I am a hugger. I am aware that not everyone is and try to do my best to read the room (unless you are my kid, in which case all bets are off).
I am also a particular kind of crier, or maybe tear-er. Not so much out of sadness per se, but more when I am emotionally filled to overflowing. An athlete's leave-it-all-on- the-field effort, a moment of wordless soul-touch with another living being, an exploding squawking frustration, a laugh-so-hard-my-belly-hurts—these things have me crying.
The other night my husband and I drove up to Portsmouth, NH, to see 77-year-old Bettye LaVette, celebrated by the New York Times as "one of the great soul interpreters of her generation," and as she told us at the start of the show, "the oldest person to get paid to make an album," with reference to the recently released "LaVette!". It was an extraordinary experience in all sorts of ways, as Bettye spent two hours rasping, aching, inhabiting, and exhibiting something from deep in the gut through words, music, and movement. She is winking, confessing, professing, and bearing witness to what it is to be human and alive.
At one point, Bettye leaves the stage and walks barefoot, heels long kicked off, through the maze of cocktail tables around which people once seated now stand. She repeats over and over again the refrain of the song she began on stage: "It's alright, it's all right." One of the men we'd been sharing a table with all night turns to follow her through the crowd, and we catch each other's tear-streaming eyes. Without thinking, we simultaneously reach out with an offer, a request, or simply an instinct to make contact. In her willingness to leave the stage and join the audience, and through her extraordinary musical gifts, Bettye pierced some sort of veil of separateness, leaving in her wake a palpable openness that made different levels of human connection possible. Wow. I hope you all find opportunities to move and be moved in ways big and small every day and in every way.