People. People everywhere. A throng of people in the elevator. Another throng outside the doors. Squeals explode right and left and virtual friends hug tight, delighted to be together, to be touching, smiling, looking in each other’s eyes for once instead of at each other’s words. Sometimes a second hug is exchanged, then a third. The hugs need to be stocked up until the next time they meet in person. Whenever that may be.
Strangers meet, exchange names, exchange online identities, and cry out when they realize this is no stranger, this is a friend. What started as polite conversation erupts into gleeful reconnection.
Strangers meet, exchange names, exchange online identities, don’t recognize each other and still smile. We didn’t know each other before. We do now. Next year we’ll greet each other like old friends.
Once, twice, maybe in rare instances three times a year our friendships don’t rely on typing and the internet. For days we are together, in person. The chatter is fast, furious, loud. So much has to be packed into those short minutes. Soon we’ll be back behind our computers, screens separating us, typed words linking us together again.
On the last night those with an ounce of energy left danced with wild abandon, trying so hard to forget that in the morning it would all be over, like a dream that never really happened, our diaspora of a community once again flung to the far corners and edges of the country. It was easier to dance and smile and hug than to say
“I love you. You are my sisters. My soul mates. I miss you and wish I could hug you every day instead of once a year. With you I am the real me. The one who isn’t afraid of what I could be. The one who is proud of who she is and what she does. Thank you. Thank you for being you and for loving the real me.”
because when I tried the words bubbled up and got caught in the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes.
Thank you. Thank you for being you and for loving me when I’m me. I can still feel your hugs and your wings beneath me.