Because it’s been raining and windy and grey and the streets and roads are covered in layers of wet leaves creating patterns reminiscent of fine silk carpets, and its getting cold, I want to stay indoors to keep dry and warm. And cuddle.
Not coming from a tradition of cuddling, I had to learn as an adult not only how to cuddle, but why someone might even want to cuddle. It took a while. I am happy to report that I am now a master (mistress?) of all things cuddle related, and what I have learned is this: cuddling is indescribably wonderful.
To engage in cuddling and snuggling requires a warm and ideally sentient, somewhat physically flexible other being that molds into your curves and holds you just so and moves in sync with you as you turn allowing each of you to stay connected, embraced and cared for, unconcerned about any weather or anything because in the moment, it’s all about the comfort and contentment or even the laughter that might burst forth, and the feeling of calm that lets you release a deep mmmmmmmmmm.
Granted, it is a bit different if you cuddle with your dog or cat or rabbit or bird. First, not all of them talk, and even fewer laugh and they (animals) don’t like to move around so much when they are cuddling and snuggling. My dog, Parker the poodle, is good with hugs and likes cuddles; Snuggles? Not so much.
I find that cuddling is an act of profound relational intimacy: it’s sharing air molecules in a limited space for unlimited time. It’s sharing the curves and sounds and scents of each other’s body. It is hands, arms, torso, legs and heartbeats close together; it is soothing, peaceful, affectionate and offers a sense of belonging and perhaps of emotional safety. Between lovers, cuddling grounds your entire being in that utter, sopping love and adoration and affection, from toe to forehead and everyplace inbetween, the no-light-no-space-can pass-through afterglow kind of cuddles.
Some people consider cuddling sexual, which it is not. That being said, sometimes cuddling starts and can on occasion lead to things your parental units told you to be careful of: not quite like looking both ways before you cross the street, but somewhat similar when you consider the impact can be just as devastating to certain body parts, like the heart.
In that ‘there are two kinds of people in this world’ way of dividing people into categories, we can now add to the list people who cuddle and people who do not.
Because the world does not fall neatly into either/or for the other category of people who want to cuddle and can’t, or those who want to learn to cuddle, there is a solution: Cuddle Parties.
Reading though the background materials on the party, it seemed to make sense until I read a quote from one of the participants about potentially becoming a cuddle addict. Then I worried a bit.
A cuddle addict? Black market cuddles? Counterfeit cuddles? Cuddles laced with some toxic substance?
Normal people from all walks of life, maybe not people like you and me but other normal, regular people go to these parties and over the course of close to four hours are down on the floor cuddling with someone they didn’t know when they walked in the room. (I use the term normal loosely since what’s normal is simply what’s common.) The need to cuddle is coming out of the closet and going mainstream. Cuddle parties are everywhere! England; Australia; Sweden, and the US in such cities as Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta and now, in Canada, right here in Toronto.
I am not, NOT, NOT going to judge.
Time to check my understanding of the word cuddle in case it changed its meaning since I first learned it. When it’s a verb its meaning is to:
– hold (another person or thing) close; or (of two people, etc.) to hold each other close, as for affection, comfort, or warmth; embrace; hug.
When it’s a noun it’s about a close embrace, especially when it’s for a longer period of time.
Snuggle is also a verb, and its meaning is to:
– nestle into or draw close to (somebody or something) for warmth or from affection, also generally for a long period of time.
Note that a hug is generally a time limited activity. Cuddles and snuggles are not.
Tupperware parties I understand. Even Tomboy Tools parties. But Cuddle parties? With Cuddle Lifeguards? In your PJs? For nearly four hours? And so I put the whole concept of cuddle parties on the table and under glass to look at it from every conceivable perspective I could: psychologically, sociologically, anthropologically, and a few other fields including culturally, upside down, from across the street, artistically — even counter-culturally, which is indeed what it may be: for me the notion of a cuddle parties challenges notions of social space + boundaries + barriers, and intimates and strangers.
I asked a few of my friends if they’d sign up for a cuddling party. “Is it a singles event?” asked one of my single friends. “It’s more intimate than kissing,” said another . All of us pondered that comment and agreed that in a way, that’s true. At least for all of us. My friends would not attend a cuddle party. Perhaps we are all too tightly wound up to hug and cuddle people we do not know? But we ARE all quite curious about the parties and the people who attend them and what happens afterward and how people might be changed by the experience.
Last year I read about laughter yoga thinking it impossible for me to laugh for the sake of laughing. Yet watching a video of a laughter yoga session I could not help but laugh and I did feel lighter afterward. I might if so inclined attend a laughter yoga class. But a cuddle party? Hmmm. I’d need to be braver, or have a reason other than curiosity. So if anyone out there attends one, will you tell me all about it?
In the meantime, as autumn makes way for winter I will continue to hone my cuddling skills. Hope you get to do the same with all the people and creatures in your world.