Florence, relationships and the puzzle of life.

Before I begin writing about the game I figured I would give some personal back story as to why the game had such a profound impact on me at a very specific time in my life. Most of us have probably have a piece of media touch us in some way at a time in our lives. A sort of moment in time when things just align in a way that almost makes it seem like you're living your very own version of The Truman Show.

Two years ago come February I decided my marriage was over, the spark wasn't there and had not been for a long time. It had taken me some time to realize I was living with someone who had become more of a roommate than a wife to me. It wasn't anyone's fault (at least not in any direct way), our relationship had just for some reason reached its expiration date and I couldn't spend another day living a charade. I mustered up the courage for the talk and I let it all out. When you hear about relationships and marriages ending you often hear the side of the person receiving the bad news, the shock and sadness of a heart breaking. And I had been on both sides before and it's always a hard time for both parties involved for a number of reasons. But ending a marriage and a relationship that was ten years long was a different kind of hard. The lives are much more intertwined, the logistics of a shared life and knowing someone you consider at the very least a dear friend will have their world shattered in a fraction of a second from your words.

There's a sense of freedom that comes when that initial bump is over, being that true to yourself. But there's also a tremendous amount of guilt. The following months after our talk I was losing weight by the day due to sleep issues, anxiety and a general lack of self-care. Once the split was official and the logistics of the separation was done things settled and I was slowing finding my balance again. During this time I was finding myself, realizing things I had put on hold that I had wanted to do for a long time. I bought a guitar that I was (and still am) slowly teaching myself to play, bought new clothes and started realizing who was on a deeper level and what I wanted out of life.

By the end of the year I was living a really nice life again, happier than I had been in years. If I was someone that believed in concepts such as energies attracting, I would say it was meant to be because I was ready now. During the new year's weekend a year ago I decided to take a weekend away in a different city just by myself. Celebrating New Year's Eve in a fancy hotel room with a bottle of my favorite whisky and a sky filled with fireworks outside my window. It felt like a fitting end to a year spent on my own. Little did I know life had other plans. Prior to arriving in the city I had briefly talked to a woman on a dating app. When she asked what I was doing on New Year's Eve, I told her I would actually be in her city over the weekend and told her about my plans for a solo New Year's Eve. But seeing as I was in town we took the opportunity to meet up the day before New Year's Eve.

My solo weekend ended up not being particularly lonely as we spent most of it together. This woman was in so few words; fantastic. She was genuinely hilarously funny, intelligent and beautiful. It had been a long time since I could recall being so drawn to someone, it was intoxicating and intimidating all the same time. We spent every possible weekend together after that. We decided we were official after a while and not long after that we made plans to have her move in with me and the logistics of that.

It was at this moment in time that I started playing Florence. That game begins when Florence is living a mundane, routine life. Something I had been feeling for a while prior to my divorce. She meets someone new and life begins anew. As I was in the middle of the adventure that is a new and exciting relationship I was seeing so much of Florence early stages with her new found love extremely relatable. Everything was fun, even grocery shopping, and conversations were flowing like the well of topics had no end. Life seemed to get a bigger spectrum of colors and I sincerely told my girlfriend that I didn't think a love like that which I feel for her was ever going to enter my life, and I still feel profoundly lucky to have met her. When Florence and her partner moves in together it really hit me, the compromises of a shared life. What stuff should be up for display, what furniture are you going to use? I spent a lot of time in this part of the game for some reason. I wanted Florence to be represented, but her partner needed space too. So what do you sacrifice to let someone else feel at home?

I had forgotten what that part was like but elegantly Florence reminded me of it. It's exciting to turn one home into a place for two, yet it's also very complicated. Tastes differ and things that hold value on some level may also look more like a relic from your relationship history to the other person. I was reminded that cohabitation is a real life puzzle that has no right solution, just many different solutions that may or may not please two people equally all the time. But you compromise, because the person you love is more important than an object that has been sitting on a shelf for a long time.

Florence life with her partner takes a turn eventually and starts falling apart. The dialogue puzzles are a mess, moves fast and communication breaks down. What was once a happy place turns into a broken vase that has been fixed with glue too many times. Eventually there's no turning back, the vase is beyond repair. We thus arrive at the same puzzle as before when Florence and her partner moves in together, but this time we pack things up. I was reminded of the anxiety of splitting up a home, do I get to keep the things I value or will the other person claim them for themselves? This time though most solutions are always bad for someone, and you're less likely to want to compromise because there isn't that love there to urge you into those for the well being of the other. You want to protect yourself and they want to protect themselves. What was once a home is now a cold calculated business transaction of things.

Eventually the dust settles and you begin your journey again. Florence finds herself in her paintings, realizing who she is on her own. And I found myself realizing my life at that point was an achronogical mirror to Florence. I had been through all of the stages in recent memory but out of order. My life had all the elements of her story in a jumbled version. In some way it made me appreciate the ups and downs of life and the puzzles it comes with. How it changes but change isn't necessarily bad, it may very well be the best thing that could happen to you, even if at some moment it seems to be the hardest thing you have to do.

Here I am now, living with the most amazing individual I have had the pleasure of falling in love with along with her two cats whom I now am a sort of adoptive father to. I feel like a better version of myself, the best version of myself in years. Even though I have written all of this and concluded that change isn't always bad, I still naturally wish and hope not specifically secretly that this time, this person, is the one with which there will not be a need to glue pieces of a vase back together. Because it will not break. I will at the very least to my very best to make sure of that.

Thank you for reading!