Monday, October 20, 2014

My Game Boy

I read recently, "The days are long, but time flies" or something of that sort. As I contemplate turning 50 one month from today, I can definitely say that is the understatement of the year...or, more appropriately, the half century mark, if you will. I am not morbid about aging, and I don't have any unnatural feelings about it. I just really kind of sit here and shake my head at how fast it has all gone. 

One does not have to look far or hard to see how fast time has gone. Think back to your cell phone 5 years ago. Or consider the price of gas the first time you filled your car tank. Recall the dress code issues when you were in school. Find any little tidbit from your teenage years, and compare it to anything you see a teenager out there doing today. Time flies, and life evolves.

I will always be a bit of a technology buff, I believe, if I can continue to keep up with it. I will forever remember where I was the night Princess Diana died, because I was in my home "office" at my computer, a Compaq Presario All-in-One, with one disc drive in the front - a new ground-breaking 3.5" inch hard disk, which ushered in the farewell for the floppy disk. We paid $2,500 for that computer at Comp USA in Houston, and we were on the cutting edge to have a desktop computer at home. Now, mind you, this was all of 1994. Twenty years ago.

And the internet? As we knew it then, the internet existed as viewed from the portal through the parameters of AOL. We didn't even know the real internet. And accessing it? Dial-up baby. As in modem. As in nothing else could be going on communication wise. As in you had to have your phone line connected to the back of your computer and no phone talking could occur. It's funny to remember, and also kind of crazy to contemplate at the same time.

I bought that computer for my new working woman turned stay-at-home mom business. I was so proud of it. Business cards printed with my email address, and the phone number that would ring if I wasn't out surfing AOL's news bites of the real world wide web. I do remember Kraft and Proctor and Gamble as being two of the companies that began ghosting their web address on the bottom left corners of their television commercials. And I also remember scoffing at why in the world anyone would ever need to know their dot com addresses. 

One of my tender memories, and I have the photo tucked away safely on a scrapbook page, is my oldest son, around 18 months old, standing on his tip toes, sippy cup in his left hand, and his right hand is extended up to the computer keyboard, and he is trying so hard to connect with that machine. I guess even back then he was wired a little like mom - interested in all things technology. 

Fast forward three years, and that little blonde boy that was so full of energy and light would be scampering around under my desk in a new house in a new city, hooking up the computer components, following the color codes on the peripherals to plug them in correctly. I can still see his little feet sticking out from the desk, his whole little body almost hidden underneath the desk and behind the tower. I had graduated at this point to a black Dell. Woot, woot.

It wasn't soon after this moment that I began battling this little tow-headed bundle of ideas for computer time. Yes, one computer in the house. He would want to play either Roller Coaster Tycoon, or his Tonka Construction game. I folded many loads of laundry to the sounds of either a dump truck backing up, or kids screaming as their coaster descended. If I were to hear either of those game sounds today, I would instantly be transported back to a house in San Antonio, where I fought the blacktopped barefoot imprints on beige berber like nobody's business.

Computer games gave way to Game Boy and Nintendo DS and then PlayStation 3...but somewhere along the way, the boy returned to a computer game. When we lived in McAllen, he and his classmates stumbled upon a game called RuneScape and he would play this game on the family computer that we had set up - that same Dell that had been with us in San Antonio was hanging in there, on its last leg.

For Christmas in 2001, my amazing husband gifted me with the first iPod, it having been released in October 2001. {So, think about that for a minute - the iPod isn't even 15 yet.} Well, I was taken completely by surprise! I had no idea he was getting this for me, and I set out immediately on Christmas Day afternoon to begin importing my CD's into this new software called iTunes. Well, like an 85-year-old on Jeopardy, that poor computer didn't stand a chance memory wise. And my poor husband didn't realize that the Christmas iPod would require a New Year's laptop. I love that man for so many reasons, but one near the top of the list is that he will indulge my technological cravings. Time after time.

I left Best Buy on New Year's Eve with a newfangled laptop, of all things, and began once again the transporting of all of my LIFE, including music and photos, onto the latest version of personal computing. The old Dell, with some life in it still, was relegated to my sons - and the oldest launched full fledge into his RuneScape games, often with his younger brother sitting at his side, content to watch the medieval questing and simulated life.

Over ten years, in three homes, on four computers, my oldest son has played RuneScape. I can understand it a little. I fought my own demon of addiction with Zoo Tycoon when the boys were in grade school. I finally had to quit the game altogether so there would be clean clothes in the drawers and food on the table. {And that reminds me of an aunt that was an avid video gamer in her seventies...maybe it's just in our gene pool...}

During Philip's last year of high school, he became more intentional about hanging out downstairs. I appreciated that so very much. It gave me so much joy to see him hunkered over his computer screen on the couch, or at the desk in the family room, or in one of my slipper chairs here in Scrap Central. He lived for the release of new quests and has now accumulated quite the collection of holiday regalia from ten years of completing activities on his RuneScape account. I like seeing what he's done with his character. I like seeing him figuring out how to do something. I like seeing him passionate about ideas. I like seeing him game. 

The quest goes on. He's in college now. I miss seeing him here, hanging out.  But in the young man now, with his sophisticated MacBook on his lap, I can in the blink of an eye go back in my mind to that little tow-headed boy, camped out on the bleached pine desk in my San Antonio study, backing up dump trucks and building houses on the old black Dell. It is a joy to watch your children grow and change. And it is a joy to see some character traits deepen and morph, much as the very pixels on our screen have. Yes, the days are long, but time flies. 

Ten Years on the Quest ~ Philip & RuneScape ~ March 2013

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Carta Bella
Letter Stickers: Pink Paislee and Cosmo Cricket


  1. What a great LO, Penny. Yes, in a blink of an eye I can see my little guy with his Nintendo 64, staying up all Christmas night and playing. Memory is a wonderful gift. Thx for sharing yours and refreshing mine!

  2. Loved reading your post!! and I can so relate!! I turned 50 in November and felt exactly the same!! :) I'm so happy I still have a 9 year old and a 15 year old at home! (my dd is a foreign exchange student in Louisiana right now, so miss her a lot! - I'm from The Netherlands)

  3. Ohhhh, I totally forgot to tell you how awesome your layout is!!! I never do spreads anymore, but now I see yours, I'm tempted to try again!