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I stared at his hands
as he manipulated the cardboard piece around his coffee cup.

I stared at his hands
as he mutilated and tore it
playing with it as a monk plays with his prayer beads.

I stared at his hands as he told his story
so different from and yet not quite so different from
the story he told many moons ago

I stared at his hands
thinking back to the very first night, a cold October
that gave us wings of flight
his complaints were different then
his worries, his insecurities, his fears.

He played with sugar packets then
mutilating them on the table
his hands were younger then, his face was younger then
his heart was so much younger then.

I stared at his hands now
thinking on the amount of time that had passed between us
adding up our casual encounters
actual moments shared
how they would hardly fill any space at all
and yet the mental image
the residual footprint
lingers even now
as something that has spanned years and filled volumes
as something that could have been…
but probably not
and did not happen.

Back then
I would have manipulated myself in almost any way possible
to be placed higher on his radar
to have shown I was obtainable, that I was worth obtaining.

Along the lines of time
I waved my red flag and he laid down his white one of surrender
on his terms
I signed my X on the X
and that was just the way it was.

I stared at his hands thinking
in 10 years’ time
Would I still get to see those hands?
Would he fade away like an old folklore story?
Or would he remain a recurring character
someone who out of the blue
popped in
popped by
and in 10 years’ time
would I still want him to?

Looking at the changes between us
would we still recognize each other
with more age gathered up
over our souls and hearts?

I don’t know.

I can see him achieving his goals with those hands
I look at my own and wonder what does he see?
I look at my own and think, what can they achieve?
Who am I supposed to be?
I’ve let the ripples and riptides send me where they may
making the best of it or so I claimed
I didn’t really fight
It wasn’t a matter of sink or swim
I just went.

Others will claim I blazed my own path
I was difficult
and hell bent on accomplishing only what I wanted.
Is this what I wanted?
To be sitting across the table
still staring
at those hands?
As opposed to holding them in my own?

There is a comfort in watching
that piece of cardboard be destroyed
I was not meant for those hands
not in that way
not in the way the young girl I was wanted them to be
and seeing each of our hands here now
it’s okay
I know
at least slightly more so now
where I’m supposed to be.

In 10 years’ time,
we will be new people
20 years removed from the events
that entwined our paths
the stories our hands will tell then
as we’ve grown more clever, wiser
In 20 years’ time,
wizened and refined
can only become more themselves.

Love always, Maureen

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