A wedding, a workshop, the White House. What do they all have in common? They were part of Labor Day weekend, 2019.
I am typing these words sitting at my friend Mitch’s dining room table in Falls Church, VA. Jamming out to The Doors L.A. Woman as it is issuing forth on the computer from my favorite radio station, WXPN out of my home town of Philly. Everyone else in the house is still asleep, but I arose an hour ago to pack for the return trip, take care of some business matters and write this article. This place has become home away from home as I have made the southward journey many times over the past eight years or so. It is where folks who I consider my family of choice and tribe, live and gather. Colorful kindred spirits. Playful souls, all.
On Saturday, I ventured into DC with my friends Beth and Annie to do some hugging on the streets of this nation’s capital; a place deeply in need of healing and connection. When I embrace people, I don’t always know who they voted for, what their religious beliefs and practice are, what their sexual orientation is and where they hail from, unless they tell me. I encourage kindness, compassion and care for the planet since we are all in this together. It is my mission, passion and something I would love to do full time. Just need to ‘get a grant for love’ to make it so.
Gathered in front of the White House, I noticed that the partition between the building and the sidewalk was wrapped up and words danced across it, indicating that there was a fence replacement project underway. It is the only ‘Trump’s Wall’ that I want to see. It had me pondering the question of what was hiding behind the wrapping. We may never know.
While doing my FREE HUGS thang in DC, I met a fiddle playing busker student, a family from Munich, a professor from Canada, a family from India, a family from the Dominican Republic, a man from Haiti. I had a way cool experience with a child who initially declined a hug, but agreed to a high five and fist bump, and eventually welcomed a hug. I also hugged a few activists whose own mission and passion involved peace and social justice.
Only one person held a microphone, calling for the strolling crowd’s attention. She was broadcasting her intention to be a Republican candidate for president. Her sign read that she was an evangelist and the first thing I heard her say is that we are born to lie and that the only thing that could keep us on the straight and narrow was Jesus. I vehemently disagree since I believe that both dishonesty and integrity are learned and modeled by those around us. After those words, another woman I hugged looked at me quizzically and shrugged her shoulders and asked if I understood what she was saying or if it was mere rambling. I shrugged back and said she was making no sense as she issued her proclamations for at least the hour I was there. No-one stopped for very long to hear her speechify.
The joint was jumping with people posing in front of the White House. I was surprised to only see one MAGA hat-wearing person. #45 was hunkered down at Camp David, so the energy felt lighter to me than it might have, had he been ensconced in his normal digs. Thank you, DC for hugging it out with me.
Yesterday morning, a group of people gathered on fluffy blankets and piles of pillows on Mitch’s living room floor as we engaged in one of my favorite workshops to teach, called Cuddle Party. A communication, boundary setting, safe nurturing, platonic touch by consent experience, it brings people together in remarkable and lasting ways. I began facilitating in 2005 and since then, have done 400 or so in PA, NJ, CA, MD, VA, and DC. Just like the experience in DC the day before, I find that people from all over the world are hungry for connection. I am fascinated to engage in conversation with people whose own cultures vary in terms of physical familiarity. After five years of doing this regularly, I estimate that I have hugged thousands of people who I hope will continue the ripple effect and hug others.
Last night I hightailed it to Baltimore where I officiated at the wedding of the niece of a long-time friend. The first time I met the stunningly beautiful bride who could be mistaken for Kate Hudson, she was 11 and had just lost her father. The next time we met was when her Uncle Gary (the friend who referred me to do the wedding) got married a few years ago. 24 hours ago, she stood on a dock facing the Baltimore Harbor and married her sweetie Ryan who came into her life when they were seventh graders. Both are accomplished, devoted to family and friends, nature lovers who were surrounded by those who love them. I was honored to be part of the celebration.
Now that I am home following a nearly four-hour drive, avoiding major traffic delays and crashes, I am even more aware that