i’m tired of not playing chess. i used to love playing chess; what happened? dammit.
before darius and jerry showed up for lunch last week, i listened to part of a chess lecture at the mechanics’ institute. it reminded me of coffee-soaked nights at the celestial realm, a wonderful smoky coffeehouse in birmingham where i first met craig, my chess teacher. he gave me a little blue scorebook and i would write our practice games’ moves in it to familiarize myself with chess notation. i would look forward to boardgamers nights, not just for scrabble and the companionship of new and old friends, but for that game, the one i never fancied myself smart enough to play, the one i was before long playing without a board, in my head in the shower in that apartment in the thick of summer when everything was damp and soluble and plump with magnolias and locusts. those black and white pieces so crisp and clean giving sense when the rest of me had fallen away into despair and confusion; discrete moves in infinite combinations fencing in my self, rules as rigid and as flexible as grammar, making the reality cupped in my palms less tenuous, giving me plastic faces to hold onto, to hide behind.
i would play now for different reasons, for the joy of competing with myself, and for the flushed face of making a good move. always, in the sheer doing of it, a nod to why it came to mean so much.