Times Not To Snuggle

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that snuggling is awesome. It soothes the lizard brain with warmth and physical safety and satisfies the mammalian brain’s need for community and contact. There are various schools of thought surrounding how snuggles are best executed (attire or lack thereof, location, time of day, other prerequisite or anticipated activities, et cetera), but the value of the activity itself has never been in dispute.

Despite the overwhelming benefits of snuggling, there are times when it’s just not the thing. As much as we’d like snuggling to be a panacea, a fabled cure-all that obliterates all discomfort and amplifies only joy and pleasure, it is not and cannot be so. Nothing can.

In that spirit, I offer the following list.

Times Snuggles Are Not The Answer

  • Vomiting
  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Itches you can’t reach
  • Tax time
  • Job interviews
  • The bends
  • While deep-frying

With an umbrella drink in my hand

Some time in the next eight hours, I will be on vacation.

Things I plan to do: Lie in the sun, sleep (if possible, given our camp’s proximity to the main stage), dance excessively, drink, make new friends, maybe read my book.

Like a lot of big trips (especially to new places), I’m dealing with some anxiety about going, even though every single person who’s talked to me about it has told me what an amazing event and what a wonderful location it is. This is pretty normal for me, now that I think about it–I’m often worried about forgetting something crucial, getting lost on the way to wherever I’m going, getting in fights with the people I go out with and being left alone, being forgotten when it’s time to leave… so many things.

Obviously these fears aren’t based in reality. They’re some leftover childhood things that pop up in a lot of different ways throughout my life–it’s just a question of identifying them now, in this context, in this place and time. They look a little different every time they appear, but they’re always about the same stuff, and all need to be dealt with the same way.

The things I’m afraid of aren’t real. The reactions I have to them are the reactions of a child, not the reactions of an adult.

Some time in the next eight hours, I will be on vacation. Anxiety? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Grieving rituals

The Girlfriend and I went to a funeral today. I’d met the person who died only briefly, during a party, and didn’t feel any particular sorrow or loss beyond the general “How unfortunate” kind of sympathizing that accompanies premature death.

The funeral was in Simi Valley, in a cemetery on a hill. The grave site was encased in a bowl of greening slopes and old boulders, the kind of near-desert landscape that makes up that part of the greater Los Angeles area. It was hot, eighty-five or ninety degrees. Sweat rolled down my back as the rabbi intoned the Hebrew version of Psalm 23.

Sporadically, the people around me would break down and cry. One of the things I really like about the Burner community that I’ve witnessed so far is the weightless willingness to show affection for each other. That emotional openness extended to their grief. People wept unabashedly, hands lifting out from their sides to cling to those of their neighbors. Men put their arms around their friends, holding them from behind like lovers would, heedless of the usual social conventions that forbade them from being affectionate with members of their own sex. Under the awning, family members whimpered into kleenex, but that, at least, was expected.

Chris loaned me her sunglasses for the service, and I watched it all from behind the polarized lenses. At one point the dead man’s sister stood up and told a story about how he’d begged her not to call him her “little” brother anymore, which segued into how he’d helped her write her doctoral thesis, and I had a sharp moment of realization that I had a little brother too, that someday it could be me giving the unexpected eulogy.

I didn’t feel myself welling up, but I cried, and was grateful for the shelter of the sunglasses. I felt like I had a private space in the midst of so much public emotion, and it comforted me.

I didn’t expect to be moved by the funeral of a stranger, and maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I was moved by the gathering of the community, the missed opportunity to know someone my friends loved, the universality of the experience. I wondered if all funerals were really the same at their roots. Odds are, we’ll all play every role a funeral has to offer at some point in our lives.

At the end of the service, a line formed and everyone pitched shovels of earth into the grave. I watched.