Some things don't ever change. Friends come and go, circumstances change, new developments happen all the time. Some parts of life are no fun at all, and some parts are overloaded with fun. But all this happens around objects which appear static and unmovable.
I never see the lack
of change coming. I always promise myself that things are going to be different very soon. This drives me, as it drove me to buy the Wii a year or two earlier than was convenient. So one day when we were all driving together for some reason or another, I proposed my idea to my family. For my birthday, I didn't want food or even to leave the house. What I wanted was, for a whole day on 21 February, to sit at home and play multiplayer games.
I imagined Miriam playing Wii Tennis
. I imagined Dena playing the simple minigames in Wii Play
. I really
wanted the chance to force my mother to play a level of Super Mario Galaxy
. I imagined all four of us sitting around playing Pac-Man Vs.
. And I imagined that just maybe
, if I used my birthday in this manner, they might realize Nintendo games are fun and start playing one for themselves.*
Everyone in the car agreed to this plan. Miriam and Dena teased that they'd take the opportunity to get off from school. And I started thinking that maybe those unmovable objects in my way weren't quite
so unmovable. And very soon, I'd get to the other side.
In the days preceding the event, I went to all my friends who might possibly come. That way, at any point I couldn't get my family to play, I'd still have something to do. (If worst came to worst and no one showed up, I planned to go back to Tallon IV in my downtime. That's always worth a visit.) So I told Moshe to come. And I told Harel to come. I told Tamir and Eli to come. I told Michael to come. I told Avri to come. I told them to come whenever it was convenient.
deserves special mention, because I haven't mentioned him before and his games night
has been a big deal for me. Avri was playing great videogames back in the 80's, and not so long ago he and his wife Lorien moved next door. Nowadays he's a big fan of German-style strategy games, so every Tuesday at 7:45 a bunch of people (myself included) go to his house to play strategy games until around midnight or so. When I first started going it showed me a whole world of games I hadn't even heard of, and I was pretty overwhelmed. The other players took a lot of time on each turn, planning and anticipating and analyzing. So it took me months to win any games at all. Once I did, I started feeling like I had a place there. From then on, I've been vocal about what I'd like to play each week: Sticheln
. It's a card game. Though I never do well at it, I enjoy the gameplay. I suggested Sticheln so often that it became a running gag: Avri would ask "What should we play?", I'd yell "Sticheln!", and everyone else would groan in unison "No, Mory.". But I digress.
I came back late after the games night of the 20th
, happy for winning one game and coming close in another. And on the walls were the best birthday signs I'd ever seen. There were drawings of rain drops taped to the back door, with a thoughtful-looking rain cloud face nearby. It made me smile.
That night, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. The closer I got to the moment of change, the less I was able to imagine what it might be like. And all that was left was uneasiness.
I started the day off with a bit of bowling with my mother. I saw this as warm-up, she saw it as fulfilling her obligation. Then she went to work, which is what she'd much rather do than play games. Miriam and Dena were at school.
Harel was the first to show up. I'd been eager to show him the Wii. I played a lot
of games with him. Then we started a game of Metroid Prime 3
, so that he could see how first-person shooters play on the system. Then Eli came, and Harel left, and Eli played for a while. Then Michael came. And Mickey, even though he doesn't live here anymore! And Tamir showed up bringing some good snacks. And Avri came with a gift: a Sticheln
deck! Toward the end of the day, we had four-player games of Pac-Man Vs.
going, with myself and Tamir and Tamir's friend Esther and Avri. And even Lorien showed up, because she wanted to see what the tennis was like. It was nonstop fun.
And when we went down for cake, I saw an opening given that so many people were down there at once. So I played my latest piano piece, and they listened. And Avri said it sounded like it would work nicely in a videogame, because it was epic and emotional.
And then we went back to playing. During this time, I kept trying to get Miriam and Dena in for a game or two of Pac-Man Vs., but they kept dodging. They had better things to do than play games, apparently. My father, I found out only later, had wanted to join in, but while he was home the den was constantly packed!
Moshe showed up around 10:30 or so, after most of my friends had left. I played a few small games with him, then went down to eat. It was only at this very point that I felt hungry, even though I hadn't eaten since lunch, because in a choice between food and games there's no choice. And we talked about random things. And then it was very late and I didn't want to wake my parents, so we went outside and kept talking. And talking. And talking. Moshe's a lot like me, you know.
On a rational level, my lack of a connection with my family does not matter
. So what
if they don't play games? I have people I can play games with. So what
if I can't talk with my family? I've got people I can talk to.
And yet, it does
matter to me. These are the people I see all the time. Not having a connection there does
create a certain emptiness.
It is my hope that no matter how much fun I may have, that emptiness will (on some level) drive me.