Today I took out a loan for 100,000 to pay for four more years of college. I moved my game piece car several squares forward and sighed. I hoped college would pay off.

Isaac, my four-year-old son, whizzed by me in his plastic LIFE game piece car. He sailed right into the workforce without higher education and began earning 90,000 a year as a police officer. I don’t know what state and county he was working in, what planet he was on, for that matter, but LIFE clearly favored him.

I dutifully finished my education and then chose a career as an “artist”, the closest career to the writer that I could find. I drew a card that stated my salary was 20,000 a year. You’ve got to be kidding, I thought. But no, the small salary seemed fairly realistic when I thought about it and I decided I did not regret it. The doctor career card I lingered over seemed too false, too clearly not me, even for a game.

A few bright squares later and Isaac and I both were stopping to “marry.” I remembered the great satisfaction I felt as a child placing a blue plastic husband in the front seat of my car before I had a flesh and blood boyfriend, let alone a husband. The small plastic piece seemed to say to me, it will happen. I looked into my future with anticipation.

A few whirls of the green ticking spinner and Isaac and I were choosing houses. He went first. “I want a big one,” he said. He surveyed the selection and picked a large, pink, turreted Victorian style house. He will make his wife happy, I thought with a laugh.

As for my selection, I was torn between a white country home on rolling acres like my current daydream of a place, and a more affordable cabin, the sort of home my husband and I actually own. It’s a game, I thought. I am going to a big country house with acres. I want to see if I can cut it.

As squares slid by under our stiff plastic wheels I discovered, no, I could not manage the mortgage on my dream home by working my dream job. I tensed through it were just a game. I wish I had gone with the smaller place, I thought.

Isaac meanwhile learned about and happily purchased home insurance and car insurance. He cheered when he had some car trouble and his insurance covered it. I groaned when my home flooded and I was out 40,000.

My spirits lifted when I added adopted twins to my tiny car. As a child, adding children to my car was the highlight of the game. I spun as slowly as I could whenever I came to the family stretch of the game. Low numbers meant I would stay longer amid the stretch littered with heart-pounding phrases like A baby boy!, A baby girl!, Twins!.

Isaac was ahead of me when I added the twins to my car but sped back and declared he too needed twins for his car. I obliged with a smile. If we were going to bend the rules here was the stretch to do it on. Driving through a game without plastic pegs in the car, representative of children, seemed too sad.

As we approached the retirement phase of the game I noticed my expensive college education had not served me well. Neither had the purchase of the large, dream home. However, I was not upset to be retiring to the section of the game labeled Countryside Acres. It suited me much more than Millionaire Estates.

After folding the game board and placing it inside the box I thought about what I had observed.

So, I am glad for my simple life. I do dream of a larger life but not one that comes at the price of freedom and peace of mind. Sometimes bigger is better but sometimes it is not. I maintain that the marriage and the children in the car, are the best part of life, at least for me. They sure beat a pile of paper money and the address of your retirement home.