The Deck of Cards (working)
It began with intention.
One of my fondest memories from my childhood was playing cards with my father. I’ll get to it later, but I never had the patience for television so once in a while dad would play cribbage or war with me. The attention my father gave me, which seems insignificant to an objective mind, was one of the initial fractures to my still delicate mind. To avoid an unintriguing attempt at foreshadowing; I broke.
My young and malleable mind became conditioned to associate card games with care and sparked a very permanent infatuation with games, and more predominantly, with the cards themselves. My father won every time we played. I was a very logical and practical child, most likely due to the genetics of a mother with a bachelors in mechanical engineering and an MBA and a father who owned a sizable contracting corporation, and knew the probability of his undefeated streak was near impossible. Back then my ability to trust hadn’t been broken, so the idea that he had cheated had crossed my mind, but I allowed trust in my father to override logic. That asshole definitely rigged the deck. His, still questionable, ability to win every game created an everlasting fascination with the idea of luck, and even as an adult, I encounter superstition and the fear of bad luck on a daily basis. The logic and practicality I received from my parents plays a very significant role in my subconscious, but luck and superstition always overcome those instincts in an unpredictable and nonsensical fashion which, usually, reminds me of the beauty in madness when I get lost in the labyrinth of logic.
I also credit the cards for my love of the unknown and subsequent incessant curiosity. I hated never knowing which card was next and especially that there was no way to know. I eventually recognized the slight adrenalin rush I received after relinquishing my frustration and accepting that some aspects of life will never be known, watching the unknown card turn and the excitement of having it be in your favor. Especially since intelligence provided no benefit. I was always attentive to the cards played, but factoring them into the game never gave any advantage, only the disadvantage of over thinking. I learned to celebrate having luck on my side while still factoring in my inability to change the deck. If the odds weren't in my favor I accepted that knowledge has limitations, but developed and insatiable curiosity when there was the potential to know.
I attribute the cards to one of, if not the most important aspects of who I am. A deck of cards has infinite potential for creation and is always changing. I was captivated by those 52 uniformly sized, printed, and shipped cards which make a deck, identical to any other deck, yet always different. Every time the deck is shuffled, or even if one card is moved, it becomes a new deck with new luck and changes the outcome of the situation. A deck of cards is more to me than it’s material composition; it’s alive. I found hope in those cards and depended on their ability to never mimic the past and always create a future uninfluenced by yesterday. The cards never change, but the ability to change the game without changing what you are given provided me with and obscure faith in the future.
I began to view my parents as cards. My dad was the ace of spades and my mom was the queen of hearts. Maybe if they belonged to a different deck they would make it right, but they were in mine. The deck I was handed contained an ace of spades who will always love me, but never know how, and a queen of hearts who will never be capable of being a mother. Neither card will change or accept the obvious printing, which is clear to objective minds but manipulated past that point of recognition to those who are cards in this story of a life.
My card was created in the absence of true desire for a child. My mother was loosing my father and her solution was to contain him for the next 18 years by creating me. I was a failure as a solution to her problem, yet for some reason I find a distant relative of happiness in knowing I was intentional. Whether they wanted me or not, they still wanted to have me. The queen loved me more before that day in February, leap day, when her solution’s lungs accepted air and became physically independent from her, but she became a mother, a role she never wanted, and her solution became dependent on her in ways she had no desire to fulfill.
My parents got divorced less than a year after I was born. I still blame myself for failing as a solution to their problem. They wanted me to fix it, but I only expedited it to break. But it never broke. A few emotional fibers held together the disaster, exhausted from the tension of these thin emotions holding all of the weight of reality to satisfy consciously ignorant eyes from the inevitable heartbreak. There are still a few fibers which keep it from breaking. One is my mother’s enticement with manipulation and another, of which could be entirely false due to my possibly manipulated and opinionated perception (objectivity is near impossible once you are a card in a deck) of my memory, is that my father will always love my mother. But she fucked up his ability to know how.
The fuel of denial, avoidance of an inevitable broken heart, alcohol, and intoxicated promiscuity, gave birth to the two jokers in my deck, unintentional, yet fantastic, life. A lack of intention (and judgment – alcohol will do that; worry not I will get to my alcohol induced lapses of judgment) brought my two younger, beautiful, bastard brothers into my life. They came with court dates, paternity tests, name changes, child support checks, complimentary light shows from the police department (I was used to this) and a disheartening show of fight, which even at that age, I knew had nothing to do with us, just those unbreakable, now very expensive, strands holding the disaster together.
But I wasn’t alone anymore.
I found peace in the distraction of protecting my precious accidents from the horrors which live in this book and my memory. I read to my baby brothers and turned the music up as they went to sleep to drown out the reality while the queen of hearts; who lost her own, held a knife to the tender skin protecting the throat of the ace of spades. My jokers were not a solution to any problem, because the problem was our deck, but in the surprise of the new, unexpected cards I had a purpose. I had hope. My inherited intelligence provided me with agility in mathematics, but confined me to limitations. I knew a deck as having 52 cards and never thought to think past that. The inability to let go, the manipulation of my mother, and the undeniable truth of my father’s addiction without preference saved my life by adding two incredible unintentional cards to our deck. A joker is meaningless unless it takes on the value of another card. I hold my jokers with an unconditional love which has no bounds and will never be understood. Every card in this deck holds meaning and knowledge woven into the memories that compose the card and make my imperfect deck I would never change.
This is the story of a deck with 54 cards, the illusive problem free from form, and a solution I didn’t believe in, but chose to find. The simplicity of it all was enlightening to find and there was honest beauty behind realizing I always had it. My deck of cards, the problem I was born with, and the clarity of my solution live in these pages, just remember the deck is ever changing; don’t get lost in the cards.