"Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism." ~Leo Buscaglia
Admittedly, this blog post has little to do with writing. It's just something that's been on my mind lately.
The cheek kiss. Now, I'm not talking European or Latin/South American culture, where it's the norm to give a kiss (at least one, usually two) on the cheek(s) for greeting.
But it wasn't until I moved to the NYC suburbs about 11 years ago that I really discovered the novelty of the cheek kiss in this country. See, where I come from originally, anyone who's saying hello or goodbye to good friends or family gives hugs. Big, warm, two-armed hugs. It's rather nice. This remained true when I moved to Ohio; mid-westerners hug too.
When I moved to downstate NY, I discovered that most people around here don't hug. Instead, they give kisses on the cheek. While this may sound like a relatively minor difference, I gotta tell you, it took some getting used to. I'd lean in for a hug, and instead I'd get a cheek pressed next to mine, with someone's lips making a kissing sound in the air beside my face. It's sort of embarrassing, when your arms are hanging out there, ready for a big ol' embrace, and the person has already moved on to air-kiss someone else. OK, once in a while, lips do make skin contact, but not that often. Mostly we're kissing the air and making smacking sounds with our mouths as a way of saying "Hey, so great to see you," or "Take care now - see you soon."
I've gotten pretty good at negotiating the cheek kiss after all this time. I've mastered the position and the timing like a native down-stater. However, I still refuse to kiss the air if I can help it; I swoop in for an honest-to-goodness peck on the cheek as often as I can.
Still, I miss the hug, I really do. There's something much warmer about that kind of greeting. It's a whole-hearted, whole-bodied commitment to the expression of hello or goodbye.
What about where you live? Cheek kiss, hug, or something else? Or nothing at all?