In these United States and across the world we are in quarantine. Lockdown.
Shelter in place. We’re alone together.
And I miss it all: restaurants, coffee shops, movies, hanging out with friends in real time,
But mostly I miss hugs—and I live with my wife and we hug a lot
…but I miss hugs from friends and even sometimes strangers.
I’m a hugger.
I miss handshakes and whispers and rubbing shoulders and close smiles.
Are we embodied beings? Does the body need other bodies?
What is a “crowd of something called” is always my favorite thing to look up:
a pandemonium of parrots, a swarm of eels, a fever of sting rays,
a cauldron of bats, a gaggle of women,
a herd of sea horses, a clutch of vampires, a clowder of cats,
an army of frogs, a crash of rhinos, a business of ferrets,
a passel of possums….
It’s all mythical now, for humans anyway, groups and crowds.
We might as well be mermaids.
And if mermaids were fish, a group of us would be called a school.
If we were human mermaids, we would be a tribe.
And if we were sea mammals, like dolphins, we would be a pod.
I’m missing my pod,
my school, my tribe.
Like whales or manatees, or dolphins—we need a pod.
We are social creatures. We zoom our pod on social media.
And I worry for the elderly in my pod that they do not use this technology that keeps us whizzing
into each other’s homes.
Zooming in– in Brady Bunch boxes.
Here we are! Open your mic!
Toasting the edges of my Brady Bunch box with my glass of wine—Cheers!
Did God mean for us to need each other in bodies? As bodies.
In the same space?
What does it mean that we are here spinning on the planet in embodied forms?
Our experience and our consciousness of being in bodies—
the phenomenology of what it means to be in a body with other bodies.
We are bodies first I think; we are bodies.
Human bodies. A crowd of them, a group… a family, a band, a community,
a nation, a city, a town…a party.
So– I miss hugs, and handshakes and close spaces and smiles and whispers.
I miss sitting tight next to strangers at a sold-out play, a concert, a movie….
I miss crowded events, parades…a club where I am jostling my drink
across the floor to meet my friends.
I miss waiting for a table and making small talk with the other patrons
and chatting up the maître de.
I miss laughing with clerks at the convenience store and talking
to everyone. In person.
And I miss hugging. I’m a hugger.
And I miss, oh I miss
Photos by the author: from the “sheltering at home” collection
Marie Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine.