(hug­ging)

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Wendy Horn Re­view this­life@theaus­tralian.com.au

I have lived all my 70 years in a small coastal com­mu­nity, built on the back of cray­fish­ing, farm­ing and mining.

It is a town where, un­for­tu­nately, our young peo­ple are no strangers to drugs, al­co­hol and un­em­ploy­ment.

On a sunny af­ter­noon as I walked along the main path to­wards the har­bour of this small town, three young peo­ple walked to­wards me — two young men and a young woman. They were about 16 or 17 years old.

I no­ticed they’d had a swim or been surf­ing as the young woman still had her wet­suit on, while the men were dressed in their board­ies and sin­glets.

They were not fa­mil­iar but seemed very pleas­ant and happy as they came near. They all smiled, but the young man with floppy black curls clos­est to me said “hello”. I did the same and con­tin­ued on my way.

About 10 steps fur­ther down the path I heard a voice say­ing, “Ex­cuse me.” I looked around and this same young man said: “Would you mind if I gave you a hug?”

As a woman who has walked this path a mil- lion times I was stunned, but I smiled and said, “Se­ri­ously?” He said, “I’d love a hug if it’s all right.”

In that in­stant, I weighed up the sit­u­a­tion and thought: what the hell! I walked to­wards him and he, arms out­stretched, walked to­wards me. Hug ac­com­plished.

As he walked away, he smiled and “You’ve made my day.”

I replied: “You know what, you have made my day as well.”

I’ll never know if it was a dare or not but I re­ally didn’t care. I felt good. I spent the next few days think­ing about this ran­dom act over and over.

Each time it brought a smile to my face. I will said, also never know what made me, in that nanosec­ond, choose to hug that young man de­spite hav­ing never laid eyes on him be­fore.

As I later re­counted this story to my part­ner and friends, the re­ac­tions were very in­ter­est­ing. My part­ner, con­cerned by my im­pul­sive re­ac­tion, said: “What on earth were you think­ing?”

He has al­ways felt I see the world through rose-coloured glasses and not the dan­ger­ous place it can some­times be.

One friend said, “There’s no way would have re­acted like that.”

One even had tears in her eyes as she heard the story, per­haps long­ing for a time when these seem­ingly acts of kind­ness were more com­mon.

I’d like to think that my arms will al­ways be open to un­ex­pected sur­prises that come my way.

What would you have done?

wel­comes sub­mis­sions to This Life. To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, the work must be orig­i­nal and be­tween 450 and 500 words. Sub­mis­sions may be edited for clar­ity. Send emails to A song from which film won the best orig­i­nal song Os­car at this year’s awards? Which let­ter falls be­tween delta and zeta in the Greek al­pha­bet? At which two Sum­mer Olympics did Anna Meares win a gold medal? Who pre­ceded Theresa May as Bri­tish prime min­is­ter? Aaron Burr is one of the main char­ac­ters in which mu­si­cal? I

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