Sophie has learned a new game that I adore — we got this at puppy school. I put out my hand flat and say “Touch,” and she puts her nose to my hand. She learned this quick, partly, I think, because I am so excited about it, so we practice a lot. When I first watched our teacher demonstrate this trick with her assistant’s dog, I was underwhelmed — So, she touches your hand with her nose. Big deal. It’s not like she’s really doing anything. But then we learned it on the first day of class, and I learned that she is doing something! I can’t stop asking Sophie to touch – it feels like a real connection between us: I ask, and she reaches her neck forward, or looks around for where my hand is, finds where her nose can go, then presses out, reaches for me. She’ll come back to attention, when she’s distracted by smelling for deer, to give me a touch.
What a wonderful thing to teach your pup to do, to get to ask them for, to get to accept from them. When she’s curled up next to the couch and it’s time for bed, she won’t budge (so far) for come, but she came running last night when I asked her to touch!
Getting to ask for touch from someone else (let me move from pups to persons)– this, right here, is a gift anytime we feel it’s a possibility. The touch itself, too, can be precious, but the asking — isn’t that newer for some of us? Something we thought, at one time, we would not ever want to do? Something still difficult to make our mouths form, something risky to put out to another person?
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This got me thinking about another touch that I’d come across recently, an amazing multimedia piece by Magdalena Donea, Touched, that appeared in the online journal Fray — my friend and colleague Scott Youmans recently introduced me to her work, and I was blown away by the complicated beauty and difficult, deep truth-telling in this layered piece. (Know that this piece deals explicitly with sexual violation, and be easy with you, ok?)
What are the stories we’re not supposed to tell about touch?
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What does touch mean for you this morning? Are there touches you or your character want to ask for, or want to ask to have stop, or have complicated feelings about? Take 10 minutes today — let that touch come out onto the page, follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.
Thank you for your bravery, the way you allow yourself to accept touch even when you might have decided, once, that the safest thing to do is not to let anyone ever touch you again. You are deeply resilient. Thank you for your words!