He agreed he would teach me how to play Go under the condition that I continued to nourish my skills and interest in the game. He made me promise him. I giggled nervously, not knowing where I would encounter another Go board again, but imagining finding someone somewhere, within a close-enough radius, probably through the internet.
The black and white configurations of each ended game reminded me of Yin and Yang. I’ve always felt dazzled by their symmetry. As a child, I could never discern between two equally powerful entities, and took solace in the existence of this whole. To this day I find myself continually made inert by the impasse of binary. X decision kills the existence of Y decision.
He said there are many similarities between Go and organic chemistry. I didn’t really know what he meant– about bonds trying to be stable. I guessed there were some mathematical rules, evident in nature, which were far beyond my comprehension. Disorganized thoughts make it difficult for me to buy groceries, let alone practice math. At the very worst, I catch my mind going down erroneous trails of logic, always after public reveal, left humiliated by my absence. It takes a lot of discipline to stay on track. I’m trying.
It just takes practice.
Black hovers around white orbital of black base. He claims more than half the board and wins.
There are giant cactuses, stark in their verticality, lining the perimeter.
Protein powders, amino acids, textbooks, drums of caffeine, pill bottles speckled throughout.
I don’t really know what I’m doing here.
In this memory.
I don’t really know why I wouldn’t be here.
He was a good teacher. With a tender, poetic approach.
Maybe it is obnoxious to seek this kind of mentorship.
Maybe it is only obnoxious to be so ill-prepared.
I am trying to understand where to bridge oxygen electrons with sulfur’s because the numbers aren’t even and I think I’m missing something. I feel the answer must be obvious and attainable but I am making up alternative logic that I should really just Google the problem if I can articulate it.
It’s important to pursue taxing endeavors with confidence. Confidence in the possibility of whatever. I have no barometer for these types of things. Either I’m over-confidence and vicious or I’m completely doubtful and too meek to make any slight impression. There’s hardly balance. Always polarized. Falling into commitments with reckless abandon, landing on either one side or the other.
This dichotomy maybe isn’t real.
If I were to read and retain everything that I read and practiced practiced, would I still be mired in doubt?—maybe even more so. How can I assert anything true? How can I express or characterize objects with any literal meaning? All I have, all I will ever have, are questions.
He said, “Why would you do that? Why would you put that there?”
I stared at the board, an illusory black-and-white language, recalling all the fresh constraints and freedoms he’d endowed me with. It was all shrouded by a nonsensical brand of logic, too familiar, thick like glue.
“I don’t know,” I said, realizing my honesty.
He looked at the board with visible unease.
“I don’t want to play with you if you’re just going to put pieces down at random,” he said.
I rerouted my move, mentally, and saw a more appropriate placement. It’s not just a game, I thought. It’s rude to waste a teacher’s time by failing to comply with effort, palpable effort.
He picked up my piece and placed it in my hand, still concentrating on the board.
“I won’t count that one,” he said.
I felt the dense weight of the white stone in my hand, its texture smooth, like ice, and rapidly losing temperature, burning my skin and my meat. The brain ceased to show activity whatsoever, numbed by a mysterious variable. Everything stayed frozen.