asakiyume (asakiyume) wrote,
asakiyume
asakiyume

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the touch of a stranger

One of the most adventurous things I've ever done was go to Timor-Leste, alone, and not just Timor-Leste, but Ainaro, a mountain town a half-day's journey from Dili, the capital. I'm proud of myself for that: I found an English-teaching organization that I could plausibly crash without inconveniencing them too terribly; I reached out, made an application, got accepted, saved money, and went.

My first night was spent in a hostel in Dili. I had gotten a private room, but I was so tense, knowing that the next morning I must successfully get on a bus to Ainaro, that there was no way I could settle. I came out into a common room where an Australian guy was sitting on a fake leather couch, having beer after beer, and watching cartoons on an old TV. He said something pleasant when I came in, and after that we just sat silently together, watching the cartoons. Just being in the presence of another human relaxed me.

I got on the bus successfully the next day--this entry talks about the trip and mentions Victor, the guy I traveled pressed against, because the bus was very packed.

As shelter-in-place has stretched on, the thing I've been thinking of, about that trip--something I didn't mention in that entry--was how soothed I felt to be body-to-body next to someone. It must sound strange. I know that in those sorts of situations on public transportation the world over people get assaulted or harassed, but that wasn't my experience. On the contrary, I felt as safe and cared-for a baby in a parent's arms. I know I was just a visitor and guest, but with skin pressed against skin, I had a literal, tactile connection, and it soaked in. I mean, I don't know how it was for Victor! But for me, something has lingered and never left.

That's something people are missing now. I think of people who are going through quarantine alone, not able to touch anyone ... it's terrible. But I think it's more than that, because I have a husband and a (grown) child whom I can touch and who can touch me, and yet I'm still craving something. My skin yearns to touch and be touched by others--acquaintances, friends, strangers.

Well. Quarantine won't last forever. This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/936799.html. Comments are welcome at either location.
Tags: covid19, east timor, thoughts, timor-leste
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