I'm very fortunate to be where I am right now with the people I love. I want to say before I start that this is something I've never gotten to write about. With that being said I'm going to try to to keep this from being too emotional and just share my experience.
August 2005. D'iberville, Mississippi(Just north of Biloxi).I had just turned 16 and started the school year as a sophomore. I had typical 16 year old problems. I hated school. I hated Mississippi more and wanted to leave that backwards ass place more than anything. I had girl problems. I was dating a girl I loved and yet still loved my ex, who in return loved me. There was nothing more that I wanted than a great escape. A 'win' button. Anything.
The last week of August 2005. A hurricane formed over the Bahamas and they called it Katrina. Not a big deal. I'd been living on the Gulf Coast my entire life and I'd stayed through plenty of hurricanes. Even one in '98 that knocked our power out for a week. My biggest concern at that time was the fact that I couldn't play Diddy Kong Racing until it was back on. In any case, this hurricane wasn't even supposed to hit us head on. Not a big deal.
Of course anyone that even glanced at the news during 2005 knows that it turned out to be a big deal. The day before Katrina made landfall. We all sat around our first floor apartment and watched the news. Katrina was turning straight into us as a Category 4 hurricane. We talked about going to my grandparents house(2 hours south of New Orleans), but my mother was sick so we decided to stay. We'd done it before.
Now before you think I'm setting up some melodramatic tale about how everything I owned was destroyed and how horrible it was for me, I'm not. Everything I owned was pretty much destroyed, sure. My family was put through a horrible traumatizing event. Water poured into our apartment and flooded it. My mom, dad, 10 year old sister and I had to wade our way out and find higher ground so we wouldn't drown. We had to wait it out and I had to try and call people to tell them I loved them so they'd know if I died. I grabbed a painting my ex-girlfriend painted for me before we ran out and that was it.
After the dust had settled(so to speak) we all piled in my Dad's new Dodge Ram he had just bought the week before(didn't look so new now). As it was the only car that wasn't flooded. We went to my grandparents for a few days, and after those few days of Louisiana heat with no power or air-conditioning we decided to leave before we all tore each others' throats out. We decided to head to Memphis to stay with some friends for a while so we could figure out what we were doing.
This my friends leads me up to my great escape. After I settled into a stranger's home where I would be staying the next month or so, I found it...my salvation. A PlayStation 2. Two games called Star Ocean: Till the End of Time and Ico would fit snugly inside my newfound love and keep me company throughout the chaos. Only something I've been doing since I was 3 years old could provide the escapism necessary to keep me sane. Talking to my friends about where they were and how bad the damage to their houses was takes a toll on you. Realizing that things will never be the same.
I remember beating Ico and feeling the same sense of accomplishment that I've always felt from beating games. I remember feeling the beauty and the simplicity of the game. I remember that feeling life goes on. As small of a part as these games played in this small, yet undoubtedly important chapter of my life, I feel that they really helped me to maintain order. I look back on Ico not as an amazing game that changed the way I looked at games, but a game that helped me when no one else could.
I ended up having quite a journey. After Memphis I moved to Upstate New York where I graduated with new friends and incredible memories. I moved right after graduation to Kansas City where I live now. Life has gone on and I've still got quite a bit left.
The Gulf Coast is my home. I've showed pictures of destruction that tug at my heartstrings because these are places I grew up and knew. I don't want the theme of this blog to be a total downer, so I'll tell you that my family was helped out in a big way by people from New York that were volunteering and giving out food in D'iberville. I later met this group of people in what can be called a highly unlikely coincidence when I moved to New York. I know, right?
Like I said, I'm very fortunate to be where I am today with the people that I love. And I'm fortunate to have an awesome community to share it with.