Growing up In New York my family didnít have much money. I didnít have any games, or clothes. In fact, I would have to borrow my older brotherís clothes if I wanted to mix my style up at school. Unfortunately, he was five years older than me and was kind of a big boy. My days consisted of going to school, not talking to anyone, heading stright home and watching PBS (I didnít have cable). I didnít play outside, nor did I have any friends to play outside with. I just kept to myself. I would read, listen to music, and watch films. Video Games were (and are) a luxury that I rarely experience in my early life. I did have a NES at home, but that quickly broke when the shelf it was on collapse and fell into the fish tank. The only time I got to truly experience games was when I visited the home of a close family friend.
Every Saturday my family would go over my motherís best friendís apartment. Our families got along pretty well. They, like us, were poor. The apartment they lived in had one bedroom that was occupied by their only daughter, Melissa. The parentís unfortunately slept in the living room on a sofa bed. For her birthday her father manage to get her a Super Nintendo. I would look forward to visiting every Saturday just so I can play with Melissaís Super Nintendo. She only had one game, Super Mario World. This game would help me over come shyness and get me something I never had before...a friend.
Every time my family visited, my brother and I would run straight to her room. She would always close the door, which is odd, because any other family would be against that, but I guess our families trusted us. Anyway, my brother and I would jump on her bed and play Super Mario World together. We would take turns playing, and naturally, I was the last one to get a turn, and almost always died within a couple of minutes, but I didnít care - I was having fun. Three kids sitting on a big pink bed: one annoying little brother, a chubby dark haired pimply face boy, and a small pretty brunet girl with green eyes all laughing together and having fun. This is what I thought a family is supposed to be. My brother and I were never really close. In fact, he just got married in December and I have yet to see him, not only that, but he lives fifteen minutes away from me. He keeps his personal life, personal, and so do I. This was no different when we were younger, but every time we would head into Melissaís room it all changed in a matter of seconds. He would open up to me, smile at me, help me out, and ask me questions. Itís as if he was going through the same isolation I was. In a funny way video games bind us all together. It helped us start a conversation. It helped us become normal. Saturdays were the days I can act like a child, not some muted freak.
Melissa, in many ways, was the same as us. The poor girl sometimes would have bags under her eyes because of the lack of sleep she had. Playing Super Mario World was her only comfort; it distracted her from the horrors of real life. She constantly worried about her parents well being. Every time I would leave the room to grab a glass of juice or use the bathroom, I would always overhear the grown-ups talking about money. Life was hard for our families but we made the best of it. For the longest time, all I eat was rice and spam, and funny enough, thatís what I enjoy eating now.
Going to her place and playing the SNES was almost therapeutic for me. Once I had the controller in my hand, I wasnít shy anymore. I would open up and ask questions or attempt to make a joke. My brother would put his arms around me and laugh. She would take pictures of me making funny faces. We would read GamePro together and laugh at The Wizard when it aired on TV. This was all unnatural during the week, but with Melissa and her SNES, it made it all possible. Abound with friends. It's funny how something so simple can unit a bunch of poor, depressed, and confused kids.
Now, why am I writing this blog? Well, Melissa and her family moved to Argentina when I was 14. I only visited her once when I was 17. My mother just received the news last night that she was hit by a car in Buenos Aires. She died instantly. Itís really hard to express my feelings. When I heard the news, I didnít cry, but just remembered the good times. I must admit that for the last couple of years I completely forgot about her. Melissa was just a memory, just another person I knew. But something in me whishes I can thank her. Thank her for introducing me to games. Thank her for getting me out of my shell. Thank her for giving me confidence. I can say for a fact, that women (friend or relationship wise) were the only people who got
me. I have yet to experience friendship with a male, which is strange considering I was very shy toward the opposite sex. Melissa is one of many women who helped me become a better person inside and out. I would like to thank Melissa for helping me break out of my shell and share a few intimate moments with my brother, and I would also like to thank Mario, because if it wasnít for your game, we would have never explored our commonality. We escaped to a world of color, imagination, wonder, and pixels.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupťry