We play the hand we’re dealt.

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I’m 18 and you are 19. We are in our sparsely furnished apartment and we have run out of money for the week. I’m enormous with a child who doesn’t appear to sleep in the womb and has taken a liking to my ribs. You are wiry and fidgety with wild hair and the wild eyes of someone trying to figure out how to be still with someone you love when you don’t know how to be still at all. We are a sight to behold.

I don’t even know where the first set of cards came from. Do you? I should. I remember all dates and times and the first things we said to each other, but I don’t remember where those Uno cards came from. All I know is that we were bored and broke and they were there. And we played for hours.

In all our moves and all our ups and downs…everything we’ve lost; literally, figuratively. Somehow those cards stayed put. When things seemed like they should be better, when we had far more than we started with and life was humming along…sometimes it wasn’t better. Sometimes I missed the simplicity that we had no choice but to live in. So I’d pull out the cards. I don’t know when the cards themselves became so important, just like I don’t remember where they came from in the first place. But we both knew. And when either of us needed to touch base, out they came. And we’d play for hours.

Then they were lost. We were moving far more than ever before- you had things you needed to do; to get out of your system, we thought. We had no idea that they’d become a part of you that couldn’t be separated out; those things became the system. You’d leave and return to me and then sometimes you’d be home and and yet I’d still be waiting for you to return to me. The cards were lost. I couldn’t find them; they were gone. I couldn’t find you; you were lying beside me. Then on our 10th wedding anniversary, you brought new cards home. New cards, but the same. They were back, but since you were still gone, we didn’t play.

Things eased up again. The cards came out a few times, but life was full to the brim with three, all different combinations of you and I who whose needs and schedules had no concern for the care and keeping of the combination of you and I. We made time, but rarely enough time for the cards. Things were good, though. They were good.

Then we returned home. We guarded the cards through the move. They have a top drawer that is their permanent home, along with other precious things. You didn’t have to leave anymore, and yet again you were gone. I held your face in my hands and searched for you and I still couldn’t find you. I called for you. I cried for you. I prayed and pleaded. You’d come back for a while, sometimes half, sometimes whole. I’d try as hard as I could to anchor you here, but you’d still slip away.

You’re back now. There is more to you; more solid and less like an apparition. My hands can reach and touch and you really are there. More solid means heavier; it means things don’t go through as easily, and I know that can hurt. I’m both sorry and relieved. I sat in the kitchen last night and you brought the cards to the table. Best two out of three, you said. You still fidget, but you stay because you want to sit still with someone you love. We didn’t play for hours, because it was late and we were tired and life isn’t as simple anymore, but we played. To me, it was a sight to behold.

 

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