Monday, September 7, 2009 @ 20:56:03
I love to play poker. I mean, it is a visceral joy.
It ties me to my father and to my roots in a way that few other things do. Thankfully, it's also something at which I'm pretty well skilled. I might not be able to take down Johnny Chan, or even my Uncle Frank for that matter, but I can hold my own in a friendly game.
So, it is the game of poker to which I return when I flail about for a metaphor for recent events.
For those of you who have known me for a long while, you probably already know. After fourteen and a half years, Doug recently proposed marriage, and I happily accepted. I cannot properly express how happy I am or how excited I am about taking our next steps in to the great unknown. Thrilled to pieces. Beyond words.
For those of you know have known me for a while, you are also well aware of my certainty and steadfastness in this regard. Some things in this life are just certain. For those of us blessed (or cursed) with a decisive nature, we know such things quickly. My father once told me that he and I were alike in one particular way - that we both knew exactly what we wanted in love, that we both fall hard, and that we do so in an almost violent fashion. This has proven to be true, and I am proud to say it. I have written songs to this effect, and I will gladly shout it from the rooftops to anyone who will listen.
Why then, after fourteen and a half years of certainty and focus and direction, am I suddenly nervous? Why do I get butterflies and feel like I did when we first started dating? I am not doubtful about our future in any way, and I know without a doubt that Doug is the person with whom I want to spend all of my years. I want to grow old with him and make him as happy as he makes me.
So why do I feel like a school girl when we talk about the ceremony and the exact moment when we will make our vows in front of our closest friends and family? Why did I get nervous when we stood in the spot where we will be married, holding hands and transporting ourselves forward to that moment? What is this ridiculous feeling of tentativeness and vulnerability?
For those of you who don't play no-limit Texas Hold 'Em, you're missing out. In this game, you have the ability, at any time, to push in all of your chips and make a play for everything. The whole enchilada. Whether you are bluffing like crazy or holding the hand to end all hands, going "all in" is the pinnacle, the critical moment of a game that rewards smart risk-taking and playing your opponent instead of just the cards. It is rife with psychology and sales and being a grade-A con artist.
I love to go all-in. It's a feeling like no other - you are, at the same time, exposed and in control. You are vulnerable to the other hands and players at the table, but you are also in control. If you are in the lead, you can intimidate others with your chip stack. You can steal blinds and control the game.
You are, however, a target. You have a bull's eye on your back, and everyone is gunning for you.. It's precarious, but it's exciting, and you are setting the pace.
Then someone calls, "All in." The Degree All-In Moment. You sweat, whether or not you hold the cards. In poker, you never know. The guy across the table might have a royal flush, but the odds are that he is chasing a flush. A fatal blow or easy prey? Which is it? Are you vulnerable? Do you call? How confident are you in your position?
Doug just went all-in.
Without warning, without a tell (that I could see) he went all-in. I've been confident in my feelings for so long. I've been setting the pace of the game, at least in my mind. He just brought that to a screeching halt. He just called all-in. Do I have the cards? Do I have the chips to cover this?
The vulnerable part of me squirms.
I said yes. I meant it. I can't wait for our wedding day. I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is the right thing to do.
I called his all-in.
There's no loser in this scenario. In this friendly game, we both walk away from the table together as winners, hand-in-hand. Still, there's something fun and unnerving about having the tables being turned.
Finally, a worthy opponent.