““You’re chained to you reason … Understanding is only a very small affair, so very small.”
Carlos Castaneda

A Separate Reality

Patricia’s Embrace


Yesterday was a city day. Our last stop was a hardware store, we got to it 15 minutes before it closed. We went directly to get the two products we needed and got in line at a cashier. Ahead us were a father and daughter.

As we hovered together in line, she was moving around, as kids will often do. At one point she ended up standing right next to me. She was small, she reached higher than my knee but lower than my waist. She looked up at me, smiled (teeth missing and all), moved closer and put her arm around me, embraced my leg and leaned her head against my side. Just like that. She was soft and confident and her embrace was full and delicate. I asked her in my limited Romanian “are you staying with me?” and she replied “yes”. We stayed like that for a bit and then Iulia engaged with her and asked her name, “Patricia” she replied. I asked Iulia to ask her how old she is and she replied “6”. She then turned to Iulia, smiled at her, spread her thin arms open and took Iulia into a full embrace.What a soft ending to a city day.

In the car, Iulia explained to me that the girl had down-syndrome and that she is therefore more comfortable expressing herself emotionally through touch than through words. The “explanation” felt awkward to me. I don’t doubt the truth of it. I can see that identifying such a condition can be useful in providing her with the support and living conditions she may need to thrive. Yet, more prominently, the label felt like it made Patricia smaller, as if it it made her slightly less visible, how easy it is to allow her to become a category first and a unique individual second.

I felt touched by an angelic creature, a gifted, emotionally sensitive being. A natural born healer.

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