My parents were not very affectionate when I was growing up. That’s why one summer vacation when we were in Florida and I saw them holding hands on an evening beach walk, it stuck with me.
I don’t know if it was that moment, but holding hands became important, a sign of true intimacy.
Man, do you remember this last scene of the final episode of My So-Called Life? I was Angela Chase’s age when this show came out and for many reasons it resonated with me. Especially her infatuation with Jordan Catalano. So of course, this moment in the hallway and the very public hand holding seemed like the most ideal and romantic gesture one could receive in high school.
My senior year, I had an embarrassing, unhealthy crush on a guy friend. We were at a party and for some reason ended up in the garage. It was dark and cluttered, so he held my hand to lead me out. I did not want it to end. I did not want to let go. But he did.
When my first relationship was ending, my then boyfriend said sadly that we never held hands anymore and I wondered whose fault that was. It didn’t feel like mine, and yet I couldn’t deny something had died between us over the years.
In 2011, I was seeing a guy who had made it pretty clear he wasn’t interested in a relationship. But we saw each other a lot and spent all of our time at his place. One evening, we decided to walk to the gas station nearby and he held my hand. At some point he told he it had been awhile since he’d done that with anyone. I did not want it to mean anything, but it did. To me.
I don’t know if there are any Peaky Blinders fans out there, but I just finished watching the fourth season and one episode, or rather, one exchange has prompted this post.
The main character Tommy, takes Lizzie, a former prostitute turned friend/employee, to a place he used to meet his first love. It was forbidden because she was Italian and he was not. She was a communist who wanted to change the world and at the time, he wanted the same. He went off to the war and the girl died of consumption. Anyway, someone reminds him of this girl, so he takes Lizzie there and tells her he hadn’t been back since he was young, but wanted to bring her. She asks “are you thinking of her or me?” and he answers “you” right before kissing her.
After they finish having sex, he puts his hand out for her to hold, to lead her out. To me it was the equivalent of staying all night, of showing her that it was more than just a physical interaction.
Later it’s very clear that Lizzie is in love with Tom. The feelings are not mutual. She ends up getting pregnant from that encounter and hopes he’ll put a ring on it. Instead, he offers a weekly allowance and a new house.
I couldn’t help but identify with the pain of such mixed signals which ultimately lead to nothing.
But maybe above all, the desire to have the person you like take your hand.