January 8, 2012 by Amanda Zahn
I have always been a major gamer. My very first gaming system was a shared present with my sister one Christmas when I was very young. We had always had access to other systems, like Atari or Caleco Vision, but the 8-bit Nintendo was my first endeavor into being a true and unabashed gamer. We played for hours whenever we were allowed. Because it was in the 80s — and my parents were very young — we often had to compete with them for play time, but my sister and I excelled in every game we owned.
I have a strong conviction that I could still give anyone a run for their money in most of those games.
As I got older, my gaming alter-ego got more advanced, more elaborate. Given gaming systems that were smarter, faster, and more visually stimulating than their predecessors, my hand/eye coordination, reaction times, and critical thinking skills ballooned into something outstanding. While teachers of my youth would not credit my problem solving abilities, spacial relations, or my perseverance — okay, stubbornness — to the video games I was playing, I can look back now and know that it helped put me in every accelerated class, gifted program, or advanced learning situation in which I was involved.
Fast forward a few years and consoles, and you will find me still playing console games. I will admit to not being nearly as capable as I was in my youth, but I can credit that to the controllers having a dozen more buttons than my faithful 8-bit Nintendo. Having only two buttons to utilize, and very small hands, made those archaic controllers seem crafted specifically for me. Regardless, I do still love my consoles and have grown into a PC gamer as well. What a well-rounded world in which I live.
This simple background, if you can call it that, was spawned while I traced my steps that brought me to where I am today. That is always the case with me, it seems: how did I get here? What did I do that led me to this point? What choices did I make that shaped me into the figure I am today?
Through gaming, I have been blessed with a multitude of friendships that will last a lifetime. The most prominent relationship I have formed through video games will always be Johnny. He is the twin I was supposed to have, although he is eight years younger than me and has a different mom than mine. I cannot say that I have watched him grow, even though I have. Truthfully, we have watched each other grow. I can look back at our younger selves, at how we met and became close, and I can see the drastic changes that have happened in so many years. They are great changes.
It would take days for me to explain our relationship, and there would be many things not explainable. I do not know why we connected, and I surely do not know why his mother allowed a complete stranger to stay in her home with her two kids so many years ago, but his friendship — and his mom and sister’s — has made me a better person than I would have been otherwise. My Christmas season was among the best I have ever had because I got to spend a day with all of them.
Another important relationship established because of gaming is mine with Matt. I have dated a few of the guys I have met online, and every relationship has been enriching — and enlightening — in its own way. I have learned as much about dating a “stranger” as I have about myself as a… dater? I never did relationships very well, and I was always forthcoming with that information when that “Will you be mine?” question was asked. My relationship with Matt was an accident, but a welcome one.
The relationship is on my mind because of an excellent date night this weekend. While always very close, Matt and I have never gone on any special dates. Sure, we have done the obligatory dinner-and-a-movie dates, but this was something different. We went to Downtown Disney for no particular reason but to wander, window shop, eat dinner, and just spend time together. In a world where everyone is looking for those perfect moments, we had many.
There are two very memorable parts to this night for me. The first is wandering by, and stopping to watch, the water display that was synchronized to the music playing over the loudspeakers. This water fountain is one that is flat with the ground and people can walk over it with the risk of getting wet. So we stood together and watched people dance with the water while “Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty and “Kiss the Girl” from the Little Mermaid played. The song from Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorites and is one that I have sung to Ethan, Harmony, and Haven at one point or another in their lives.
The other memorable moment is getting Matt, who is afraid of heights, into the balloon that goes as high as 400 feet. While we did not go that high because of the winds, we went much higher than he was typically comfortable with and he took it like a champion. We did not take any pictures, but we looked and enjoyed the view together.
It may not sound like much to some people, but it was a beautiful evening for me. I kind of love him. Shh, do not tell him I said so.
Before I close this blog post, I will add another bit of news that was completely unexpected. We adopted a kitten. It was not planned and, to be honest, I had originally declared that we would avoid getting a pet until I graduated and completed the drive across country and the move to… I do not know where. We made a trip to Target, conveniently located next to Petsmart, and I could not help but wander in to look. We still had some of Bob’s cat food to donate, so I justified myself with that.
I have named this kitten Cairo. While I accept inquiries as to why I chose that name, the only answer I have is because it just seemed right for her. She is an eight month old, domestic short hair that looks similar to Bob. The differences are minor and I am sure that a dozen years from now when people look at pictures of my beloved Bob and my baby Cairo, only I will be able to tell them apart. Well, Matt will too, but only because I have posed this challenge — as obscure of a challenge it might be.
Good health, smart choices, and happy living, ladies and gentlemen. See you next Sunday, if not sooner.