today on a crowded bus a man sat down right next to me. there were very few seats on the bus, and most of us were, with our thick winter coats like marshmallow buffers, squeezed against one another. but something happened (or didn’t happen, rather) when he slid beside me: he didn’t do the obligatory shift-away/mumbled-apology-for-violating-personal-space thing. he just sort of stayed there, our arms (albeit beneath our coats) providing heat, shoulder-to-shoulder, touching. we didn’t look at each other the whole trip, but we sat, comfortably, the same way i would settle next to a long-time lover on the living room couch.
i suddenly had an overwhelming urge to snuggle closer and rest my head in the curve between his flannel plaid jacket’d shoulder and the nook of his scruffy chin. not because i was sexually attracted to him–again, i only internalized his presence peripherally and viscerally–but because he was a body that, in becoming tactile, made my body tactile too. and there was something very powerful about that.
i didn’t. but i wish i had. i think he would have responded, without a word, by leaning his head on top of mine. and i think that would have been enough.