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Broken Wheel




February 2024

Kyle Centowski is 56; James and Marla Centowski are 60; Jamie Centowski and Meadow Thayer are 17; Ashley Pitts is 64; Allyn Pitts is 60; Joshua Pitts and Lora Toyonaga are 15; Ivy Pitts and Danny Tarro are 17




As usual, Kyle woke early - earlier even than Willow, who wasn't exactly a late sleeper after years of leaving for work before 6am.


He got up quietly, and wandered into the spare bedroom that they had turned into a home office, years before.  He wondered briefly if they should just convert it back to a bedroom - he didn't actually need an office anymore.  But then, with the kids all gone, they didn't need bedrooms, either - they already had too many empty ones.

The room had always been Kyle's private domain, and as such he had kept it meticulously tidy.  Right now, though, it was a mess.


It's not like you haven't got the time... its not like you have anything better to do all day.

He made a half-hearted attempt to sort some of the papers on the desk -  rejection letter for his latest novel, some bills from the shop, a letter from his father's publishers... As Orlando's literary executor, he probably should do something about that... or not.  He put the letter back on the desk.  He'd dealt with his father's shit for the last 15 years.  Someone else could have a turn.

Not your problem any more.  Isn't that what you wanted?  For it to be not your problem any more?


On top of the mess were the shop accounts from the previous week.  Fine - they could stay there.  So Cory could run a shop - good for him.  He could even turn a small profit.  Congratulations.  When Kyle had taken over the shop from his father, profits and customer numbers had dropped.  Cory was doing a better job than he ever had, and no doubt he took great pleasure in rubbing Kyle's face in it.


I tried.  I really did.  You should have left it to him.  You must have known he'd do a better job than me.

He'd come close to opening the shop again himself, about a week after the funeral.  Then he'd suddenly realized that he didn't have to.  Like so many things in his life, Kyle had taken partnership in the shop because it pleased his father to have him do so.

They had always been close, so much so that Kyle had lived most of his adult life in the house across the road from his parents. But Orlando had become increasingly dependent on Kyle, especially after the death of his wife. Now he was gone, and no one would care what Kyle did.  At first the feeling was liberating, but as time went on Kyle became increasingly uneasy with the freedom.

What's the point of freedom when you've got no idea what to do with it



>He snapped upright, startled by the ringing phone, but made no move to answer it.  A glance at the caller ID told him it was his older brother.  Calling to nag him again, no doubt.  Get help.  See a doctor.  Do something.  What made James the expert now, anyway?  He'd barely seen his brother since Dad died, and suddenly he thought he had all the answers.  Now Willow had started on him too, and even his cousin Ashley.

>Not yourself, they said.  What do they know? I've never been my self in my whole life.


He didn't really know how or when it had begun - certainly Orlando had never pressured him in any particular direction. Probably, at some early age, he'd done something that had prompted someone to comment on how much he was like his father.  He'd seen that the comparison had pleased his father, and so it had pleased Kyle, too.  Now in his 50's, people still made the same comparison and had still pleased them both, right up to Orlando's death.

Since then, it felt less like a source of pride and more like just some kind of cruel joke.  

----


In Redwood City, James Centowski's family were spending a relaxed Saturday at home.  James' wife Marla was using the morning to catch up on work, but she enjoyed her job as City Planner enough that she didn't mind it carrying over into the weekend a bit.


Their son Jamie had no particular plans, and spent the morning just hanging out in the yard with his dog.


James had bought work home from his law practice, too.  It wasn't the only thing he wanted or needed to do, but found he really couldn't concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes...



 
 

Looking down into the yard, he saw watched Jamie with his girlfriend Meadow.  He hadn't even realized that she was here, although it didn't surprise him. She seemed to spend most of her time here lately.


They looked far too... intimate for James' comfort.  Hell, he was still having trouble with the fact that Jamie was even old enough to have a girlfriend.  The boy was their youngest child, born many years after their 3 daughters.  Marla had actually been pregnant at the same time as her eldest daughter. It was hard to believe that both Jamie, his youngest child and Autumn, his eldest grandchild, would soon start college.

He wandered back inside and looked at the family pictures on the living room wall.  It was jarring to realize that the last picture of his own family, the last time his parents and all their children were together, had been taken around the time Jamie and Autumn were starting school.  Time was moving too fast for all of them.


"Why don't you call him?"
He hadn't known that Marla was watching him.  "Call who?"
"Kyle," she replied.  "That's who you're thinking of, isn't it?"
It was, although he hadn't really realized it himself until then.  "I can't," he said, after thinking about it for a moment.  "He was upset enough last night.  He feels like we're nagging him, and I've already left a message this morning."


"Then call Ashley," she said.  "You've been moping around all morning, you need to talk to someone."

She was right, but his cousin was at work at the hospital.  James phoned anyway, and Ashley promised to drop by on the way home. Dinner was being served when he finally arrived.  Meadow joined them too - James suspected this would be a regular thing in the future.  Jamie had decided to continue to live at home when he started college, at least at first, as they lived only a short distance from the Redwood City Tech campus.  He'd hinted more than once that he'd like Meadow to move in too.


James wasn't really sure how he felt about that.  Marla had reminded him that they had agreed that, when he started college, Jamie would be treated as another adult living in the house with them.  That meant accepting that he would pursue adult relationships.  Fine, but James just wasn't completely comfortable with his youngest child pursuing adult relationships in his home.

It was late before James finally got the chance to talk privately to Ashley.  "Do you think Kyle will actually do it?", James asked. "See a doctor, I mean.".
Ashley shrugged. "He said he would, and Willow's going to keep on to him about it..."
"He has to do something,"  James said.  "Willow said he hasn't even left the house in weeks.  He can't go on like that."
"I don't know that we can force him to do anything about it, either... not unless we seriously think he's a risk to himself or someone else, but - "


James shook his head.  "No."  he said.  "No, don't even start to think that way..."
"What about the rest of the family?  How do they feel about all this?"
James shrugged.  "We hardly seem to talk lately.  Everyone's so busy... "

He found himself looking at the painting of his siblings again.  He'd thought that they were a close family, but it was like Dad had been the centre of the wheel... once the centre was gone, all the bits fly off in different directions.  There was nothing left to hold them together any more.

----

By the time Ashley drove back to Richmond, his wife Allyn was already in bed.  He tried to slip in quietly, but she was still awake.  When he apologized for being so late, she just told him that it didn't matter; James had needed him, and he'd regret it if he hadn't gone. 


She was right - Ashley had never had a brother, but he'd always had James and Kyle.  Ever since they were children, he'd tagged along with their family, they'd roomed together in college and remained close friends through the ups and downs of adult life.

"How was the day here - did I miss anything?" he asked.
"Not really... we didn't do much, the kids had their friends over..."
By her tone, he knew which "friends" she meant.  Joshua's girlfriend was Lora, a quiet, sweet girl who boarded at Redwood Academy, the private school in the city where Joshua and Ivy were day students.


He didn't know much about Lora's background or her family, but he knew they must be quite well off - how many 15 year old girls can give their boyfriends a pinball machine as a thank-you gift for an enjoyable date?


She looked like a nice girl.  Ivy's boyfriend, on the other hand...


...well, he'd tried to keep an open  mind about Danny, and to be fair, he seemed a polite enough kid.  He didn't mind listening to Allyn's long stories about the creatures she worked with in her job as head of the Bluewater Natural Science Institute...

 

... and his table manners were generally better than Joshua's...


...but Ashley still wasn't sure that was the kind of boyfriend he wanted for his daughter... not that there was much he could do about it, given that they were almost 18. But Ivy was a bright kid and he didn't want anything getting in the way of her future opportunities. He worried a lot more about Ivy and Danny spending time alone together...

 

... than he ever would about Joshua and Lora.

 
Ashley was still thinking about the kids as he started to doze off to sleep.  Maybe tomorrow they'd get a bit of time to spend together as a family.  Or maybe he'd visit his older children, spend some time with the grandchildren.


He felt Allyn's arm around his waist, her body pressed against his back, and he smiled to himself.  As much as he would wish sometimes that his children were young again, independence for them also meant independence for their parents, and that had its advantages.  Maybe tomorrow, he'd just forget about the visiting and the family time, and spend the day with his wife instead.

----

Ashley Pitts isn't the guy from the SSU fraternity, its his son - I like naming characters after their parents or someone who has been significant to their parents, because that happens a lot in my r/l family, and because I wanted to keep the names of my first generation alive in the hood.  I often refer to the younger ones by a variation of the name, or their middle name or something, to avoid confusion, but Ashley II has always been Ashley.

He has a complicated family - he had a daughter with his first wife Jordan, then we couldn't get her pregnant again no matter how much we tried, so they adopted and it was another daughter.  At this point I was worried I'd lose the Pitts name from my game - Ashley II is the only son - so I kept them trying for babies and eventually they had twins, a boy and a girl.  I thought his family was complete then, but then he divorced, and...

I gave Allyn (ex-townie) a daughter when she and Ashley got together after his divorce, because he'd previously dated her just out of college, before he met Jordan, and now they were in their 40's - I figured she must have been doing something in the years between. They had Joshua, and then a few sim-years later she rolled the ROS to fulfill her greatest want - which was to have a baby.  Realistically she was too old, but I have the hack that lets adoptions fulfill the 'have a baby' want, so they adopted ex-townie Ivy Couper, who was living in my orphanage at the time.  

The funny thing was, Ashley had a fear of having a baby at the time, but as soon as it was fulfilled, he rolled a want to have 10 kids!  He and Joshua both rolled heaps of wants related to Ivy when she joined the family, more than Allyn and it had been her idea! I wish I'd been blogging then because I think that would have been fun to turn that kind of change of heart into a story :)

And, teenagers and ACR!  I was busy playing Ivy and Danny, when the first woohoo video kicked in - Joshua and Lora.  I kind of liked the irony, given that Lora looks so sweet and innocent next to Danny :)

7 comments:

  1. Hi there. I've been reading your blog since Samantha arrived, and I'm really enjoying it so far. The Centowski/Pitt family is very interesting, if rather complicated, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them. I also enjoy playing large, complicated, families, with half siblings and step-parents and second cousins once-removed - lots of fun! Anyway, looking forward to your next post.

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  2. Thanks, Claire... this family is really large and complicated now... I'm on to their 4th/5th generation and although I've got other families that have just as big a part in the story, almost about everyone in Richmond can trace some connection to them somehow :)

    I'm got to make some family trees at some point, to help keep track as I introduce more characters.

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  3. It's nice how you have put so much information in only one post without making to super-complicated! Following 3 different sims in only one post isn't that easy, but you did it great!

    I feel a little bit sorry for James, always acted to make his father proud and now lost his way because his father died, it can't be easy, but he really needs to find some joy in life soon.
    I love how his family is so concerned about him, but I understand that he's getting annoyed by all the care as well.

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  4. Wow, isn't it always the case that parents are more concerned about their daughters in that aspect than their sons :P

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  5. Tanja, thanks... because I was worried it would turn out super-complicated! I wanted to introduce them at this point, but I didn't want to take the time for a separate post on each family. I'm glad to hear it works.

    Apple... lol... it certainly was in my family!

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  6. Oh wow, and Kyle even looks like Orlando too, lol! It must be such a blow to live your whole life for this one thing, and then when it's gone you don't know what to do. This story reminds me a lot of how some stay-at-home moms go through empty nest syndrome after their kids have grown up, because they don't know what to do next.

    I love Ashley's salt and pepper hair! :)

    And I love that you gave Allyn a daughter! I do that sometimes with my middle-aged townies too when they join the story, because it's so ridiculous to think someone in their 40's or later wouldn't have had any romantic or family history, lol!

    But wow, that's a big family now!

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  7. Laura, yeah, Kyle does look like Orlando... and that's part of the reason I got him into this mess! :)

    I wanted each branch of my family to be distinctive in that there were kind of traditions or traits that were passed down, and Kyle was the obvious choice to carry on from his father. Along with the physical resemblance, he had the film & lit OTH and a lifetime want that didn't rely on a career. Most of what I said about him being less successful, however, really happened in-game in one way or another.

    I've imagined there's probably an aspect of the empty nest thing with Kyle, too, although I couldn't really work it into the story (apart from the passing reference to the empty bedrooms). He and Willow were still relatively young when their kids had moved out, and they kept rolling baby wants, so I had them foster the Newson kids from AL. That kept them happy for a number of years, but the last of the kids moved out a few sim-months before Orlando died.

    As a family sim, being a father or father-figure would be a big thing for Kyle and he's lost that too (or, at least, its not the same, with adult children). It might affect him even more than Willow, given that she at least has a job she enjoys that is not related to the family situation.

    As for Ashley, I've tried to find these hairstyles and do something like gradual aging with my sims, especially adult to elder, because it really weirds me out to see someone go from fully black hair to fully grey hair in less than a day :)

    I try to give most of my townies a history when they become playable... in other cases I've used a teleporter to look through the available townies for others with the same last name and some physical resemblance, and made them siblings/parent-child/whatever, so the newly playable sim comes with a family.

    The others don't necessarily become playable, but they at least get an age and probably a job in one of my owned businesses... and therefore a better chance to become playable through more interaction with the playable sims.

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Thanks for reading and commenting!