Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Farming Isn't a Game

My mother-in-law got me an Xbox game console one year from Christmas.  She heard from a birdie Jilly that I was eyeing one.  So, she scooped it up for me.  Very thoughtful, unnecessary, and (in my mind) embarrassing to receive outside of your teen years.

Placing embarrassment to the side, I dove in.  At the time, not unlike movies or books today, it provided me w/ some much needed release.  Depending upon the time period, we were either gearing up for Rory's arrival or trying not to lose our shit in her presence.  Mindless button pushing in effort to score an inconsequential touchdown in the swirling digital snow of Green Bay was just what the doctor ordered.  

After some time, surprising to no one including myself, my gaming days moved to the rear view.  

Fast forward to the iPad era.  

To this day, I rarely use the pad for much more than web search and minor banking activity.  

Jill, on the other hand, made the most of that sucker.  

And the beauty of it was that her use of it never impeded her ability to carry on a conversation - whether it be one-on-one or in a group setting.  She somehow juggled both w/ a grace she'd never have...well...juggling.

While she explored several app avenues, her default was gaming.  And she'd hit them in streaks.

For months at a time, Jilly'd pad up and dip into mahjong.  It was digital relaxation.  Really, all of her gaming activity served that purpose.  Not unlike my brief Xbox'ing period, Jill's games provided a release and just enough cover from the ever present cloud that loomed above.  

But, in my mind, one game above all others is the standout.  

Hay Day.

If unfamiliar (thankfully I still am to a great extent), from what I gather, Hay Day equips you with a fully functional farm that needs your unqualified expertise to maintain and grow.  Milk the cows.  Feed the chickens.  Plant the carrots.  Harvest the corn.  On and on and on...

...and freaking on...

During the Hay Day stretch, I'd often come home from work, and after exchanging sincere pleasantries, Jilly'd say something to the effect of, "Can you take over dinner prep?  I just need to feed these goats before I make my delivery to the farm down the road..."

She didn't say it in a this-isn't-real-and-I-know-it's-just-a-game kind of way.

Jill stated it in a this-needs-to-be-addressed-now-or-it-will-have-serious-repercussions-on-our-livelihood kind of way...

...which prompted me to respond, "You know none of this matters, right?"  

"I have to do it," she'd throw back to me.

I cannot tell you how many iterations of that same back-and-forth we had.

And it was all fun and innocent play...

...until Rory started farming on Mommy's farm.  

Naturally, b/c Jilly was so enthralled w/ her farm, Ro wanted in.  And Mommy let her.  

Of course, Mommy also tried to instill the same strategy she had been working on for months.

Here's a typical sequence...

Ro comes home from school, asks to use the iPad for a bit.  We give her 5-10 minutes before dinner.  During that time, she farms.  

Later in the evening, after we've put Ro to bed, Jilly and I cozy up on a couch and she proceeds to do some much needed late evening farming.  (A farmer's job is never complete.)  

"What is this kid doing?" she'd say to the screen...I think.

I stare at her but intentionally do not respond.

"I mean, is she just trying to reverse everything I've been working toward?"

Still nothing from me.

"Why would she buy two more horses when we obviously have to build another mill?"

I can't resist.  "You do know this is not reality, right?"

Wrong move.  Jill's eyes dart from the screen and thru my eyes.  It hurts.  It burns.

"I've worked on this for quite a while now.  I don't need her undoing what I've accomplished.  If she's going to farm w/ me, we need to work together.  She's working against me."  

I can't resist...again.  "Who gives a shit?"

(Sometimes...often times I like to push buttons.)

Jill just looks at me w/ an obviously-you-don't-get-it look on her face and proceeds to undo what Ro did in her five-minute massacre earlier that afternoon.

The next morning we're at breakfast in the kitchen.  Jill, invariably, brings up the farm.

"Rory, honey, when you're farming, can you please be sure not to..."  I fade out b/c I don't know what the hell she's talking about.  Nor do I care.  

What I do care about is what comes next.  These two are going to get into it.  

The two I'm-getting-the-last-word prize fighters go round and round trying to convince one another why their farming technique is best.  It can get heated.

I chime in again (in my head).  Who gives a shit?

So, on the one hand, I'd get frustrated w/ the fact they were letting pixels come between them.  

But, on the other, they're just passionate.  They're both so freaking passionate.  And I adore that.  

And I miss that.  

All love,

J, J, & r 

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