The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Holding Hands

October 22, 2007

Holding Hands

At church last evening, the worship leader asked the congregation, if we were comfortable, to hold hands with one another as we sang the final stanza of a worship song.

I tried not to snicker. I understood the sentiment of the worship leader. Holding hands, as a congregation, was an expression of unity, comfort even.

But it was terribly Kum-Ba-Yah-ish, holding hands and singing in a church. It was also slightly morbid since we were a congregation of young adults singing about going to meet Jesus when we... er... died.

I was sitting between two young men when this call to hold hands came about. Both of them innocently offered me their hands and so I put my hand in theirs. We clasped hands and sang about Jesus and death. And it felt strange to be holding hands with men who weren't my Someone.

The last time we'd held hands, my Someone and I, we were walking towards towards the departure terminal of the airport. This was The Goodbye. He was going back home and I was staying in Los Angeles. It would be months before we would be together again. We walked silently, our fingers intertwined. I felt small and helpless. I tried not to cry.

When he let my hand go there were many thoughts going through my head, but I didn't think at the time, "I'll miss holding hands."

Holding hands is such a simple act of intimacy. But to get it just right is a skill. Back in high school when I took acting classes, my acting partner and I performed a scene from Romeo and Juliet. Let me just say that it's hard to express any kind of love, Shakespearean or otherwise, when Romeo's holding your hand wrong. Perhaps it was the awkwardness of two teenagers playing at being in love, or perhaps the poor boy didn't know what he was doing, but our fingers were consistently misaligned. Every time he grabbed my hand and put his fingers through mine, he left my pinky hanging.

An article in The New York Times talks about how hand-holding is one aspect that hasn't been affected by the sexual revolution. Numerous interviewees throughout the article talk about how hand-holding is something couples lead up to. Holding hands can sometimes be more intimate than kissing. Apparently there's a higher chance of rejection when you reach for someone's hand than there is stealing a kiss at a party. Hand-holding in public is a sign to those around that you are taken. These days, when the one-night-stand is so common that it's merely a throw-away joke on our sitcoms, hand-holding among couples has become a significant sign of connection and commitment.

When my Someone and I hold hands, I'm struck by how much we say to each other without using a single word. One of my favorite memories from this summer was when my Someone and I went to the Taste of Chicago. As we approached Grant Park with the other hundreds of thousands of people who were also going to the Taste, he instinctively reached for my hand. Once my hand touched his I knew that no matter how many people were out that day, I wouldn't be lost. That day, we talked about pizza, high school memories and probably at some point, as we inevitably do, pirates. He never said, "I'm watching out for you." But simply, by reaching for my hand, he did.

Thankfully, there are no hanging pinkies with my Someone. And even better, we agree that fingers intertwined is how we like to hold hands. The clasping of hands is reserved for small children, saying grace at the dinner table and, yes, people at church you worship with.
The moment the worship song ended last evening, hands were briskly let go. Again, I tried not to snicker. There were many thoughts in my head then too. But this time I did think, "I miss holding hands."

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