I've taken to drinking in the evenings to help me forget the empty space in bed besides me. I often wake in the night and grope my way to the bathroom for a piss. And in the hours of fitful sleep that follow I dream I'm playing the perfect poker session, my stack growing ever higher. But today I slept to dreams which woke me almost crying.
Last night I'd called round Henrik's house. He is short and chubby and pale-skinned and takes no care over his appearance. I ask him if he is pursuing a particular woman at the moment. He tells me he falls in love every day as he walks down the street. But, having discovered his hairline is starting to recede, he's decided it would be unreasonable of him to expect to ever be in a relationship. He's resigned to simply being a voyeur; which, in summer in Sweden, does have its short-term rewards.
He's pathetic, but not unhappy, whereas I have the misery of a thwarted romantic. Look at me in the school yearbook and you'll see I'm better looking than many, and no worse than others. I'm tall, slim, and a little muscular and I have good hair and cheekbones.
I was seeing a girl when I was winning last year. She'd sit at my side while I was multi-tabling, until one night she held my hand and wouldn't let go when I was intentionally timing down before a $100k check-raise on the river. I shouted at her, and she stomped off in tears.
When I next saw her we had a few drinks at Harry's Bar, and I tried to explain my fierce pounding need to keep playing. And she said "Please stop, for my sake", and put her her hand on my cheek. And I saw she was afraid.
I told her "No! Please leave me!" She was quiet and shy and essentially decent, if dull, but I said such terrible things to her. All she wanted was to settle down. How could she lack such ambition? Why couldn't she understand what I was trying to achieve? Why should my money matter to her when it doesn't to me?
She said "I have to go" and her hand slipped from mine. Perhaps she'd realized her mother was right all along. A gambler is a worse prospect than a street sweeper. At least the sweeper's income is secure.
I think I want a girl who really wouldn't care if I won or lost. Cocky and confident, she'd just tell me I was an idiot because she was more interesting than any game. And I'd soon believe it.
And when I was playing poker, she'd know when to leave the room, and when to come back. She'd understand I could lose money without losing myself. And when I lost $2 million in a day, she'd just hold me. And when she held me I'd feel... better. I would. I'd feel better.
And when I won, she'd tell me "Let's get away from all this", and she'd suggest places we could go, things we could do which didn't involve settling down, but quite the opposite - which felt like freedom. And for her I'd switch off the computer and never come back.
I think I'm afraid of finding her.