For so many reasons, not meant to be.
The Carpenters’ song “Solitaire” hits me this morning as I write in my favorite café in town. For the second time this week, a fortysomething woman appears, ordering a muffin and coffee and then sitting at a four-top by herself. She wears a summer dress, fashionable earrings and necklace. For a moment, I wonder who she’s meeting. Obviously, the person is late. But then she takes out a deck of cards and begins Round 1 of solitaire. It’s both brazen and sad. The rest of the coffee soloists are like me, busily surfing or writing on laptops. I’ve seen newspaper readers and tourists studying maps. It is true, I have also seen people contentedly working through crossword puzzles and Sudoku, equally individualized tasks, but in my experience, a solo game of cards is reserved for home or airport delays.
She doesn’t cower as I pass her, midgame. There is a settled aura, if not a confident one. My first reaction each time is shock, but pity is unwarranted. In a sense, I admire her. I’m going out for breakfast and I will not get crumbs in the car. I am alone and that’s okay. Now shuffle. I could learn from her, but do I really want to?
She continues to sit and play. No one else will join her. I tune out this scene and let Karen sing me another song, one with a reserved sense of hope: “For All We Know”.
I do have a deck of cards at home. Somewhere. I don’t want to find it. Not now, at least. Not ready for that game.