I’ve always loved touch. I love to touch and be touched. My ex-husband was the same way. When I started post-marital dating, it came as a complete shock to me that others didn’t love it as much as I did. While there were no complaints about being touched, one of my first lovers rarely directed those same energies towards me.

According to him, he was all about sustainability. But, as the relationship progressed, it quickly became obvious that our relationship could not sustain my one-sided effort. As I looked at my son and his innate expectation that hugs and cuddles are forthcoming from the world, both on demand and just because, I wondered how someone could arrive at the age of forty-two and be so measured in their expression of emotions.

As I pondered that question, my mind wandered to some of my past relationships and an image of my first love’s parents came to mind. Together for over thirty years, touch was merely another language spoken in their home, as common as the English and French that wove throughout their conversations that it too almost went unnoticed.

Routinely, his father would enter the home and caress his wife’s backside while leaning in for a kiss as she busied herself at the sink. And she, in conversation with her son and I, would often unselfconsciously rest her head in her husband’s lap, allowing herself to lean and relax into the comfort of his strength.

The language of touch in this household was not only one the two of them spoke. One evening, about eight months before her untimely death, she moved easily about the kitchen floor. With Latino music wafting softly through the warm evening air, her son smoothly rose from his chair, extending his arms in an invitation to his mother to join him in a tribute to the moment. Effortlessly, she flowed across to the center of the floor where they met, dancing as if practiced a million times before. Lost in the moment, each in tune with the other’s rhythm, they danced, eyes locked, moving inside of the music like an extra note that complements the pre-ordained arrangement. Although the moment soon ended, the energy created remained, permeating the room and charging the atmosphere with love.

And then it occurred to me. Like a prevailing theory of sustainability based on the use of hydrogen as the energy source of the future, giving and receiving touch is a currency fundamental to the success of any relationship. By touching, you are connecting with another, creating a deposit in the energy grid from which the two of you draw. And, it is this grid, if rich enough in deposits, that creates a daily language of love and sustains your relationships through the tough times.

For my son, it is my hope that he never loses his perception that touch is a simply another language, one as essential to life as the air that he breathes. For I know that it will allow him to have happy and fulfilling relationships, sustaining them when words fail and actions trip him up. As a currency to possess, it seems worth more than its weight in gold.