Horizon at Sandy Point

Friday, January 18, 2019

Hugs and Kisses

The family I grew up in was not very demonstrative. As babies and children, we were held and soothed, but we were allowed to outgrow "too much babying." In the extended family, we were expected to kiss aunts and uncles - a peck on the cheek - and when we were kissed, we would turn quickly to wipe away the imagined spit or lipstick.

I have a memory of being about four, walking home from Dot's Infant Private School on Ariapita Avenue to Gatacre Street. The little group of us were accosted by a couple big boys - Venezuelans we were told studying English - from a high upstairs house. One demanded a kiss which I reluctantly pecked on his cheek then ran down the road to catch up with my friends. It is one of my most mortifying memories.

As teenagers and young adults, we were alert and decorous. "Making out" with anyone was hidden in slow dances, the cinema or discotheque. Maybe the era of dancing apart and more vigorous movements also coincided with more open displays of affection. Out of the end of the sixties, hugs and kisses (with a boyfriend or girlfriend) were tolerated in public. Even if they weren't - I remember couples completely engrossed in each other - "Get a room" had not yet become a phrase!

Slow dancing in Paris (c 1984)

By the time I met Ranji, neither of us had any inhibitions. We couldn't stay out of each other's arms wherever we were. He loved to kiss and cuddle. And then he would whisper outrageous stories: like the time he was hospitalised to have surgery on a lower abdomen hernia. The cute nurse would come to bathe him and he would have a "hard on fit to kill a donkey."  A light slap would send the lil man home again!
 St Ann's (c 1982)

On the trail to Maracas Waterfall (c 1982)

 Nice (c 1984)
St Ann's (c 1982)

In Kenya, on honeymoon, a park ranger we were chatting with was amused by what he called our "grooming" as we would play with each other's hair. Instant image of monkeys taking care of each other; so we were just different monkeys! Maybe touching and other physical displays of affection were also outgrown; or transformed and demonstrated in other ways. Later,  he would say "I love you" with bursts of affection to any and everyone; and mean it in the most open and innocent way.

Michele, D'Abadie (c. 1986)

Dionne, Santa Cruz (c 2010)

Nathalie, on the farm in Santa Cruz (c1988)

Santa Cruz (c 2006)
Rikhi, Carl, Nadine, Santa Cruz (c 2015)
One of his sly sayings was, "You know what they say about men with big feet...(wink wink)" and I would respond, "yeah, big socks." Well, Ranji's big feet were legendary. He would tell the story about when their mother brought baby Ranji home; she would say to visitors, "Would you like to see the feet?" Well, big feet big hands! And in Ranji's case, big heart.

Safe in PopPop's big hands!