't even see my friends very often so don't get many friendship hugs either. I often go for days and weeks without any actual physical contact from another human being. I really relate to that sense of yearning for touch. Next time we cross paths I will offer up a big friendly hug. Carmen. xo

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