There are so many ways to physically connect with someone, but I always felt there’s just so much you give up when you hold someone’s hand. It feels almost like a whisper, something so private, often experienced in space that’s so public…for all to see, but shared between only two.
Like it’s our little secret…
Maybe it makes me old fashioned, but the palm-to-palm interaction—the affectionate linking-of-fingers—seems to me to require a certain closeness and a certain amount of trust.
65 years later, my nana can tell me exactly when my pop first held her hand. She can still affectionately reminisce about a sweet-sixteen he tagged along with her to, and how he reached out to hold her hand on the walk there…she laughs at my shock at the sheer boldness of it. There was no first date, they hadn’t been intimate at any time before…he just asked, “can I come?” and took her hand for the first time as he walked her to the party…and then he never let go.
There’s a symbolism in hand-holding. A wide-spread cultural understanding of togetherness, friendship, and/or affection. As much as it is a whisper, it is a billboard touting a bond between two people. Another reason I chuckled at my grandmother’s story. Pop was marking his territory.
I remember saying once, in a moment of vulnerability, “I’ve never gotten this far…I don’t know what comes next.” I really didn’t. I still don’t. In response I was told, “Just hold my hand…” and I wanted to. Those few words made my palms feel warm and then the rest of my body followed suit…and in my own little world of worry, I wore an uncontrollable grin…and I felt close, and I felt trust, and I knew I would be ok. That moment was just between us…that was my whisper—my “everything will be alright.” And when I finally allowed it, I believed it. That was an intimacy that I guess I needed. I think it even surprised me a bit.
Everyone’s got their one thing…the way they just know…for me, it’s always been the question, “do I want to hold your hand?”