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Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Solitary Pursuit

My mother played Solitaire often. It was a reflection of her in ways I rarely stopped to consider. In the most obvious way, it was a game she could play alone. She was comfortable with alone. I can never remember her expressing that she was lonely; she was simply a solitary figure. I could see what else she liked about the game. It had simple rules that were easy to learn, easy to follow. The four neat piles of cards that were culled from the whole were orderly and followed a predictable pattern. All of these factors made the game of Solitaire a good choice for my mother. She taught me to play Solitaire early in elementary school. It was a time-filler; often, while she was at work, I was home sick. Those games of Solitaire helped pass the long day’s alone. What I liked was that, when my mother had time, she was willing to play Double Solitaire with me. On a few occasions, we would throw in a third deck of cards, recruit a friend, and play a rousing hand of Triple Solitaire. I had no compunctions about keeping the game to one deck, one player. Recently, I have noticed Solitaire is a game on the computer. I have seen my husband play it. I have seen a customer service representative, her back to me, playing it. I have seen Youtube videos on how to play it. However, for me, part of the pleasure of playing Solitaire is the cards themselves. I like the tactile pleasure of holding the deck. I like clearing a space in front of me. I like counting, one, two, three, flip and exposing my next card. I like moving the cards, not dragging and dropping, but MOVING the cards to a suitable column or a welcoming pile. While I am not nearly as solitary a figure as my mother was, Solitaire continues to be a past-time that I enjoy for many of the same reasons, with the exception of one. I have a bonus she never had. Sometimes, cards in hand, I feel like I am channeling my mother’s spirit when I pick up a hand and start to play. There is nothing solitary about that.

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