Cupid deals. I take a sip of my corona. He cracks a joke. And I laugh.
The cards on the table add up to 14.
“Hit or stand?” Cupid asks.
“Hit.” I mumble.
Cupid throws the card on the table – it’s a 8.
I feel the loss in the pits of my stomach.
Cupid reaches over and takes my chips.
I pick up a $100 chip and swirl it around my fingers. I’m contemplating the next move. I always lived by the motto: make your next move, the best move. I never turned my back on it. But today I might.
“Let’s play another.” I tell Cupid.
Cupid deals. I take a sip of my corona. I crack a joke. And he laughs.
The cards on the table add up to 17.
“Hit or stand?” Cupid asks.
Cupid tosses the card on the table – it’s a 2 of diamonds. There goes another $100. The regret sweeps into my brain and brings with it a bunch of bad thoughts that all start with “why?”
My brain tells me to get up and leave. My heart won’t listen.
My shoulders perk up and I push my head through my hands. Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. I’ve got to make one. I’ve got to face one. My time is ticking. And soon it will all be over…because that’s how life comes at you. One moment you’re young and naive. The next you wake up and you’re 40 years old. I know this to be true. And that’s why I cannot keep playing bad hands. I need to find the right one.
“Alright – one more!” I tell Cupid with uncertainty painted in between my teeth.
Cupid deals. I take a sip of my corona. Somebody cracks a joke. And we all laugh.
The cards on the table read 11.
“Hit or stand?” Cupid asks.
“Hit.” I respond.
Cupid slams the card on the table – it’s a 8.
I smile. And feel the love in the pits of my stomach.
Cupid pushes the chips over to my side, before leaning over and asking a question he already knows the answer to…
“You want to play another?”
“Nope.” I respond.
He nods in approval.
I place the chips in my shirts pocket, finish my corona, and leave the poker table. I’m heading for the exits. There’s nothing left for me here. For I’ve found what I’ve been looking for this entire time.
I’ve found victory in the one.
I lived 20 years with my hands out and my eyes closed. I walked through the dark, hoping my extended hands would make contact with something. It was the last piece to the puzzle of life. But I didn’t find it. What’s worst is I thought I would never find it. And my puzzle would remain unfinished with a glaring hole right in the middle.
So I tried covering the hole with money and nice toys. It didn’t work.
It was getting harder and harder to believe. It was getting harder and harder to live in the darkness with my hands out and my eyes closed. I almost put my hands back in my pockets for good.
If I had – I wouldn’t have been the only one. In fact, it’s something a lot of us do. We get fed stories of how it’s supposed to be. And we’re so naive, we believe. We move through the darkness with our eyes closed and our hands out. And sometimes we make contact with someone. Sometimes we don’t. But it always leaves as soon as it comes. There’s nothing stable or long term about it. People come. And people go. They’re just a small wave in the overall ocean that is our life.
But sometimes…just sometimes…
And it’s more than just a person strapping their boat next to yours for just a year or two. It’s something far realer.
Instead of two boats, you both get on one and you paddle towards the shore – with one common goal. And that’s to give your all to one another and create a life built on love that surpasses the greatest Hollywood story ever told.
It’s something deeper. And you know it.
Yet you cannot put your finger on it. Nor can you explain it. People may question you, but there’s no answer for it. It’s just a feeling – a feeling like no other. And I felt it.
I actually fucking felt it.
I felt it in you…
The girl with the vibrant eyes.
And today – I’m going to tell you all about it.
The springs sun was slowly burning out and it would soon be replaced with bright summer days. It was that magical time of the year when the kids were out and the beaches were open. And I was living life like usual – hustling and busting and trying to turn a dollar and a dream into a life full of luxury. It was going well. But I was itching for more.
And that’s when I met her – late spring of last year. She entered the doors of my life unexpectedly. It happened through pure luck. It was bizarre. And out of the ordinary.
I didn’t know what to make of it. In fact, I didn’t know what to make of her.
The first thing I remember seeing was her smile. I’ve never seen a smile like hers. For the entire world walks around with a smile troubled with the blood of misfortune. They colour their smile with all the misfortune they’ve gone through. Until it’s not even a real smile – just lips spread far a part with teeth showing.
She didn’t have a hint of misfortune in her smile. I saw pure aliveness. That’s what I liked about her from the jump. She intrigued me.
Then I shifted my gaze and saw her light brown eyes. There was something in those eyes I hadn’t seen before or since. I saw in those eyes glimpses of the girl she once was. I saw in those eyes the woman she set out to become. And in between the two – I saw in those eyes the lady she was today. The lady who put her family on her back. The lady who made it her mission to make her family proud. The lady who wouldn’t let any misfortune of her past get in between her and happiness. I admired her for it.
But that wasn’t all I saw. It’s not what drove me over the edge until she took over all the thoughts in my head.
What drove me over the edge was…
Her light brown eyes were coloured with the zest of life. It was similar to the look children wear in their eyes. The look of pure enthusiasm for live itself. It’s a look I had never seen in the eyes of any adult. She was one of the rare ones who didn’t let the big bad world rob her of the zest for life. She slipped through the cracks. Somehow. She slipped through the cracks.
I couldn’t believe it.
It wasn’t supposed to happen. She was supposed to end up like every other person I knew. A person who started with huge dreams. But settled and conformed to reality. Except she didn’t. Instead, she battled the storm and the troubles of her past. She walked through the fire.
And she not only made it to the other side..
But she made it to the other side while keeping the zest for life alive. I never met a woman so strong.
You could throw the entire world on her back. And I’d bet she’d make it out without a scratch.
I knew this much to be true because at the time – I was the exact opposite. I was hustling and busting. But I was losing the zest for life by the day. It was depleting. And soon I would run out. And it would be over. I would become just another statistic. Just another man who set out to conquer the world but fell short…just another man who traded in a life of glory for a soul crushing 9-5 job filing tax returns at his Uncle’s accounting firm.
I couldn’t let that be my fate. Because she made me believe. Her spirit was infectious.
We hung out at the park and strolled through the college halls.
The more I got to know her – the more intrigued I became.
Soon the thought of her was the only thought on my brain. We started spending more time together. But it was never enough. The chemistry between us was so natural and divine. I’d crack jokes – thinking I had gone too far. Thinking I had crossed the line. She responded with even dumber jokes.
Our morals and values intersected at the same point. It was perfect. She was the female version of me.
It was exactly what I was seeking.
And slowly but surely the hole in my puzzle began shrinking. And it was during this moment I began falling…and I knew either my body was going to hit the pavement and break into a million pieces, or she was going to catch me. I didn’t know which way the tide would swing. But I knew I had to risk it.
Life’s just a dice game, after all. And I choose to live it by betting on all sixes.
I tossed the dice. Hoping and wishing she felt the same way.
The dice rolled and hit the pavement. My heart beat grew louder. And I confessed my love.
It caught her off guard. I don’t think she was expecting it.
But a few weeks later…
The dice showed all sixes.
And she confessed her love too.