I have a little habit that goes everywhere with me, and what could be the use of it is more than I can see…
The other day I was at the computer, thinking over an email, when I realized a paintbrush had found its way into my hands while I was thinking. As I had been painting earlier, its presence wasn’t altogether surprising, but I was wondering how I’d managed to sneak it into my hands without realizing it. As my fingertips fluffed the camel hair tip over and over again, I was lulled into a bit of a trance, and began to think back to where this habit first began.
Ever since I was a very little girl I’ve been drawn to soft, velvety textures. When I was about 3 I had been given a 20″ pink bear with velvety paws and a velvety muzzle. I took that bear everywhere, and I loved rubbing my face into her soft fur. Eventually I spilled juice on the bear in an attempt to share, and after her trip through the washing machine, she was never the same. But as it happened, my grandmother, who had given me the bear, happened to have another bear just like it, in tan. So whenever I went to her house, I would ask for the bear and would bury my cheek in its furry head as I watched TV or during naptime (but making sure not to feed any juice to this bear).
In pre-K our teacher once treated the class to a guessing game with real (albeit small) prizes. Once all the questions had been asked and the game was over, we were allowed to pick from among some small toys our teacher kept in a box. Being a little shy, I decided to go last, and when my turn came my teacher gave me a small sad smile and said, “Sorry, but it looks like all the good prizes were taken”. But when I looked, I found a tiny white bear wearing a wee red bow. Truth be told, it was one of those bears used for craft projects- it was the size of my (current) thumb, and a little dusty, but when I picked him up and felt the brushy texture of his fur, I immediately wanted him. I spent the rest of the day putting him up to my cheek and nuzzling him. Later that day, when my parents saw the bear, as well as my pride over having won the little guy, they were confused. “What are you so happy about? It’s a cheap little plastic bear; you could buy a pack of those for less than a dollar,” my father said as I showed it off to him. But he was soft and velvety and all mine. Eventually I lost him, and would collect many of these tiny fuzzy friends in different sizes, colors, and styles.
And that’s how it’s been for a lot of my life. There’s something hypnotic about feeling velvet or brushes between my fingertips or on my hair, and I can remember more than one instance where I completely tuned out to what what happening around me or what was being said to me simply because of the sensations on my fingertips. The touch pulls me in, and I become aware of every little section and crevice being triggered as the fibers pull past them, over and over. It’s definitely a self soothing technique, though I’m also prone to doing it if I’m excited or pensive. I suppose you could say it helps keep me from feeling too overwhelmed by any emotion, good or bad, though I’m unlikely to do it if I’m already there.
That isn’t to say I’m not picky about it. I try to avoid wearing velvet clothing, not only because frankly it’s too darn hot, but also because all I’d want to do is feel the thing the whole darn day. There are certain brush textures I don’t like or have no reaction to, like synthetic brushes. Nylon brushes don’t trigger my skin at all, and plastic brushes are awful. It can make putting makeup on a challenge, which is why I only use synthetic brushes. Having someone apply makeup on my face using natural fiber brushes is almost dizzying, and actually somewhat unpleasant.
But there is no brush better than my own hair. Often people will comment on seeing me play with the ends of my hair, which essentially involves me lining up my ends into a makeshift brush and running my fingertips over them. With freshly cut ends the feeling is best, and often when I’ve just cut my hair I can’t keep my hands off it. Perhaps it’s for the best, or I might be walking about with tiny bears or sable brushes in my pockets, which are harder to explain away!
Any quirks to share? Feel free to comment below!