It seems such a small thing that I have resisted writing about it for a week, and it was such a small thing, my grandson’s hand slipping into mine like a piece of cool silk when we cross the street. Not any little street, but NYC streets. Without resistance, especially across Broadway.
We all have some memory of being touched gently, serenely, with not a single barrier, whether by a lover or someone we wished to be a lover. At least I hope we all have, but surely I overstated. It isn’t the makeup of the world that we all have been loved.
Actually I remember the touch, as an adolescent, of a monkey reaching through a cage, quick as a viper, grabbing my hair at its roots and pulling my head against the screen as I screamed. I feel it now, but that is not the kind of touch I mean.
In retrospect, I remember other violent touches, the first time my husband hit me, but this is not about that.
This is about a ten-year-old boy who slips his hand in mine like silk. It is about holding my hand out when he is a step behind and having his hand touch mine without my even seeing him, knowing he is there and his knowing I am there, and we will cross Broadway safely.
It is about agreement of who we are together. And agreement of going forward, of crossing the landscape, of moving through time and space in our bodies. Our bodies that hold our minds, and thoughts, and emotions. It is about trust. It is about love as ordinary as water.
I have never felt that level of trust with my arm through that of a partner. I have never felt that safe crossing busy streets.
That amazingly fine hand with long delicate fingers, not clutching, simply entwined, and continuing so after we cross the street.
Yes, he may jump and whirl and yell and laugh and roll on the rug with delight when he beats me in chess. Triumph, unabashedly competitive.
Yes, he is alert and attentive to my elderly foibles, leaving my key in the door of the apartment. He is already tending and accepting.
But when he puts his hand in mine, our palms against each other the world is somehow right. We are comrades and for that moment I am still the elder, the guard, the protector. There is no resistance, nor is there surrender.
The touch says it all, and that is not a small thing at all.