A Game in a Rented House

I gathered with a group of friends recently for a long weekend of eating and drinking and talking and playing a game around which we had all met when we were boys. Our adulthoods have taken us to different corners of the country, and our arrivals are staggered. Those first hours are filled with reacquaintance. Each freind you meet again is different because you are resuming your relationship where it left off, and yet each friend you meet is similar because there is something about meeting a friend that is always like meeting yourself as well. That first night time is irrelevant. It is Thursday, and Monday morning is too distant to concern your imagination. Still, it is possible to let yourself dwell on it. It will come, after all. You arrived here knowing it would come. This weekend is like a cocoon within the rest of your life, and you can feel that life pulsing at the edges of the house you’ve rented. That other life is fine, but you’re here now, and dwelling on ending would only spoil the pleasure of beginning.

And then there is the game. The game means nothing unless you let it mean something. The worst thing you can do is think about the game. If you think about the game, you believe it is absurd that you are even playing it. It’s just a game. The best thing to do is enjoy it. Some enjoy the story of it, some the strategy, others the jokes, others the camaraderie. There are many ways to enjoy the game, but you must enjoy it only as you enjoy it. That is why you play it.

The ending begins before Monday morning. Cleaning the house Sunday night feels like a half-goodbye. You talk about who will be catching which flights and to where. When the morning comes, everyone leaves at different times. Saying goodbye you cannot believe it is already over, and yet you are ready for something else. The last hour before you leave is the hardest. There is always a moment of surprising and profound despair. For a moment, the weekend feels like a waste. It came and went and nothing seems to have changed. But to stay would be feel worse than leaving, and so you are out the door, and the rented house and the game are just a story now as you return again to your family.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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