Over the next few weeks I discovered that Seth lived alone with a cat and loved ecstatic dancing and skinny-dipping in cold lakes in the sierras. But what set him apart from many men was his emotional availability. He wasn't afraid to let people get closer. In fact, he invited almost everyone. At a friend's party one evening after we had decided it was time to leave, I waved goodbye to everyone before I left. And then I waited. And waited. Finally, I went back up the steps and peeked in through the door frame. As it turns out, Seth's way of saying goodbye is hugging: no one is left untouched.
After a year we switched from Rom-Com to soap opera. My reluctance and privacy sparked Seth's impulse to connect. His need for closeness collided with my tendency to seek solitude when I was upset. Neither of us resigned. After an argument, when Seth initiated a makeup hug too soon, our bodies remained stiff and unforgiving. Hugging at these times held a void; it became a delusion.
The coronavirus outbreak>
frequently asked Questions
Updated August 27, 2020
What do I have to consider when choosing a mask?
- There are a few basic things to keep in mind. Does it have at least two layers? Well. If you hold it up to the light, can you see through it? Bad. Can you blow a candle through your mask Bad. Do you feel okay most of the time wearing it for hours? Well. The most important thing after finding a mask that fits well with no gaps is finding a mask that you will wear. Take some time to choose your mask and find something that suits your personal style. You should always wear it when out in public for the foreseeable future. Read more: What is the best material for a mask?
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
- In the beginning, the coronavirus appeared to be primarily a respiratory illness – many patients had a fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot, although some people don't show many symptoms at all. Those who seemed the sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and were given supplemental oxygen. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. In April the C.D.C. added to list of early signs of sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle pain. Gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea and nausea have also been observed. Another tell-tale sign of infection can be a sudden, profound decrease in your sense of smell and taste. In some cases, teenagers and young adults have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes – nicknamed "Covid Toe" – but few other serious symptoms.
Why does it help to stand three feet away from others?
- The coronavirus spreads mainly through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using this measure, bases its six-foot recommendation on the idea that most of the large droplets that people make when they cough or sneeze fall within six feet of the ground. But six feet has never been a magical number that guarantees complete protection. For example, sneezing, according to a recent study, can trigger droplets that are much farther than two meters away. It's a rule of thumb: it is safest to stand six feet apart, especially when it's windy. But always wear a mask even if you think they are far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am i immune now?
- As of now, this seems likely for at least a few months. There have been scary reports of people appearing to be suffering from a second attack of Covid-19. However, experts say these patients may have a lengthy course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may only last in the body for two to three months, which may seem worrying, but that's perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it is highly unlikely to be possible in a short window of time after the initial infection or make people sick the second time.
I am a small business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus packages passed in March provide help to millions of American small businesses. Eligible companies and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The assistance offered, administered by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. But a lot of people haven't seen any payouts yet. Even those who have received help are confused: the rules are draconian and some are stuck with money they cannot use. Many small business owners get less than expected or hear nothing at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What made this relationship different from others was how we kept coming back to each other in the end: talking, listening, laughing. Seth learned to give me the time I needed before we talked, even if it seemed strange to him. Then he would say, "Come here. I need to go from ventral to ventral." The clenching of our hearts and abs was his quick return to the kind of love and intimacy he had grown up with: lifelong friendships, serious communication with good eye contact, Processing feelings over a cup of tea. Over the years, I gradually shared shady, cobweb-like parts of myself with him and became less anxious and more appreciative of his kind of intimacy. My hugging style evolved: I began to absorb more and shun less.
We quickly did everything couples were warned about – move in together, plan a wedding, buy a house, get pregnant – all in two years. After a sushi dinner with our parents to celebrate our pregnancy, my father got up not to toast us but to speed up the night. He said in his quick, sloppy way, “OK, OK, good night everyone. What good news, it's time to get home. "Then he dodged the door. The rest of us followed, watching as Seth's father chased mine half a block down the street.
"Wait, I have to hug you goodbye," he shouted, waving his finger good-naturedly.
"Oh come on!" My father protested. "We've already hugged once!"
"Well," said Seth's father with a smile, "let me give you another one."
Seth and I have been married for six years and now have two kids, ages 2 and 5. I've had the whole time to take the hug and I've made real progress. But now, with the coronavirus pandemic, the world is taking a long hiatus from hugging. Instead of greeting people the usual way, I now raise my elbows from six feet away, hug the air, virtually hug them, and even hug them with emoji. In this crisis, my husband and daughters are the only people I touch. When I break down, hug my husband at the end of a long day, or cuddle my daughters before bed, I know that hugging conveys compassion, connection, and love – an invitation to deepen a relationship.
When Covid-19 is behind us, I hope that outside of our families we will hug again. In the meantime, I'm grateful to be married to a champion hugger who has passed his skills on to our daughters. I've come a long way in the art of hugging and I still have a lot to learn.
And I ask myself: what does it mean to hug again on the other side?
Ariella Cook-Shonkoff is a licensed psychotherapist and art therapist based in Berkeley, California.