I had come there to soak up the ‘good vibes’ and for the next few hours, walked around the area, holding up my own FREE HUGS sign. Feeling quite ‘go with the flow’, as a result of my training and experience as a Cuddle Party facilitator and having come freshly from one the day before, held at my friend Halina’s house , I felt totally fearless about it, regardless of who was a yes to a hug. I lost count after awhile, but estimated that I had hugged at least 200 people from the time I got started at around 2 pm and finished about 4:30 and probably clocked more than 10 miles including those extras from the train and then around and around and around the park and then back to a closer train station and then back to my car once I landed in Doylestown…didn’t need to go the gym that day. Amazingly I only knew a handful of people there, contrary to what my friend Greg has often said… “You who know everyone….” One of the men I hugged who was perched on a stone wall and smiled broadly when I approached with my sign, made a comment that it was like being back in the 60′s, except he had a cell phone in his pocket.
Wearing my anthropologist/sociologist hat, I made some interesting observations about the hugging dynamics in terms of receptivity to what I was offering. There seemed to be no discernible difference between gender…men and women seemed equally willing to hug me. What I did notice was that if there were groups of young women, most of them were eager to hug, while with groups of young men, a few in the group were, while others held back shyly. Older teens and early 20-somethings were more likely to come dancing/dashing over to engage in hugs, while those my age or slightly older would wait for me to come to them. People in their 70′s and beyond seemed less like to engage. Individual men of all ages, reached out. A cultural divide took place as I noticed more often that folks of Indian and Asian origin seemed more reticent and some smiled but waved me off, while African American, Latino and Caucasian people seemed more comfortable and willing to ‘embrace’ the experience. I respected the boundaries of those who were a ‘no’ to hugging by simply smiling and waving.
Some took pictures…how cool to be a tourist attraction in The City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection) .
As I was winding down, I put out a silent wish for someone to join me for dinner before hopping back on the train. I turned around and shrieked with delight when I saw my friends Alan and Jim who had arrived a bit earlier and were actually ready to leave, were heading to dinner and then onto the very train I would be taking home…perfectly timed.
Enjoyed chopstick eaten lomein and veggies at the food court at Market East and conversation about all things esoteric and mundane. With a few minutes to catch the train, we scooted down the stairs and made it just in time and wonder of wonders, actually found 3 seats together. Alan and I have this simpatico connection, and at dinner, I was about to ask them how long they had been together. At that moment, he pipes up…”Jim and I will be celebrating our 27th anniversary next month; I know you were just going to ask.” Can’t keep anything to myself with such people around:)
After goodbye hugs, they got off a few stops before mine and I sat back, watching the lush greenery rush past my window, sighing with deep appreciation about how blessed I am. My vibration had indeed been raised and I would daresay, likely that of anyone who happened to meander through that magical grassy knoll.