My unemployed life is different this time around. The past 2 times in the past 8 years, when I was out of work, I had stayed up all night playing video games on my Xbox. This time, I’m reading, futzing around on the Internet, and playing “pokey games” on my phone. Days are spent, as usual, looking for jobs, running errands and cleaning clutter in my house.
I’m much more lonely this time around. Without my virtual friends, I’m missing a big chunk of socializing. My friends that are here in my real life all seem to be working crazy schedules right now. My best friend is a hairdresser, and I could usually hang with her on her days off, but right now she is working every day. I see my family a lot, as is typical. When I go outside, I see the neighbors. When I do my errands I see a bunch of people I wish I hadn’t, because strangers usually manage to annoy me. This is vastly different from the other 2 times I was out of work in the past. Lately, when John gets home at the end of the day I’m ready to jump on his back like a howler monkey and ride around the house while he gets himself settled. On a good day, when I’ve had some interaction with other humans, I’m more like a loyal pup, trying to get him to play with a toy the second he walks through the door.
I miss my online friends so much. A group of us would play a multi-player game (Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, the occasional other game) together while speaking extensively about our life and times on our headsets. We are all around the same age, had many in-jokes with each other, with compatible attitudes about gaming; extremely competitive toward strangers, want to have a great time with friends, hate “kids” and “noobs” that join public games, etcetera. We would talk and text on the phone during the day sometimes, and really wanted to get together at some equidistant spot in the country.
When I started working again 2 years ago, I had been playing every night for YEARS with the same core group of friends. Another of us had started a big job at about the same time and was finding himself overextended and not playing as much. I knew I would only be playing weekends, and then not even every weekend because my assignment then was so far away from my house that the commute was another job. I was so exhausted all the time. I would get home from the day and manage to put some dinner on the table and clean it up, and that was it until the weekend. Weekends were then so busy that I would go to bed around 10 pm and not play anyway. I thought once I left that assignment 8 months later, I would pick up where I left off. Sadly, that’s not case. A number of our lives have changed drastically in the interim.
But I miss it. I’m going to renew my Xbox membership, put the word out to my peeps and start playing L4D and some of my favorite single-player games until they can join me. I’ll even let them play as Zoey if they want, I’ll be so happy to have everything back to normal. For a little while. And then she’s “mine” again, to infinity.
Here she is. Best videogame character ever. Realistic, funny, relatable and badass!