A co-worker made a joke as she walked past, tracing her fingers lightly across my back in a way that was nothing but friendly. Even now, I am fascinated at the way my entire body responded to her touch. It wasn’t sexual, but it sent tingles down my spine. Every part of me warmed, liked I had just finished doing shots. It did not pass quickly. It lingered like the goosebumps that rise during a persistent wind, or the way skin heats up when exposed to the sun.

The realization hit me like a bucket of water to the face: It has been such a long time since I was really touched.

A touch just for the sake of acknowledging that someone else is here, and human. A warm show of appreciation or affection. Something so off-handed that I’m sure she didn’t even realize she was doing it, and yet it shook me.

It’s not that I live without physical contact. My kids climb all over me, demand hugs and kisses. They tug my hands and pull me around, falling asleep with their elbows in my face, planting themselves on my thigh until my leg goes numb. My husband and I hug and kiss by automatic response when I leave the apartment, sit side by side on the couch with our arms touching, clasp hands over the toddler sleeping between us as we drift off at night.

But as for touch that is genuine and natural, that is not born of habit, and that demands nothing? It is non-existent in my world.

Of course, sex is in a class of its own. I haven’t been laid in awhile, but even if that wasn’t the case, sex is different from no-strings affection. And then I try to remember…when was the last time I had sex out of nowhere? When was the last time my hand innocently brushed against someone else’s, sending a spray of electricity, shocking us both? When was the last time I looked up into someone’s eyes, innocently, with no agenda, and just let the mood build? When was the last time I had sex that unfolded like a story? Sex that just happened?

I miss that.

I am all for going after what I want. For both parties being up front. For meeting someone with the full-knowledge that both of us are only there because we want to bang. But there is something so real about the chance meeting, the slow connection, the touch for the sake of touch until there is nowhere to be but on each other, grasping and naked.

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