March was the month of hugs: 28 hugs, 28 different people, 28 days.

I was a little nervous about it. To get to 28, I was going to have to hug some strangers, and while I’m an enormous PDA proponent, asking strangers for hugs felt scary. I wasn’t sure I could actually do it.

Turns out, I can.

And people are awesome. Not one person I asked for a hug said no. Not one person hesitated. In fact, some people hugged me more than once because… well, because hugging feels really good. There’s this expression people get when you’re breaking through the veneer of their day, coming out of nowhere to ask them for something as ridiculous and wonderful and endorphin-inducing as a hug. They don’t just smile, they open up. They let you in. You can feel it, and in that instant when you’re standing quite literally heart-to-heart… it’s kind of amazing.

Here are the people who helped me spread love in March …

  1. Jill, my sister, with whom I share everything but DNA.
  2. Deanna, the waitress at a restaurant where Jill and I met for dinner. She hugged me twice. The second time, the restaurant was closing and she’d strapped on some running shoes for a late night jog through the streets of Santa Clara.
  3. Dillon, for whom hugging is a superpower.
  4. Charmaine, who hugged me after ringing up my groceries, and
  5. Brandon, the bagger, who felt left out.
  6. Benny (who plays sax) and
  7. Ben (who plays keyboards) and
  8. John (who plays bass) and
  9. Alan (who plays drums). I’d gone to their show determined to hug them – had even announced on Twitter that I would. By the time they’d finished playing, I’d chickened out, but as I was leaving, I remembered who I want to be. I ran back and told them my story and they hugged me cheerfully, and Ben said (with this priceless look of surprise), “Thanks, actually. That was great.” And he was right. It totally was.
  10. Jacquie, The Boy’s friend, who I give rides to because we’re so often going the same way.
  11. Morgan, Jacquie’s little sister who was turning ten on the day we hugged.
  12. Josh, Jacquie’s boyfriend, who hugged me a few days later because Jacquie said, “Oh! Here’s someone you haven’t hugged yet!”
  13. Joey, who is six years old and without a doubt the best villager ever to grace the Beauty and the Beast stage.
  14. Matt, Joey’s appropriately beaming father.
  15. Chad, who hugs me a lot but is particularly good at spotting when I really, really need one.
  16. Otus, who said I look like Dillon’s sister. (Yeah, I hug for corny-sweet compliments. Absolutely.)
  17. My mom, with whom I went on the best date ever in March, and…
  18. my dad, who wasn’t invited.
  19. Danny, who is sweet and smart and likes Michael Chabon almost as much as I do.
  20. Amanda, a barista at the indie coffee shop downtown, who stopped everything, opened the pass-through, and gave me a proper hug as soon as she heard about the project.
  21. Lindsay (who looks kind of like Barbie only prettier) and
  22. Ben (who is her Ken). They were at the coffee shop sitting in big, comfortable leather chairs, but they both stood up to give me a hug.
  23. Kelley, who was sitting at the next table over. He didn’t look like the hugging type, but he was. He didn’t even have to hear the story; he just stood up and opened his arms.
  24. Ray who was sitting at Kellie’s table, smaller and wiry and a little bit shy, but he stood up too. Everybody likes hugs.
  25. Laura who was waiting for her latte. She’s going to film school. She has long red hair and a sweet smile, and she gives great hugs.
  26. T.J. who was outside the coffee shop as I was leaving. I was on a hugging high. I asked if he wanted one and he said yes.
  27. Jay, my friend, who came bearing wine and brownies and the ingredients for dinner. All that, and a hug too. I’m keeping him.
  28. The Boy, who hugs me every day, but today it was when I said he could use the money he’s saving to buy a sword.

April is the month of giving what you need to get. I believe in karma. I believe that, more often than not, we get back what we put out into the world, so why not put out what you’re hoping to receive… Love. Permission. Attention. Forgiveness. Fun. Massages. Cheesecake… Even if you don’t get back exactly what you give, I bet you’ll get back what you need.

Love begets love. That’s my theory. Let’s find out.

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