Before I had children, I had almost zero responsibility for anyone but myself. Sure, I was (and am) in a fantastic relationship with Sheryl and I felt some responsibility towards her. I would always inform her if I was going to be in all day or if I was out, who I was going to be with, out of a sense of caring and courtesy, not some expected or required duty.
It was not uncommon in those childless times for me to spend a day or six playing video games. I am not a serious gamer. I don’t own or play a wide variety of games. I am pretty much content with Halo and a few sports games. My personal favorite is the NCAA College Football series. Relatively easy to play, the game has evolved over the course of a decade or so, keeping most of the core controls the same, but adding some very cool and realistic features. This is highlighted by my only buying a new game every five years or so. Graphics get better, player controls more dynamic. game characters more life like. Still, it only takes a few games, maybe six, before I feel comfortable with any change.
On Monday, I decided to branch out a bit and buy a NHL game.
I have just discovered a love of hockey and when I saw the game for a decent price, I decided to give it a go. Oh my, I am awful at it. I have to play on the easiest level in order to not find myself screaming and throwing things about the room. The worst part-It is really, really fun! I really dig how great it feels to score in overtime, hit someone just before they pass or start a brawl with the defenseman who has been cross checking my center all game.
Since leaving my job at the library, I have been trying to find my rhythm at home, a comfortable place where I feel I am doing all the things I should and want to be doing. I need time to clean the house, take care of the boys (they like to do stuff! Weird, right?), and also find time to keep myself from going insane. I need time to myself because I am extremely selfish. I want time to write, time to ride my bike, time for some friends. One of my ideas was to give myself one day a week where I have no set responsibilities. I can use this time to clean if I want, read or watch movies, nap or as I have done lately and as I did yesterday, play video games.
Having the new game made the course of the day inevitable.
I started playing just after noon and finally decided I needed to quit when Sheryl asked me to start dinner at just before 6. The first three hours, I didn’t even notice the time passing. I started to pay attention when my son, Destry pointed out I had been playing for quite a long while. Being me, that just made me grumpy with him. You don’t get to tell me what to do, son.
When I started dinner (grilling burgers in the 100 degree heat. Clever me), I felt really off center. In point of fact, I was downright pissy. At first I thought it was a left over feeling from something the boys had done, or that a particularly persistent hornet kept buzzing my head like it was a traffic control tower and I was in a insect remake of TopGun. As I sat there, burning from the sun, burning from the heat of the grill, stewing in my anger, I could not deny what was going on. The video gaming had left me angry. I was angry I had played all day and angry I had to stop. I wanted everyone and everything to leave me alone and let me be contradictory and confusing. I wanted to forget any and all of my responsibility, forget my family, forget everything. I don’t want to compare it to substance withdrawal, but I felt a sickening need to play more and an equally disgusting feeling at the thought of wanting more of it.
This isn’t the first time I have felt like this after gaming, but it was the first time it had been this potent.
Lucky for me I have good people around me. I didn’t tell them anything about what I was feeling, but just being around them made me feel a bit better. I did end up playing two more games in the evening, stopping myself to water the garden, gaining some sense of control over things. Little lies sometimes make us feel better.
I am sure I have learned nothing and that\sometime soon, maybe next week, I will find myself back in front of the television, gaming console humming away, my eyes growing weak and sore from staring at a static image for hours on end. As for today, I am out and about, sitting among people at a coffee shop as I type this. My head feels clear and I am in a pretty good mood despite the muggy heat and this extremely uncomfortable chair. I am writing, I am listening to Nirvana play “Sifting”. It feels good. Wish you were here.