It's been a long time. A year, in fact, since I'd felt like I could truly call myself a resident of Crawford. A horrible thing to say, considering my station. See, a year ago I was this villa's mayor. Technically, I still am. You know how things go in small towns. It's a case of no one else wanting the job, the position mainly being that of a figurehead, and my former/current assistant, Isabelle, doing a good enough job on her own. While I went off to see and experience new and exciting things in Castele and Hoenn, life went on as usual.
But here I am, back again. It's more of a visit than a move back. At least, that's what I think it is. It's difficult to be sure, when it comes to such things. You hear about the imminent arrival of new content through the grapevine, decide to stop by to see what happens, and who knows what might happen from there. After all, word from my friend in Japan was that items from across the sea were going to start being sent over as gifts. I had to return and see what surprises would arrive at the post office.
It's funny, though, because I thought Crawford would move on without me. It had happened with the towns of Midgar and Hayward, years before. I'd established myself, enjoyed my time with my neighbors, built up a lovely home, then moved on to new adventures once I felt the time was right. That is, once I'd paid off my home, gotten every room to my liking, attended all events, and befriended every neighbor. Sometimes, I'd stop by a few weeks or months later, and everything would be different. Neighbors would be gone. The town would have returned to nature. Those who did remain nearly forgot about me.
Perhaps it was due to one of my most famous and popular ordinances, to keep the town beautiful, but Crawford remained the same. Flowerbeds remained intact, even the ones with the rare Jacobs Ladders. Only a handful of weeds appeared, despite having been away for nearly a year. It was as though I'd been gone a day. I suppose I felt a little sad, to know that my absence and neglect hadn't taken a toll.
The sadness was quickly replaced by guilt. While previous towns' denizens had abandoned them as quickly as I had, the people of Crawford remained. Only Daisy, a character who had been living there since June 9, 2013, had chosen to find a new home. Everyone else - Hamphrey, Beardo, Lucky, Peanut, Baabara, Rosie, and Deirdre - had decided to remain. Likewise, only one person thought the place was worth moving to in my absence. Merry was setting herself up as I returned. It was strange, seeing such devotion, when I'd become used to these places falling apart without my presence.
It's made me realize how far the Animal Crossing series has come. I mean, think of what the original installments were like. How quickly the games were to punish people who decided they had something else they needed to do. I can't speak for others, but the fact that every Animal Crossing moved on so easily without the player made me question my devotion. Silly as it may sound, I suppose I wanted my fake, animal friends to be as devoted to my home as I was. Now that I've come back to Animal Crossing: New Leaf to prepare for the influx of Japanese DLC, I'm simultaneously delighted and anguished to see a town where it felt like things were okay without me there.
Coming back to a town that will still retain much of the original population and little maintenance to return to its former glory is a joy. It feels like Animal Crossing: New Leaf understands me. Still, I can't help but think it would have been nice to see things a little more disheveled or a few more people absent, as though the town needed my personal touch and these creatures didn't find the town worth living without me. It's amazing the kinds of feelings such a simple life simulation can evoke.