Forty-eight hours pass in the same manner. Shut down and shut inside, I nurse the weekend in my own quiet company. It’s a voluntary thing, stepping back from the world for a bit. Not that the world cares when I’m stepped back or not; such is the anonymity of the millions.
I sit on my couch, consumed by the glow of the entertainment terminal. In my hands I manipulate a controller, signalling over airwaves to the connected machine across from me. I alternate the manner in which I sit, as the hours pass. Sometimes I am leaning forward, sometimes I am slouched back. Occasionally, one leg is propped up on a nearby ledge in the hab.
For many in Citadel, the Friday night is about the party. The stress relief, the celebration of the next day’s break from the work routine. And Saturday, in turn, becomes about enjoying that down-time. Going places. Buying things. Drinking.
There is no better way, for me, this weekend, to indulge in the break than to let my thoughts and my life become consumed by a computer game. I’m flung, as I play, into a far place. I gather resources, I fly between planets, I weather storms. I game.
It is a distraction, and I know it. The chores are building up again, and I’m hiding from my own disappointment in my own life. The absence of people around me is intentional, but also not exactly optional. There isn’t anyone who would spend time with me this weekend, even if I asked. So to turn that on its head, I am deliberately choosing to be alone. Can’t be lonely if you chose it, I figure.
Correctly, for once.
Night deepens on the Friday. The neighbours upstairs argue. Not enough to shake the ceiling this time, but loud enough that I can hear that they are still not happy. In other parts of he block the thud of steps in the halls, the shutting of doors, and the murmur of passing conversation all clue me into the lives being lived around me. This weekend, I do not care.
I sometimes surface from my self induced trace to swap massages on the comm. The dating bulletins show some promise for a few hours, but quickly the conversations stall out, as they always do. Hard to keep each other interested, when we all know that the other person is disposable.
The hab needs a scrub down. It will get it, but not this weekend. I did clip a creeping vine away from the outside of the hab’s main window, where it had been ticking and scratching in the wind over the last few weeks. Eerie, that was, on some nights; the world outside, tapping to come in. There are two documents, printed out and waiting on a chair near the main terminal. Physical reminders so that I don’t lose them in the electronic detritus of my life. I need to get to them, but not now, I have decided. I need to make a call to each, to register new living details. Nearly a year late.
After a vivid, colour-infused sleep – my dreaming mind whirling along the paths I had created in the game loop – I start again on the Saturday. Back to the peaceful exploration. Back out into the stars. Collect resource, sell resource. Take items and give items. Gently quest. It never ends and I never want it to. Part of me wonders if I could ever be so at peace in my own life – living a loop that was built on the foundation of exploration, that valued travel and new ideas. I don’t know where I’d get the credits. I only know one way to earn credits. The loop of my own life is built around the same office, every day. The same location. The same people. There is nothing new.
The water goes out, late in the evening. It’s not entirely unexpected, for there have been construction crews working outside the hab these past weeks. They’ve likely hit a main, I saw water escaping along the street in an earlier, brief, foray outside while it was still light. I make a short trek to a small store, one that I know will still be open. Out from central, the all-nighters are harder to find,, but there if you look. I pick up some bottles of water in case the outage lasts. By the time I get back to the hab, the water is back on, of course. Sputtering at first, but slowly gaining pressure.
Well, at least I now have supplies in case it happens again.
Sunday repeats the cycle. The deliberate evasion, hiding from life, the purposeful avoidance of people who are not there to be avoided. Everything is simple, here. The gentle blue glow of my terminal, the silence of my own unspeaking self, the waves of soft music presented by the game. There are those who feel that gaming isn’t a worthy past time. That’s fair, it may not be for everyone in the extend I am letting it consume me this weekend, although all are welcome to try it – it is not an exclusive past time, and it is far more varied than anyone could expect. It invites all try see if they could enjoy it. For me, this weekend, the simple unfocused peace away from life is not a loss, it is not a waste. It is regenerative. I know that my mental state is in a better place, for taking this time-out for a little while.
At the back of my mind, as I play the calming game, I make silent plans. I think about the exploration that I can do, the people that I could meet. I think about the ways that I can climb out of the hole I live in, and acknowledge what my distant friends have told me over the comm, these past weeks: that I have already made a lot of progress. I’m not out yet, but I am climbing. Just because I still haven’t reached the lip of this crater, it doesn’t mean I can’t. Just got to keep climbing.
For that, I need energy. For that, I need a little rest, right now. This weekend, I rest.