Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ben's Corner: A Sad Day for the House that Built Me

Well, this is a bit sad, but I figured I'd go ahead and bring it up since it was a big part of who I am today... Last weekend, the house I grew up in was completely burned up. While we haven't heard anything about how it happened, the house is blocked off by tape, and arson signs can be seen on both doors. Who did it, I don't know, but either way it's something I hate to think about. This was the place where I spent most of my life, from age 4 up until I was 17, and just thinking about someone burning it down on purpose makes me sick. All of the memories up in flames... Really, it is thanks to this place that I started playing games so much, and if it wasn't for that my life would have been completely different. I mean, sure, you could trace all of this back to my cousin giving me his NES, or my uncle letting me play his games, but I most likely wouldn't have even played them as much if it weren't for this house. You see, this house was special... It wasn't where I lived, it was a place I spent most of my time and grew up in.

When I was growing up, up until I was 17 years old, my mom had a different kind of job. She was a home manager for a company that helped those who were developed mentally disabled. These were people who were simply unable to live on their own, so they were placed in group homes (typically of two), and a home manager was there to help take care of them. These managers would be required to be at these homes 5 days a week, they would do all of the shopping, and well, basically take care of the home as if it were their very own. Of course there were others who would fill in when needed, and my grandma would work the weekend shift, but as for my mom, she was almost always there. This is the life I was born into, and to me those who lived there were like family, and I truly saw the place as a second home.

Since I was there almost all the time, video games became a huge part of my life. Each Monday I would bring a game console from home, along with a few games with me to play, and that would become my main source of entertainment. Of course we had cable TV as well, but gaming was what I turned to most of the time. I'd pick a few games I had either not finished yet, or simply felt like playing, and throughout the week that is what I would do. I'd get home from school, watch Nick on TV as I ate, then I'd pick up a game and work my way through it when I felt like it. I still have so many fond memories of coming home and playing Mega Man X, and waking up early Saturday morning to play Pokemon before the new episode was on TV. I'd sit there in the chair outside "our" room (I had my own roll away bed, so sometimes I'd put it in the front room as well) and watch the show on the small TV my mom personally bought for that room, and I'd pull out my GBC and go back to catching pokemon as soon as it was over -- sometimes even trying to copy what I had just saw! These were the highlights of my weekend mornings, but only a small part of my life in that house. I still remember the days when I'd come home and watch Toonami after school. Dragon Ball Z, Zoids, Gundam 08th MS Team, and so on, sitting there watching these shows after a long day are memories I'll always treasure as well... But let's also not forget the snow days! Being "trapped" there was great. I didn't have to go to school, I got to watch movies on TV, I could play games without thinking about homework, and I got to spend more time with everyone who lived there. It was great.

Other memories of mine that stand out there are the times I managed to finish some games. Once I decided that I was going to give Mega Man X7 another shot, and I chose to bring only my PS2 with me and a copy of that game. That night I sat there and ran through that game over and over. I saved every reploid, I did pure runs as each character, I saw all of the different boss dialogue, and I uncovered every upgrade. I completely 100%ed that game, and in the end I realized it wasn't as bad as I had once thought. Without any other game around, I was always focused on it, and because of that I was able to appreciate the game so much more. Of course this isn't the only game this happened to me with, but it was one that stood out the most. Another one that really stood out though was a game about life -- Animal Crossing. I used to come home every single day excited to see what would be happening in my town, and each day I would then spend hours playing. "My fruit grew back! I can make some fast money!" and "oh wow! Look at that in Nook's shop!" Were two things I said to myself often, and I"d even talk to my cousin on the ride home on the bus about it. Sometimes it is hard to believe these days are gone, but you know, they are... They are long gone.

Although a lot of my memories of that house are from games or TV, it was actually a lot more than that. Again, this was the place where I grew up and spent most of my time. It was a place where I was leading up to holidays, where I was over Christmas vacation, where I spent my summer nights after going swimming at my grandparent's house during the day, and it's where I was for many of the major events in my life. It was a huge part of me, and I still think back on the day we were forced to leave it. As it was a place of work, we didn't control how long we were there for... Things happened, and we had no choice but to step away. Before long I was on the outside, slowly watching as the new owners changed everything I had once known and loved. The nice deck in the back was gone in no time, the old shack of a garage was torn down, windows were busted out, and inside as I drove by I could see the once nice walls being painted pure black. From what I could see on the outside, the home I once knew and loved was slowly slipping away, and it would never be the same again. Sadly shortly after the move one of the ladies who lived there passed away, and the other was sent to live in a new home. We did get to keep whatever we had bought ourselves, but the rest of the home's furniture was shipped away as well. Everything that made it what it was, was gone, and I knew things would never be the same. Of course, with it still being there, there was always hope. Maybe someday I could get it back... Those who bought it couldn't stay there forever, right? Yeah... I just didn't know it would burn.

Even though I no longer lived there, and have been gone for quite some time, thinking about the place going up in flames just sickens me -- especially considering someone did it on purpose. This was no freak fire, someone went to this house, and lit it up because they wanted to. All I can hope is that they find whoever did this, and they get put away for a long time... At least the outer walls are still standing, but it's only a matter of time before it is torn to the ground.

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