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I stopped breathing the day I read this:

In a perfect world, you could fuck people without giving them a piece of your heart. And every glittering kiss and every touch of flesh is another shard of heart you’ll never see again.

— from ‘Bitter Grounds’ / Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman.

Damn. I still can’t breathe when I think about that.

My generation (‘X’), the daughters of Modern Feminism, were told that casual sex and the ability to make love ‘like a man’ was possible.

Can we really touch each other without consequence?

I can’t.

In the spirit of sisterly solidarity, I gave it the old college try but I could never truly muster the ability to separate physical love from emotional.

Every touch means something to me. 

A moment. A connection.  A possibility.

Even something as seemingly insignificant as a handshake holds the potential to change my life.

Orthodox Jews and devout Muslims will not touch a woman other than their wife because the sharing of flesh is such a holy act.

I find myself deeply bound to the people I touch; even more so to the people who touch me.

A touch starts with a spark of contact; a white-hot tingle, a chilling flush. If it’s momentary, it can be a sudden quake that hatches a thousand chrysalises and if it lingers, a flood of giggles mix with a warm cup of the most delicious chocolate and I am suddenly safe, content, home.

Volumes are spoken in the silence of shared pressure, duration and intensity.

Someone’s touch transcends corporeal contact and cuts me deeper than I can comprehend.

When a touch is relinquished, I am left scarred by indelible fingerprints.

Sometimes, I’m afraid to touch people, in anticipation of the inevitable tattoo. I shy away, hesitant to take on a new mark.

I wonder if I’m running out of room.

And in turn, I wonder how much more I’m willing to give away. How many shards do I have left? If our heart is the strongest muscle in the body, how is it that it is so easily shattered?

Then again… from broken things, beauty is possible.

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KIMBERLY M. WETHERELL Kimberly's many and varied lives have included actor, stage manager, opera and film director, producer, writer, and restaurateur. She only has three lives left and she's not going to waste a single one of them. The first Arts & Culture Editor for TNB and creator of the TNB Literary Experience, Kimberly has been published by Rizzoli in the book Brooklyn Bar Bites, CRAFT Magazine, The Mighty, and SMITH Magazine, among others. She co-founded the food and drink reading and storytelling series DISH at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City and she's working on multiple projects including her debut novel, several screenplays, and a documentary about female film editors. She thanks you for stopping by and sitting a spell.

2 responses to “Touch Me, Heal Me”

  1. Autumn says:

    There are those in the polyamorous lifestyle who believe that even “purely physical” interactions are emotional on some level. If sex is fun, and fun is an emotion, then perhaps all sex is emotional.

    But who I am kidding? I also never learned to separate sex from emotion. The few times I tried, I felt either ashamed or foolish, or both.

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