On the memory of touch in the time of social distancing — part four.

‘The “feel” in my skin and the “feeling” in my mind’

I’m beginning to feel claustrophobic. I’ve been sandwiched between three other bodies for some time now. It could be 5 minutes, it could be half an hour, I’m really not sure. In this state of constant touch and constant motion, rolling over each other, I find it easier not to think. Not to examine too closely what is going on, but just focus on sensation. I will myself into a kind of trance, because if I dwell on what is happening between me and these strangers I start attaching meaning where there is none.

All that matters in this moment is the connection between bodies. My cheek brushes up against someone’s head of hair, my foot pokes the tense muscle of someone’s thigh. My elbow collides with the hard floor, while my soft tummy meets the sharp edge of someone’s shoulder blade. A drip of someone else’s sweat lands on my skin. I keep my eyes closed and hope that I don’t connect with another person’s intimate body parts. Arms, legs, face, head, hands, feet, back, stomach, these are all safe areas. Chest and groin, not so much.

Read the full essay on Medium, see link below…

On the memory of touch in the time of social distancing — part four.

On the memory of touch in the time of social distancing — part three.

‘The sensory isolation is driving us mad.’

I’ve become obsessed with a certain Instagram account over the last week. It’s a steady stream of insanely cute photographs showing a baby hanging out with his very fluffy dogs in different cosy scenarios — on the sofa, in a cushioned window seat, on a bed. In this adult-free world the dogs appear to be taking care of the baby and I find the snuggling going on both triggering and soothing all at once.

I was broody before this quarantine period started and now I’m craving any kind of bear hug, cosy cuddle or playful tumble. At the very least, I wish I had a pet that I could hold. I am now completing my fourth week in isolation as I type this. The first two with a teenage guest in my house, which was fun. And now two more alone, which is errr… less fun.

Read the full essay on Medium, see link below…

On the memory of touch in the time of social distancing — part three.

On the memory of touch in the time of social distancing — part two.

“BUDDY! WE DON’T TOUCH THINGS NOW!”

Yesterday, I accidentally touched my lip. I touched my lip with my glove. My OUTSIDE glove!

I don’t know about you, but each day I regularly confuse myself with my own strategies to stay safe when I go outside. I wear my soft leather winter gloves to open shop doors and pick food up off the shelf, but then I’ll remove my glove to extract my debit card from its case. Gripping the thin plastic in my outstretched fingers, I hover delicately, trying not to touch the contactless machine with my contactless card, while getting close enough to trigger the money-sucking beep.

As I wait for the cashier to confirm my purchase, I might absent-mindedly adjust my glasses with my exposed hand or maybe with my gloved hand. Some days I forget to put my glove back on as I am leaving the shop and, reverting to normalcy, push the shop door open with my bare hand. Now I get a shock if I touch metal or glass with my skin, the coolness of the smooth surface reminding me of the new protocols that I just failed to follow.

Of course, I can’t wait until I get back to the house to check my phone. I remove my glove again, using the fingerprint mode to unlock the dastardly device and the warmth of my finger tips to navigate across the seductively smooth screen to check for messages, messages that might have landed in the 2 mins since I last checked my phone. Meanwhile, I am holding the phone in its case with the other gloved hand.

On my excursion, within the space of ten to fifteen minutes, I have easily cross-contaminated everything in my possession. By now, I imagine the inside of my gloves are just as germ ridden as the outside, so most probably all this convoluted effort makes no difference at all.

Before I took to wearing gloves while shopping, I spent a week or so pushing and pulling public doors open with my sleeve pulled up across my hand. Moments after leaving a store, walking down the street, I’d feel an urge to itch my face. Conscientiously, knowing I shouldn’t touch my face with my hands, I use my sleeve instead to satisfy that compulsion — the very same sleeve that just opened a potentially contaminated door handle. I have to laugh, it is so ridiculous.

Read the full essay on Medium, see link below…

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