I put the kettle on and make a cup of herbal tea for one, gazing out of the window at the world outside and reminiscing about the days before I fell ill with M.E. It’s strange to think that there was a time, not so long ago, when I would regularly go out and meet my friends for a coffee and a catch up. I enjoyed nothing more than listening to what my friends had been up to, learning about their lives and experiences; sharing stories and reflecting on the obscurities of life, the universe and everything… My friendships have meant so much to me over the years and all those chats over coffee were really special times. These days I need to save my precious energy for the few hours a day that I’m fortunate enough to be able to work. The extra exertion involved in going out and chatting with a friend can cause my symptoms to get worse, so it’s an activity that needs to be carefully managed and isn’t something I get to enjoy very often.
But today things are different….
The world has suddenly become a brighter place. Today I get that part of my life back, without any negative impact on my health. And what has changed you might ask? Well, The Roost coffee shop has arrived in Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch and I’m going to sit down with my cup of herbal tea, turn on my Switch, and meet my friend Gem (who also has M.E.) for a coffee in the game!
Coffee At The Roost
For those of you who don’t play Animal Crossing, The Roost coffee shop is run by Brewster, a quietly spoken pigeon, who is a real coffee aficionado . The Roost is located within in the Museum and it’s open 24/7, which is perfect for any players who struggle with sleep issues (as is a common symptom for people with M.E.). Rather than lying in bed, feeling wired, tired and frustrated, I can now switch on Animal Crossing and go and sit quietly in The Roost; enjoying the calming atmosphere and listening to the chill music, until I feel ready to go back to sleep. Perfect.
Gem and I were really excited about The Roost coming to the game so, as soon as the update arrived, we immediately arranged to go for coffee! It was lovely to add the date to my otherwise empty diary: ‘Coffee with Gem. 3pm’. I even treated myself to a new jacket (in the game) to mark the occasion! Gem arrived at the airport, where I greeted her with a freshly made Cherry Smoothie (as the update now lets players prepare food and drink recipes too!). We did some shopping together, and then decided it was coffee time. Woo-hoo!
The Spirit of Generosity
When you step inside The Roost you’re greeted by a row of stools in front of the counter, where you can sit when you’re visiting on your own, and there are two tables which seem to be ‘reserved’ (according to Brewster); unless you have company, and then you’re allowed to sit at them. It seems the last person to sit down is given the option of who gets to pay the bill: you can either pay for everyone, split the bill, or put it on your tab. So far, I’ve only tried the first option, which actually reminds me of going for coffee in real life…
My friends and I would always argue over who was going to pay the bill, always wanting to treat one another! In the end I started keeping a list of whose turn it was to make sure it was fair! I’m never very good at winning arguments, as I tend to back down too easily, so I had a sneaking suspicion my friends were covering the bill more often than I was and that wasn’t on at all! Once they knew I had the list, they’d ask me whose turn it was – which enabled me to sneakily treat them a few extra times, by saying it was my turn several times in a row… (Although, perhaps, I shouldn’t have mentioned that!)
The Benefits of Drinking “Magic Coffee”
Was so nice to visit @ME_AndMy_Island and have a “magic” coffee that doesn’t give me palpitations!”@gem_fearless
In the game, Gem kindly treated me to our very first coffee. When the coffee arrived, we drank it immediately and the expressions on our faces were priceless! I get the feeling the coffee on my Island is a dark roast with a robust and full flavour (or, in simple terms, it tastes really bitter!). I’ve never been a fan of coffee in real life as I’m not very keen on the taste (especially when it’s bitter) and I’m also very sensitive to the caffeine as it has an immediate effect on my body and invariably gives me the jitters. I’ve always been more of a hot chocolate connoisseur to be honest (but don’t tell Brewster!). As well as M.E., Gem has Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and drinking coffee causes her to experience palpitations, so it’s something she avoids. In the game, we ended up drinking three cups of coffee each! We both agreed it was much better drinking Brewster’s ‘magic’ coffee in the game, than it is dealing with the side effects of drinking coffee in real life…
A Holiday Treat
When I found out the date of the Animal Crossing update, I decided to book a week off work, so that I could free up the time, and energy, to enjoy the new content. Since I fell ill, I’ve used all of my annual leave days as time to rest and recover, in an attempt to keep my symptoms under control. Having the Animal Crossing update to look forward to has given me a real boost. For once, I’ve been looking forward to my holiday as I’m using it for a specific event (although, I have to confess, I did get a bit too excited on the day of the update and ended up paying the price health-wise). Using up too much emotional energy can be just as much of an issue as overdoing things physically or cognitively.
I’ve really enjoyed playing Animal Crossing this week and, an extra benefit has definitely been getting to spend extra time online with my friend and fellow Animal Crossing fan, Luisa. I think we’ve both worn ourselves out a bit enjoying everything the update has to offer, swapping items, and chatting about our experiences and aspirations. Luisa and I both agree that The Roost is a welcome addition to the game; although we might need to regulate our coffee intake going forwards…
It’s Good To Talk
I asked Luisa what she liked most about The Roost, as a person with M.E. and she replied:
…going for coffee is a really nice break even from the normal Animal Crossing activities. Running around the island with friends is great fun but it can be mentally taxing, so stopping for an in-game coffee is a nice way to catch a breather and just have a chatLuisa
I have to agree with Luisa.
The moments I enjoy the most in the game are always the times when we just stop and chat (which happens often!). We always seem to reach a point in the game where we’ll end up standing in one spot and start busting out our best dance moves (so cute to watch!), whilst discussing the fun things our villagers have been up to, what ideas we have for our Islands, and what custom designs we’ve found online… These moments, when we stop and chat, are the moments when I feel most like my old myself again. And, somehow, being able to have those moments sitting down, relaxing in The Roost over a virtual coffee, really makes me feel like I have my social life back again. I think that my lovely anteater villager, Pango, summed it up perfectly when I spoke to her shortly after The Roost opened on my Island:
This is the best life, my friend. No reason to ever go back to the real world when Brewster’s right here!Pango