Bear with me, if you will, please. This is going to appear disconnected at first, but I really do believe it will make sense by the end.
Years ago, when The Sims first emerged on the PC scene, my daughter played with it and liked it. She thought I would, too. On her recommendation, I went out and bought a copy. She was right. I created a little family of Sammy and Elena Magnet and eventually they had two children, Lucy and Jeffrey. They were good friends with the Goths and, in fact, at one point Sammy and Mortimer had a brief affair. We were redoing our kitchen at the time, and as you could probably guess, the Magnets had the poshest kitchen available at the time. That was a long time ago.
For the past few weeks, I've had this inexplicable urge to play with The Sims again. And I've felt kind of sheepish about it. Seems I should have had my fill of it back during the kitchen remodeling. And it's not a very mature activity for a sixtyish woman, now is it? Well, no matter -- I couldn't give in to this urge anyway. (1) I can't find the discs and (2) That was back on a very old operating system (Windows 97 even) and that original version of the game isn't very compatible with Vista.
No matter what we read in the papers or hear on TV news, the Economy is impacting more and more people all the time. Little businesses are closing on the avenue. Friends talk of acquaintances that have been downsized. Friends themselves have been downsized. Construction is down, and that is seriously affecting a certain small architecture practice I'm familiar with. Even at my school, as student families are hit by the economy and job loss, enrollment has been decreasing (remember, this is an independent school with a hefty tuition) to the point where we are now staffed for an enrollment that is many students greater than we actually have. Some administrative restructuring has occurred, resulting in job loss, and there could be more restructuring or downsizing of staff yet to come. It is difficult. It is stressful. My friend Polly tells me about a woman at her church who has lost her job; she is no longer young and her technology and other skills are minimal -- yet not eligible for Social Security now or even for unemployment compensation due to the nature of her place of employment. Polly and I both wonder what is going to happen to her.
My son and his wife, making the transition from a microscopic condo to a sweet townhouse, have been beset by all kinds of difficulties with appraisals, real estate personnel of questionable competence, unanticipated expenses (such as having to board the dog in the kennel on days when the condo was being shown and they were at work), and other complications. "Hi, Mom," his phone calls still begin. But the usual wryness of tone has been replaced by real adult concern and perhaps even anguish as he feels powerless in the face of unfamiliar turf and issues coupled with his growing responsibility as an expectant dad.
All at once this morning it hit me. Little wonder I've had an urge to play The Sims again. To have Sammy and Elena reconcile after his foolish fling. To befriend the Newbies. To refit the bath with a glorious new tub. To be picked up by the carpool promptly each morning and be returned each evening, earning a promotion by expanding the skill set and making additional friends.
To have a sense of some sort of control, some illusion of security, even just in a game. Because there certainly is none these days, in Reality.