Someday, we’ll sit across a table, you and I. One of those anonymous, unnecessary little coffee shops with fading pencil scratches on the wall and generic branding that over-achieves. Coffee World. Coffee Planet. You will saunter in – you don’t saunter now, but perhaps by then you will have learnt – and slide into the chair in front of me. The movement will distract me from the words I am reading in the book I have open in front of me – no doubt, some complex tale of intermingling lives that detach and reunite – and I will look up at you.
I will look up at you and instinctually smile. It will be a smile that comes quick and easy, devoid of the uncertainty and hesitation that seem to tag along with expectation. It will be a smile that does not wait for one in return. It will be a smile that is real simply because it is thoughtless.
Your reaction will be a small shrug, one that says ‘Here I am’. The jerk of your shoulders will move the collar of your shirt slightly off-center, and I will want to reach over and fix it. You will know this and, feigning a need to scratch the back of your neck, you will surreptitiously fix it yourself. I will nod approvingly and place my hands on the table, as if responding, “Yes, here you are.”
I will be tempted to look around the room, at the part-time cashier drumming her nails against the till to dry the sickly orange polish she just painted on, at the pensioner in the left corner staring intently at an open wallet on his table, the picture of his dead grandson as dog-eared as the edges of his oversized denim jacket hanging limply from the back of his chair. I will want to look at them, just so I do not have to look at you. This, too, you will know and you will reach out with both your hands and place them above mine.
I will look down at these hands, a flat stack of me and you. I will look down so I do not have to look up any longer. I will look down and try not to think about the weight of your palms on my knuckles, try not to think that this is somehow a symbolic gesture depicting entrapment and suppression. I will look at our hands and see them as just that. Our hands. Together. I will be distinctly aware of your gaze on me, and will feel you waiting, waiting for me to shake off these notions of mine. Because they are mine, and you will know that because I will have already told you, in a conversation in another time, of my penchant to see things as more than they really are.
You will wait and watch as I struggle with ideas of my own making in my mind, and you will keep your hands exactly where you placed them. You will stay, because you know I will look up again. You will wait while your coffee gets cold, while the cashier changes her mind about tangerine on her nails and tries on violet instead, while the pensioner finishes off his ninth refill and pulls on his jacket in slow, practices motions.
I will look up and just as I do, you will smile. Unlike mine, it will not be a rapid one. It will take its time to develop into fruition, to complete an entire semi-circle across your face. This time, it will be my turn to wait. This time, I will not look away. This time, it will be worth it. You will smile and it will be whole and complete, as all-encompassing as the depth of your smooth hands, the same ones that hold the rough mountain-ridges of mine. You will smile as if to say, ‘Finally.’
Still smiling, you will lift your hands from mine and push your chair back. Still smiling, you will get up and saunter out the same way you came in.
I will wiggle my fingers – light, weightless and free – and I will go back to the words.
P.S This bit of writing was inspired by this video.
SYNOPSIS: Marina Abromovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.
At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened. – Source