My hands need to be busy. It used to be that my mouth, legs, feet and hands needed to move, ask my pen caps and teachers in grade school, but today, it’s mostly my hands. I enjoy the way things feel; a doorknob can slow my entry into a house and I have been known to “accidentally” take objects from people – I just can’t put them down.

Squeezing, palming, flipping, gripping, tapping, rapping, stacking, twirling, I do with my hands while talking, eating, walking, and otherwise living. There are certain items I grip often enough that the familiarity creates a oneness when we are joined, and when I am away from the object for too long, I crave it.

One of the feelings I look forward to is the wrist-lock grip and prickly plastic feel of pulling our radio flyer wagon. My left hand firmly grasps my right wrist, support I suppose, while my right hand, after being licked (Yes, I try to do it when no one is looking, but prior to getting a good grip on something, I lick my hand. I don’t just dum dum sucker lick it either, I start at the wrist and draw my tongue all the way to the tip of my fingers. Much to the dismay of R. who recently noticed this odd behavior while I readied my hand for a six hour car drive), tightens around the handle. As I engage the wagon with my first pull, I can hear the clanging of bones in my arm, like the metal connections crashing and banging as roller coaster carts tighten and crawl to the top of their first hill. I have had to adjust to the changing weights as the girls get older, but it always feels right.

Twenty steps into our voyage, I hit my zone. My grip connecting me to the girls, my mind elsewhere, as they chatter, munch snacks, or step on one another’s feet. I am a machine, only physically connected, but needing that connection as I either think about everything at once or nothing at all. It’s a comforting feeling, my grip, everything is in it’s right place. I am aware enough to hear if I am really needed, but in a meditative state alone.

Neighbors roll by in their cars, so, I look up and wave, and I feel compelled to smile when strangers pass in theirs. My wave and smile protecting me from their knowledge of my absent mind.

Perhaps, it isn’t an absent mind, but a peaceful, relaxed, enjoyable time in the day for everyone to slow down.

Years will pass and the girls will not fit in the wagon, although R. and I give one another rides every now and again, they will not want to be pulled, or they will simply want to be on their own, and I will have to replace that feeling. Or look crazy pulling a wagon full of dirt around the neighborhood.

I will move on, and I’m sure the feeling of pulling the girls in the wagon will be replaced with something else, but my hands, arms, joints, bones, my whole body will always know that feeling, and look forward to having it again.

My Papa Sense tells me:
Holding on to something, anything, too tight or for too long, can ruin it. The moment we let things go, is the moment memories of those ‘things’ start, and as we walk away from familiarity and towards new, possibly initially uncomfortable, grips on life, we are able to appreciate what our past gave us for the future, dismiss the negative aspects of it, and smile at beauty we found in such simple, mundane activities. It’s the moments in-between the ‘bangs of life’, that connect us to ourselves in real and amazing ways.