I Was Touched

several scissors
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I am a low maintenance kind of gal. I have never dyed my hair. (Well, other than my 1980’s ‘Till Tuesday inspired rat’s tail. That was a tail of many colors.) I even chose not to cover the grey coming in. When Peter was alive, I promised him I would go gray with him. Not that it would be a struggle for me to uphold the promise. Now that Peter’s dead, I explain to anyone who will listen, I like my old people’s highlights. I also let my hair dry naturally refusing a curler or a straightener. Once in a while, I will blow dry it with a diffuser, but only if I think icicles will freeze on my head if I don’t. Yes, I have started work with damp hair before.

I’ve had three manicures in my life – two for friend’s weddings and one for my own. My feet have only had two pedicures – one was a birthday gift. I prefer to do my own toes’ paint job thank you very much. I don’t do weekly or monthly massages. I can count on one hand and maybe an added finger on how many professional massages I received in my life. Peter gave the best ones anyway. My makeup is scarce and comes from pharmacies as does my perfume when I wear it. The hotels I’ve stayed at have the numbers 8 or 6 in them. I am great at finding deals on clothing, shoes, and purses. Okay, my Santa purse may have been extravigant…for me. It was, after all, over thirty bucks. I know! When it comes down to it, I’m Betsy from the Block. (I can use this right?)  I am low maintenance, some may say too lazy, frugal kind of gal. I am my mother’s daughter, a mother who only wore lipstick. I am me.

Now comes the odd part, maybe. Yesterday, I went to a hairstylist downtown and had a pedicure. The hair appointment was a day-before-make-an-appointment thing and the pedicure was a passing-by-stopping-in thing.  See, I’ve been craving physical touch in these last few weeks. And no, don’t be immature and go ‘there’. Not what I mean. I mean, actually physical touch, as a connection to another human being.

I am a demonstrative person. I love to hug, kiss my friends and family, and even clasp hands with some friends when I talk. I like to hold and be held. I like a rub of the back or a grasp of an upper arm. I like an arm around me or a soft touch to the cheek, even a messing up of my hair. I like physical contact. There are of course boundaries. Some touches are only appropriate for lovers, not friends or family. But when it comes down to it, I like physical contact. I have always been “that” person.

Peter was good at doling out physical touch. When the kids were young, Peter would draw on their backs, tickle their inner arms, and he unabashedly hugged them. He was physically affection without crossing any line or obnoxious about it. He was a bit shy of public displays of affection except holding my hand, but when we were alone, he gave the best shoulder kneading, or the greatest back rub, or, oh my gosh, his scalp massages were to die for. And being me, loving touch, I was greedy with my requests for any and all of the above. Now he’s gone and all of that is gone and I miss it. I miss it every day and curse Death from taking another thing away from me.

So on Thursday, I decided to get my hair cut. It was a difficult choice because I love my hairstylist from my home. She is kind and funny and I consider her a friend. We hug goodbye at the end of appointments. But she wasn’t downtown. (I did PM her and apologized for my betrayal, and because Courtney is so great, she completely understood.) And I needed something done while I was downtown. I went online and bing, bam, boom, just like that, I made an appointment.

Yesterday morning, as I waited for my appointments, I wonder if this was an odd craving for me to have, to seek out physical touch. I thought, perhaps widowhood took me down this weird road of want. I mean, my need wasn’t sexual, and I wasn’t looking for that in any shape or form. Still, I kept wondering if this was normal. Then, as if the Universe wanted to answer it for me, my bestie sent me a text of an article she thought I would be interested in reading. It was from a widow, Christine Yount Jones. She touched on the same things I’ve been blogging about regarding widowhood and all its trials. One thing she wrote sang to me. She wrote about her need for touch and how it’s okay to have to even pay for it. She, like me, mourned the loss of it when her husband died. It was a “whew, I’m kind of normal” moment. Although, after my rat tail of 1985, my mom may argue differently.

I went to the hair salon feeling a little bit more understood. The washing of my hair, the cutting of it, not only relaxed me, but it also filled a small part of the whole missing. (One of the employees there asked me if I wanted a hand massage while the young man was cutting my hair. Like I was going to say no to that!)  Then, as I exited the hair salon, I passed a nail place next door. I’m thinking there was a purpose for the placement. I made an impulsive decision to walked in and ask if there was availability. There was and so begin the pedicure. And so begin why I’m not crazy about them.  I’m a lot ticklish so the pedicure itself wasn’t very relaxing as I jerked back my feet a few times, almost kicking her face, and bit back the need to run away. Sigh. However, the massaging chair, the exfoliating of my calves and the little back rub afterward were heavenly.

Yesterday,  me, the low-maintenance, Betsy from the block, self,  paid for a haircut and a pedicure. I put aside my thoughts of costs, frivolousness, and the feeling as if I was selling out somehow. And of course, I know I am lucky to be able to put those thoughts aside. No one has to remind me, so please don’t.  The bottom line, the reasons I went for a hair cut and stopped in for a pedicure, comes down to this. I long for Peter in so many ways, including the contact with him, the physical contact with him.

Peter is gone. His touches are phantom memories. I will never feel a caress from his large, callused hands with the just-right touch. I will never feel his awkwardly long arms wrapped around me, holding me, while I take in his scent, ever again. And no matter where I go, who I seek out, no one will ever be Peter.  But for a while, yesterday, while my hair was getting cut and my feet pedicured, I was relaxed. A tiny section of touch was filled, and I felt better, even for a bit. I’ll take it. In the lousy world, I live in without Peter, where good feelings are hard to come by, I’ll take it.