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My Two-Hour Hug Fest

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Good to See You

Good to See You by Andrea Caballero Salcido

The lumberjack of a stranger and I embraced like old friends after a long absence. His awkward smile mirrored mine as we released each other, but I was surprised by my sense of euphoria.

The “hug fest” at a local strip mall was something I’d agreed to help organize because I supported the project’s mission of drawing attention to the growing epidemic of loneliness. But I’d been hesitant. After all, in our isolated suburban world, would the invitation to embrace a stranger come across as intrusive, or downright creepy? Then there was the other reason for my apprehension. My mother had instilled the need to keep my distance from strangers, exemplified most terrifyingly by that classic boogeyman, the driver proffering a tempting candy bar. So effective were my mother’s admonitions that if a man even drove past on our neighborhood road, I’d scramble as far away from the potential threat as possible, scraping my legs on the bramble bushes lining the sidewalks. But strangers in cars were not the only menace. The introduction of the Peace Offering during the Catholic Mass in the 1960s horrified my reserved mother, who instructed her children to interact as little as possible with any person attempting to shake our hands. “Fiddle with your rosary beads, read your hymnal, stare at the Virgin M …

Giulietta Nardone lives in Massachusetts where she writes, paints, sings, and exchanges daily hugs with her husband and two cats. 


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