A kiss from a little one. How rare this seems in my life and yet how touching. The pure innocence and smallness of those tiny lips on my cheek impart all the radiant glow of this divine entity. Children are closest to God in nature, pure feeling creatures who act in the moment with their whole beingness. Pain is the greatest pain, joy the greatest joy and they can change in an instant. This is the beauty of Children. I managed to spend most of my day on late trains traveling the width of France across from a mother and her two daughters. I embraced these deities for who they are and what I once was, delighting in their games and noise. I watched as others inwardly groaned at this disturbance of civilized silence and clearly forgot that they once occupied the other role. I shared these wonders with two older women and we formed a small train family, laughing and playing in the aisles. My renowned fish face made a spectacular appearance and children don’t care if you can’t speak French. When the older daughter gave everyone the traditional French cheek kiss goodbye I was surprised to be included for my small part in the day. That little kiss, which I’ve only every recieved from my nephew, sprang on me the wonder of having children. I certainly don’t want any in the near future, but I assume if time does come for creation, that it will be out of the blue like a ghost kiss on the cheek to call forward the presence that wishes to express itself.
I think the European way of greeting also helps to break many barriers of social space and connection. Just as the Japanese bath house serves to level the playing field in the corporate world, something personal is transmitted in a kiss. This isn’t an intimate kiss between lovers, this is the kind of intimate connection between family and friends. Perhaps the French are slow to make friends because they understand the level of commitment required to form a lasting friendship. Something special too is transmitted in a handshake, a bow, or any embrace and greeting. Trying out another cultures greeting feels odd at first since habit has locked in one kind of pattern. I am used to handshakes, but prefer to hug, even new acquaintances. There is always an odd moment when unspoken communication about the greeting gets confused, but even that tells you something about yourself and the other. For our prudish tendencies about kissing, which get put on a pedestal in childhood, the European greeting presents a special boundary to be broken. Having years to practice being close to another’s face must help build the foundation for intimacy and close ties. I don’t think you can kiss another human being without feeling some connection to another.