La Giocatrice

Credo che giocare sia un’assuefazione per cui non puó essera una cura. Forse la terapia potrebbe aiutare il malcapitato a controllare la sua tendenza a giocare, ma non gliela toglierabbe.  Molti anni fa, ho letto un testo psicologico che proponeva che il giocatore sta sempre aspettando il momento giusto, il momento perfetto da vincere. Mi era interassante quest’ idea e lei mi rimaneva. Ieri alcune amiche e io parlavamo dei problemi di giocare. Da questa conversazione é spuntato un ritratto di una giocatorice, la madre di una di noi. Giocava spesso a Monte Carlo e appena ha mancato di rovinare il patrimonio della sua famiglia, mi assicura sua figlia.

Monte Carlo in settembre era delizioso. Faceva fresco di sera e caldo di pomeriggio. Benché lei preferisse svegliarsi presto, dormiva ogni giorno fino alle dieci. Poi la giornata si stendeva di fronte a lei. Godeva l’aroma del’caffe, i suoni dei gatti circostanti, il piacere del mangiare un cornetto. Sembrava la mattina senza fine. Peró la mattina non puó durare per sempre nel tempo vero.

La giocatrice era professionale. Era anche matematica. Capiva le cifre, le probibilitá, i numeri. Sapeva quando il tempo per vincera sarebbe arrivati. Sapeva il ritmo di perdere e di vincere, ma nonostante questa conoscenza, lei é stata costretta a soffrire il cambiemento della fortuna. Per lei il tempo continuava sempre nel presente in cui stava aspettando il monmento fatidico.

La notte giusta é arrivata. Le dieci, ha calcolato, sarabbero l’ ora in cui avebbre vinto. Ha indossato la sua camicia preferita, quella nera, e gli orecchini e la collana di aquamarina. Per questa scienziata sufficiente di sapere che la portafortuna non esiste, ma anche era abbastanza avveduta da accorgersi che se un vestito o un gioello particolarle la facessse sentire destinata a vincere, lei farebbe una figura da attirare la fortuna.

Alle dieci e un quarto si sedeva al tavolo di gioco. Adesso era il tempo migliore – quando stava anticipando che il momento giusto arrivasse. Non c’era niente da fare che rimanere lá, aspettando, non respirando.

The Right Time

 

Although she would have liked being up and about in the early morning, Marcella rarely awoke before ten. On this particular morning, however, she boarded the 7 a.m. train in La Spezia, Italy and was on her way to Monaco.

Monte Carlo in September is delicious. In the afternoon, the sun is still warm enough to allow for a swim in the Mediterranean. “Tomorrow,” thought Marcella as the train made its way high up over the Maritime Alps. She looked down at the sea glistening in the distance, and knew exactly what was meant by the color called aquamarine.

She awoke the next morning, happy to be out of the narrow and shadowy streets of La Spezia. She welcomed the sunshine and the upward lilt of French that she heard spoken here. The day stretched ahead of her. She had no decisions to make. Time was still in front. She did not have to select what she would wear, nor did she have to choose what to eat for breakfast. These decisions were fixed to the time she would spend in Monte Carlo.

By 11 am, Marcella was seated outdoors at the Café de la souris qui a faim, with her café au lait, tartine and croissant. She was generous with the butter and apricot jam. She even enjoyed a second coffee. Two pastries, two coffees made a good balance. Mornings in Monaco were like French mornings, each no different from the morning past, nor would be from the next. Time was suspended in the eternal pleasure of the senses — the smell of coffee, the salty sweet ooze of butter and jam into her mouth as she bit her crisp baguette, the beggarly sound of the meow uttered by the café cat Tristan as he clamored for his portion of the butter she would drop under the table, the sea breeze invisibly fluttering over her skin. Yet, even this endless morning must end in real time.

Marcella was a professional gambler. She was also a mathematician. She understood numbers, odds, and probability. She knew when the time would come for winning. She knew the cycles of wins and losses but was compelled to endure them because time was an endless repetition of waiting for the right time.  For her time was a continual present of waiting for the fated moment.

That night, sitting in the casino, Marcella calculated that 10 pm to be the time to win. She was wearing her favorite black dress and aquamarine earrings. She was enough of a scientist to know that there was no such thing as a “lucky dress”. She was also astute enough to know that if a particular garment made you feel lucky, you projected an aura of confidence that attracted good fortune.

At a quarter past ten, Marcella was seated at the Black Jack table. This was the best time – when the long awaited Right Time was on the verge of manifesting itself. All she had to do was sit holding her breath and wait.

 

At the Start of the New Year

Everyone said that the first year was the hardest. To Lucia this was a shallow platitude for people in a safe life. Why should only the first year be hard or harder than any other year? Why wouldn’t every year from now on be just as hard? What made people so superficial?

This year Lucia would not go out. She would not join the compulsive celebration and pretend to be …what? Certainly not happy. She refused to put on a show of being festive. She had had it with the brave face to the world. She wanted to mourn and did not want her grief to end. Her grief held Jonathan to her. To let go of the sadness of losing him would be to lose all their past.

At ten o’clock she sat in the big wing-back chair in the living room and cried. She cried with abandon for the first time since Jonathan’s death. Then a sort of euphoria crept over her and she felt calm. She had no tears left in her, so she sat looking around the room. She lit a candle and said a kind of prayer, something she hadn’t done for years. She had found a vanilla scented Christmas candle, wide round and virgin. White. Unmarked. Like her future. As she lit it, she knew that both she and the candle would be consumed. A return to purity and wholeness would be henceforth impossible. Lucia prayed that Jonathan was happy, forever seated at his easel turning out beautiful works of art, undisturbed by everyday life. She pictured him there, no longer needing or wanting her. She prayed that she would not only survive, but also thrive and prosper.

Midnight. The New Year arrived with bangs and horns blowing. At five minutes after midnight the doorbell rang. It was her neighbor Anna with a pot of lentils. Anna was Italian also. Lucia’s childhood memories rose up: “Lentils for good fortune in the New Year.” Anna came in and placed the pot of lentils on the dining room table.