I’m Alive! You’re Alive!

YOUR FLU SHOT IS WAITING, said the sign outside Bartells, when I drove home from work last Friday. Ha! Who needs a flu shot, I said, through a tickle in my throat. The next day, that tickle was a mild cold. I went hiking. The day after, it was a bad cold. I played Scrabble on the couch. The day after that, it was the full-blown flu, and I slept except when I was blowing my nose or rolling over or groaning. Nate made me tea and drew me a bath and put my pj pants on me like I was a toddler. He rubbed garlic and oil on my feet and put plastic bags and socks on over. The garlic made its mysterious way up through my feet and into my breath, loosening my lungs on its way — my dad’s most folksy cure.

The next day, things got better, and it was like the whole world was new. Tiny things became incredible. I ate a tangerine. Kazam! The perfect orange sweet flesh zing. The rain fell on my hands. It was cold and I didn’t scrunch away from it. Alive!

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Nate Abrupticates a Snapcaster: or, My Magic Relationship

Back before Nate, when I spent a lot of time with my journal articulating What I Wanted in a Relationship and making Man Lists with the hope that I’d end up with Something Awesome instead of drama and heartbreak or endless lonely doom, I distinctly remember saying I wanted a relationship with “a lot of magic in it.”

Well, I got that. Not only is Nate a guy who is deep and unafraid of mysteries and pretty much kicks ass at being a boyfriend, he’s also really into magic. Or I should say Magic, as in Magic: The Gathering, which if you don’t know, is an insanely strategic game with a cheesy fantasy guise. Nate plays online. A lot. You may have heard me struggle with this. Sometimes his relationship with me and Magic feels like polyamory, only without any risk of STI’s. To be fair, I’m writing a novel, which is its own kind of love affair. I just do more of it during working hours.

Anyhow, Nate plays lots of Magic, and watches lots of videos where people talk about “killing people infinitely with murderous redcap” and “trotting birthpod out there with three untapped manna.” These things make sense to him. When I eavesdrop, I can’t even tell when I’m mishearing the names of the cards: Celestial Purge, Kitchen Finks, Turmeric Zurich, Birds in Noble, Man a Leak — which of these are plausible? Nate knows.

Nate’s passion isn’t misplaced. He’s really good at the game. He just got invited to play in a prelim championship tournament because he was ranked in the top 150 players in his type of Magic. That’s the top 150 in the world. During the tournament, he kept coming inside with a dazed look, as if he’d just pulled a sword from a stone, having won again. He placed 34th (remember, that’s in the world), and was kind of disappointed. This is a man with some standards.

I’m bragging on him because he won’t do it himself. And also because I’m really glad he’s getting some outward recognition for his awesomeness. Because it may look like he’s just a guy in a shed with a computer and a hot sauce bottle — it might even feel like that to him — but there he is, in the top 150 in the world at something, and how many people can really say that? And beyond that, he’s a kind man, a smart man, a dedicated, persistent man, with a hot sauce bottle and a lot of inner, uncapitalized magic. The universe might like puns, but it sent me a good one.