Thursday, April 19, 2007

Learning To Let Go

I haven't had much free time to update lately, due to real life accellerating to December - level chaos. I just worked 15 out of the last 17 days, with one of the days off being Easter (dinner with fiancee' and her mom), and the other bringing a trip to my hometown to pick through family items that I wanted.

Long story short - my mother passed away back in 2003, and my father has been living alone in the home my family has lived in since 1975. Dad has a lady friend - a wonderful woman who has also lost her spouse in recent years - and has decided to sell the house and move in with her. Hence, he is dividing the items that made that house our home among myself, my siblings, and my niece.

When I was up there, some of the items were already gone, and the impact of what he was doing really sunk in. Furniture, decorative items, books - all these items were pieces of my past, and as long as Dad was living there with them, they existed as sort of a museum of my own past. Seeing them gone and being divided up made me realize, once and for all, that you can never go back. All you have are memories.

So I took my few pieces of that museum and now they decorate my apartment. They don't make me sad, but rather give me a sense of continuity. Now these items are a part of the home my fiancee' and I are building together, a link to the past in a time when we are enjoying the present and creating a future together.

So, here's the part that connects this all to videogames. Thanks for your patience.

As someone who once collected and kept every game and system he ever bought, letting go has been hard. In 2005 and 2006 I decided to finally let go of some of that collection, making a nice sum on eBay as a result. Testing each old game and reliving the memories of when it was new and cool was the toughest part. I would often pause just before I dropped the packages I was shipping into the slot at the post office and sigh.

As hard as it was, though, I felt good about it. I had just accumulated too much and was reaching a point where it was inconvenient to try to store it all in my apartment, and where I simply would never have time to really enjoy all those games again.

So I sold off my old pong consoles, and systems and software for RCA Studio 2, Fairchild Channel F, Astrocade, Atari 2600, Intellivision, Colecovision, Atari 5200, NES, Sega Master System, Atari 7800, Turbografx 16, Sega Genesis / CD, SNES, Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, Playstation, and N64. I also sold hundreds of videogame magazines and other items such as controllers.

At the time, I declared some things sacrosanct : My Odyssey 2 collection, my twin Vectrex units, my Commodore VIC 20 and my Commodore 64 and its vast library of games. Also, my nearly-complete run of the original Electronic Games magazine from the 1980s. These items, I decided, I would never sell.

At last we come to the core of this essay. Again, thanks for your indulgence as I rambled on back there. I am now ready to let go of all but a few pieces of my videogame past. All I'm going to keep are a few favorite old school handhelds, one of my Vectrex units and its software, the GameBoy / GameBoy Advance stuff, and the current generation stuff.

I set up my Commodore again months ago, but other than the few Sword of Fargoal sessions I blogged about, I simply haven't had the time to enjoy it. The classics are great games, and a BIG part of my past, but I really can't bring myself to sit down for hours with Bard's Tale or Wasteland when the latest Wii titles are beckoning.

It will break my heart, to a degree, to let them all go, but the time has come. Plus, when I see a copy of Space Taxi going for over $500, I feel a little better. I have that game complete, too. Cha - ching!

I plan on setting up the first wave of new auctions on Monday. I'll be out of town for the weekend going to a nice country bed and breakfast with my fiancee' to get away from it all and clear my head.

Oh, I'm also letting go of any hope of returning to Ultima Online or its community. Even with the upcoming Kingdom Reborn client upgrade, it's another classic case of something you can never go back to. Like my old family home, like the years I spent gaming on the Commodore 64, it's a era of my past that is not coming back. Time to look forward now.

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