When you’re a twin and one of three kids, it’s inevitable your parents come up with superlatives to define you from your siblings. I was a lot of things; the verbal one, the stubborn one, the funny one, the littlest one, and (and this usually surprises people) the cuddler. I was the touchy-feely one. I needed to be all up in everyone’s business, climbing in their laps, I needed to be brushing out my mom’s hair and beating my brother to be picked up by my dad when he came home. And I made him pick me up even when I was way too big and his back was way too busted for it to be a good idea for either of us.
I say this is surprising now because I’m pretty much the opposite of a physically affectionate person. I suppose I am in relationships. At least, I was at 15, which was the last time I was in a relationship, but these things change. What I do know is that while plenty of other girls would drape themselves over each other and hug as greetings, and still do, I’ve never been good at that, or liked it. Maybe it’s because I’m so very, very tiny and anyone who hugs me inevitably makes me feel a little like I’m being smothered. Maybe it’s because I’m so jumpy and sensitive. Maybe I’m just a closed off person. I just don’t really do touching unless it’s my parents, who I still hug a lot, or my siblings, who I hug if they’re leaving for a trip or something. Even my best friend, who I may as well be related to, only ever touches me when she’s having an utter emotional meltdown, and that’s not just because she’s all repressed and WASP-y.
The thing is, the instinct to cuddle never really died, just because I stopped doing it. I really just stopped feeling right doing it. I stopped feeling okay with requesting hugs from my parents several times a day, I got too big to fit in laps, I started being self-conscious about where my boobs went and if something was inappropriate or vaguely sexual, and I just stopped touching people. It wasn’t tragic, or at least, not any more tragic than adolescence inherently is (which is still pretty fucking tragic), it just was. It just is.