This is the game that is a game of games, and each game has its rules and each game has its rhymes. In the beginning the games are most important, because they are light and lightly broken. The better games are after, but both of us have to win a few each to play again.
The first games are played like this:
This is how you smile when I say what I believe in. This is how I smile when you say something smart.
This is how I laugh when you tell the least dirty version of the least dirty story in your biography. This is how you laugh when I balance my least dirty joke with my most classy compliment.
This is how I say good morning this morning. This is how you say goodnight this night.
This is the game I only play when you’re around, this is the game you only play in my periphery, this is the game of ‘do-you-remember-when,’ this is the game of ‘this-is-the-music-I-like.’ This is the game of this frightens me. This is the game of how are you going to hold my hand.
We went to the mountain north of LA and played a game with the shadows, rolling the hot, stolen afternoon around our shoulders as we juggled where we were supposed to be and who we were supposed to be there with. And it was hot and the air was heavy so we weaved the crowd between us and the observatory tower and took turns shuffling in the shade, dancing that frail romance between the thought of what could be and the inexorable suspense of what we were both hoping to win that night.
And on the ceiling of the planetarium the stars soared and we were as big as they and the air was light and cool. This is how I held your hand and this did not frighten me at all. This is how you held my hand on the way down the mountain, and this is where we held our breath as we drove through the tunnel.
This is the game of make a wish. You wished driving up. I wished driving down.
And that night we played the game of the adventure’s end, the explosion of sound and a long day’s exhalation, the exhilaration of saying you win to each other in riotous prose that bounced off the walls and made games of the echoes that returned like paper turned to origami, like children practicing mad magic tricks and suns raining liquid light.
But that wasn’t what I wished for.
I wished for tomorrow. I wished for riotous speeches and magic chapters in a book of liquid light that we folded together from the origami of our lives. I wished for adventure again, your hand in the tunnel again, a thousand stars turning, shadows jumping hopscotch with the light of afternoons on other mountains in other cities, and the songs that you liked on the radio that we shared on the journey there.
This is the game that is a game of games. And the better games are after, but not all of those games we play together. I played one game alone I was destined to lose, because tomorrow is always gamble.
So we had more todays, unquestionably and undoubtedly triumphant todays. We won when we played together and the sun rolled us through the night, and the nights rolled us through the mornings and every one of those mornings rolled over afternoons.
And you were my Thursday nights, my Friday mornings. You were my Friday’s midnight and my lost Saturday hours. You were the face of the week made merry, without promises and here today – today only – today again, morning again, good night again, hold my hand again, hold me again and make music again, drive again while the stars run rings around Los Angeles.
We played like insane children in the solace of each other’s dreams, like oral chess on a colorblind checkerboard, like poker atop a highspeed chase. We played the games we were born to play, game partners in the fortunes of each other.
And this is the game of goodbye, today. And this is the game of hello, tomorrow.
This is the game that is a game of games.
And I lost you.
But oh what a marvelous game.