H is for Compression Hugs

11 Apr


I don’t remember the first time I had a compression hug.

I just remember I was crying, and Caitlin came to me and held out her arms and said “compression.”  Knowing us, I’ll assume Cait was dressed like a homeless person (read: not wearing pants) and I was upset (read: sobbing uncontrollably).

We’ll also assume I ate McDonald’s that day, because these are 100% safe assumptions and I feel really solid in them.

Compression hugs have proved to be a life saver on more than one occasion.  When things are particularly bad, Cait just turns to me and says, “compression.”  Sometimes we get together after an absence and no words are even spoken, we just hug and hug again.

A compression hug is a real, true hug.  None of that half-assed, sort of poke-you-on-the-shoulder business that my siblings and I do every time we say goodbye.  No, compression hugs are solid, and heavy, and take your breath away for a minute because you need your breath taken away.  You need human touch because, even though it sounds dramatic, you’re losing it.  You need to be brought back to reality.

And sometimes no words, no Joni Mitchell, no extra mustard on your Hot Dog on a Stick will fix things.

These are the times for compression hugs.

Last week, there was one such compression hug day.  This is an odd time of life, this little window where things are so uncertain and stressful and the future looks bright and also incredibly limited and all is possible and nothing is possible.

I’ve actually never really experienced this.  After my undergrad I went straight to my MSW program, overlapping schools for one, manic week.  When I finished my MSW I was hired at my internship and nothing changed in my life, really.  I just spent a few more hours at work than before.  I didn’t move.  I didn’t apply for jobs.  Life chugged along as usual.

And then London, without skipping a beat or a day of work.

And then I quit that life, and sometimes that still blows my mind when I think of it.  A few years ago I was in London working as a social worker and now I’m here in California as a writer, and I’m so, so much happier for it.  I don’t often consider myself a brave person, I even say that in the Divergent world I’m most certainly factionless as there’s no place for divas, but when I quit my life and started over–that was brave.  I can point to that specific moment and say, I’m proud of that.  I’m strong.  I can remake my life.

At the time, it felt so bold.  And it was.  But as I’ve gone on, I’ve realized that life is going to ask me to remake myself again and again.  That was a particularly startling shake up, but the truth is Madonna isn’t the only person who has to learn the art of reinvention.

We all do.

Madonna’s just really, really good at it.

And so, last week, in the middle of a slightly crazed day where it seemed the future had a lot less possibility than it had slammed doors and basement living, I turned to Hilary  and gave her a compression hug.

We were walking to our cars after class in a group of people and the other people stopped and stared and I just said “Do you need another hug?” and Hilary nodded.  And then I gave her one more hug before we parted ways.  And I explained the compression hug theory to our onlookers.

And the next day we applied for more jobs, and thought of new stories and the world was a bit brighter.

And I remembered, and she remembered, that we can reinvent ourselves.  That this little window is a time for patience with ourselves.  That we may not land dream jobs now, or for years and years, and that is OK.  We are OK.

I am OK.

I can do this.

And if I decide I do want to anymore, I can reinvent myself.

And strap on a cone bra.

Because the next Jill iteration best be wearing a cone bra.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

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One Response to “H is for Compression Hugs”

  1. gina April 11, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    ah such a good idea
    your life sounds cool

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