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knee touch

April 30th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

It’s late on a Friday night and after dinner, the long drive home and a quick change into my ‘after work’ clothes, we climb into his little sportscar and sit, shoulder to shoulder, driving through the settling dusk to pick up my car from it’s day-long service appointment. It’s the first chance we’ve had to connect since I kissed him goodbye at 9:09am that morning, and as the miles ground out under the tires, the familiar whine of the engine in my ears, I relax in to him, the familiarity and common life shared as words fall from our tongues; my day, his day, our life. Our future. Ten years nearly have passed but this never gets tiresome, this shared connection between us, this negotiating of life, even the tiniest of details about the hours apart. After seven years of doing this solo, every moment of raising my boy alone with no one to support even one little decision, it’s one of the treasures of marriage that I covet.

We’re almost there and our minds slow, empty and tired; it’s been a long week, again (and again and again) in the shuffle-step of life shared. I touch the key in my pocket and turn towards the window. And he reaches to me, placing one hand on my knee.

This gesture is so familiar that it shouldn’t even phase me, but tonight, it settles deeply in to my heart and spreads outward in my blood, a warmth coursing through me, his strong fingers gently rounding my leg. This is his move, or my move in our common life, one that speaks a thousand words without uttering a single syllable. Born of struggling through hard moments, of anger built so fierce and sharp that fights for what it wants, 3,650 days of the give and take of marriage, it’s outward appearance bears little understanding of the words pouring forth from this single intimation. It speaks to an ocean around us, ours alone. We could sit there in complete silence and reach for one another, almost in unison, a hand on the knee saying ‘This is ours.’


In a room full of women, she stands, one arm wrapped tight around her as she speaks, while her eyes dart around the room. I recognize what her body says without words. Our eyes catch and for a moment, I sense a relief through her while her beautiful smile widens. The embrace is sweet, and it’s long because we know each others hearts, we read each others words and we just know. As friends that share a portion of their lives and experiences, we just know, and we get each other and it can be a bridge to an outpouring of words, or it can be a vase that holds us gently inside, with our commonness and our just knowing.

We talk but there’s so much going on around us that intimate conversing is impossible and yet, as we begin, as a body, watching and learning, I go to her, taking the seat beside her so she doesn’t sit alone because I know inside her that it’s better this way. We are inside the vase and watching together as women speak of sharing life and emotion and one woman on the screen says emphatically “When we share our brokenness and emotions, our real experiences and our hearts, we open up the door for others to do the same.”

I reach for her, almost without thought, laying a hand on her knee and I feel her relax in to this gesture. I don’t need the words; she knows that I’m saying to her ‘You do this. And this is what happens. And it’s so very good.’ She smiles; and the silence is sufficient, as her emotion and her knowing travel through her heart and blood right to my hand. This isn’t a 10 year marriage, this isn’t even a lifetime of friendship but this is something bigger, a point in time, a friendship scripted from above, where a single gesture can speak more words than one tongue could ever imagine. Where friendships meet in a sacred space that looks like a blank screen and black letters but is so, so, so much more than that. Where a shared experience brings healing and life, opening the door for others to step through, into welcoming arms, lucid in understanding and the necessary transparent grace of one hand on a knee that simply says ‘I know. And this is ours.’

This is Week 33 of {{Just Write}}, over at Heather’s little spot on the internet, The Extraordinary Ordinary.
Ironically, Heather’s {{Just Write}} entry today talks about lil ol me. And that second part of mine up there?
That’s about her. Funny how that works, huh??

4 responses to “knee touch”

  1. Gianna says:

    I don’t do the knee touch as much as the hair touch. LIke when I don’t know what to do with my emotions and I see my friend hurting, I touch her hair. I do the same with my husband. Whether it’s a highly emotional moment or just sitting next to each other, I just want to touch his hair. I don’t think it matters what you touch. (well, yes, it does, but I’m not talking inappropriate touching or wrong touching) I think what matters is that you do touch. Gently. And purposefully. even absentmindedly but only because that’s who you are and you are reaching out.

    Beautifully written. It spoke to my heart.

  2. Oh, this is so beautiful.


  3. heather says:

    um. I am so rarely without words…but um…

    oh kate. thank you for being the kind of person, the kind of friend, that notices and reaches and knows.

    it’s so good to know that you’re out there and that when there are times where we sit together but don’t get to talk, we’re still talking.