Getting back into Stardew Valley got me thinking about the ebb and flow of things.
I’ve been introspective all week as certain turns of events reminded me of different times in my life, like a weird deja vu where everything is the same except for me. I had difficult conversations, both as venter and ventee, that reminded me of days when I couldn’t get a single word about my feelings out. I saw my friend Amber three times this week, which reminded me of our college days when I got to see her every night. And I played a few too many hours of Stardew Valley, which reminded me of the end of last summer when this silly game was one of the few things keeping me together.
Understandably, I’ve been nostalgic. I miss so much from different stages of my life — friendships I thought would last longer and places I haven’t visited in too long, for the most part. Sometimes I miss smaller, odder things, like waiting in the car while my mom bought groceries on our way back from school. I miss abstract feelings — the anticipation of a plane ride back to college, the excitement of a wide open Friday afternoon in middle school, the comfort of a cozy winter morning in Gramado. Most of all I miss being carefree, the way I was at age 5 when I had no homework to do; the way I was at age 14 when I had no extracurriculars; the way I was at age 18 when I wasn’t employed; the way I’m sure I currently am and will look back at with a fond, sad remembrance in a decade or two.
I don’t mean to be grim. In other times, the nostalgia would be crushing me. Right now it isn’t. Somehow I have enough emotional strength to acknowledge it, feel it, appreciate it the best I can, and try to look forward to something new. I know it isn’t always like this. And silly as it is, I have a farm to look forward to.
It’s currently Fall in my Stardew Valley farm. The leaves are orange, pink, and burgundy, my new crops should be ready for harvest in a few days, and my little family is thriving. I’ve worked my way through most of the game’s achievements, but I won’t be fully satisfied until I finish them all. I’m closing in on the Gourmet Chef star, and Full Shipment should be within reach too. Other achievements will probably be painfully hard and mostly based on luck, but I’m not worrying about them yet.
The joke usually is that playing this game will make you want to abandon your life to become a rancher in a quirky little town. I think what I crave most about this virtual life I built myself is the forgiveness I allow my in-game self to take it one day at a time, to do the best I can with the time I have, and to not worry so much about the rest. There’s always time to go back to Pierre’s store tomorrow if I’m too late today.
There will be times in my life that are better, and times that are worse. Some days I’ll have the perfect commute, and feel productive at work, and come home to my loving husband, and cook a delicious meal, and bask in the glory of these adult accomplishments I’d never have appreciated a couple of years ago. Sometimes I’ll be dazed, grumpy, restless, and weak. Some nights I’ll catch a rare Super Cucumber on the shores of Pelican Town and feel that bizarre real-life joy from something as small and as simple as a game. I can’t ask for it all to be good. I just wish to enjoy what I can.