I Kiss My Friends, and You Should, Too 

December 5, 2021

Graphic by Emma Weeden

In defense of a love we cannot live without.

When I was younger, I would occasionally wake up from a bad dream with hot, tear-stained cheeks. After a few moments of shaky sobbing, my mother would pull me from the covers and cradle me back into a sound slumber. Even two summers ago, when I cried at the kitchen table about leaving for college, my mother wrapped her arms around my shoulders and comforted me back to reality.

The maternal construct is something unique to the world. “Mother nature” represents Earth’s divine relationship to her creatures and the love and nourishment she shares with them. A mother not only refers to a person, but also describes a being that holds comfort and consolation for another. We share our first breath into the world with someone who creates us from nothing. This maternal bond is forever, whether it continues between a mother and child throughout their life, or passed to another person.

When I left for college, I said goodbye to more than the place I had known for eighteen years of my life. I was saying goodbye to the meaning that Mom held. No longer could I run to my mother after a nightmare or when I scraped a knee on the sidewalk pavement. Moving away from home boiled the word Mom down to a phrase to describe a family member. Someone who  cared, nurtured, and looked after me in the past, but was now tucked away behind my shelved baby scrapbooks.

But when our mothers are miles away, how do we find reassurance? Do we assume the role of a mother, playing both the victim and the medicine? It is human nature to seek comfort in others, to find refuge in another’s arms. This vital source of affection has been stigmatized, cutting off its circulation between people and their relationships.

Society has spoken certain rules into existence. Affection is reserved for couples. Kissing, hugging, holding hands, touching. Physical contact seems to be acceptable only between members who are planning to spend their life together.

Graphic by Emma Weeden

The day I felt uneasy in the backroom at work, I trembled against the wall, tears welling up in my eyes, trying to contain myself. When my coworker came in, he wrapped his arms around me, whispering comforting words and smoothing my hair. He did not pay any mind to the judgement of social presentation. He expressed love when I needed it most, becoming the feeling of a mother when mine was not there. The intersection between motherly love and comfort from a friendship reveals the importance of finding support through others by way of physical touch.

My friends and I live five hours from each other. Spending time with one another is a gift, so when we part we hug and kiss goodbye. Europeans have long participated in this gesture as a sign of friendship, respect, and comfort. The stigma in America against platonic kissing is proof that physical touch has become dehumanized. But touch can take the form of any medium —  allowing two beings to hold a deeper connection, transmitting a feeling of congratulations, gratitude, comfort, happiness. Physical touch in platonic love cannot only be associated with motherly beings because when it is, other relationships lack the tangible aspects that drive humans to connectivity. The physicality of love and care must be able to come from anyone to anyone and not be bound by definitions. Friends can hold hands and kiss and dance. An affinity for someone does not have to be attributed to lustful devotion, but to harmony shared between more than one person. Touch has long been criminalized as a form of sexualization, preventing us from receiving a necessity of the soul. Break the rules, and love truly — a kiss has no price tag. ■

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