secret in the tip of the nose

this is a technicolor life.

i've been playing again, only sporadically but for long sessions. all night sessions. i move, fast as a whipshot. i am a hero in a magical universe. all play and no work makes ryan a very.

first, i remember the fall of 1986, afternoons spent at the urdi's house on the edge of the cul-de-sac, at the end of canterbury drive, my neighborhood. the small circle of street made an island of earth, a mound of needles and pine trees weighed down with a dozen big rocks. boulders to us, really. we jumped from one to another. we had the usual basketballs and bicycles for killing time (creating time) outside. tim urdi tortured me, sometimes, but he usually made a good friend, hyperactive drugs and all. the real fun was inside, in the strangely dark den off of the kitchen. built in the mid-'70s, like all of our houses. full of tacky brown plaid furniture, covered in sheets, always bright sheets. the woodstove and slate hearth, an ominous presence in the back of the room. we burned countless hours in that room, leaning back against the sheeted plaid. Mrs. urdi, a friend and coworker to my mother, once served me english-muffin pizzas, but i did not like them at all. sometimes she snapped at us. a grate in the den's ceiling let stoveheat rise up toward chris's bedroom and gave us games to play during sleepovers (yelling up and down). the real action, though, always flickered on the screen of the tv that sat in front of the dim ivy-coated bay window. they had the first games i remember playing: a 2600 with pitfall and atlantis, defender and haunted house. e.t. and combat. tim hogged the nes, when it first came, but i joined in for excitebike and slalom, super mario and gyromite. and i watched countless hours of zelda play, voicing my advice, building a map in my head, cursing the lost woods, climbing into the story, burning bush by bush, wishing i had a den and a nintendo of my own, to create and save my own game. and god, that golden cartridge.

then. the summer of 1990, and man was i older something fierce, too cool for routines, family traditions, tryin' to do my thing, whatever that was. i had an itch to make it a summer for myself, maybe. my own nintendo had been kicking around for a year and a half, played off and on, but usually on. comma. (pause.) i didn't have many games to play because my parents refused to spoil me like that, summer jobs were still years off and my 12-year-old allowance didn't add up so quick. you could always borrow and trade with friends and stores and don't think i didn't, buster. the hell of 7th grade was out (and sure, there were still forts to build), but i had had about enough the previous year of swimming lessons, tennis lessons at the beach club, those long glorious hot summertime days at the beach, on the beach, near the beach, in the club pool, reading in the sun, or giggling on top of the pump house eating grilled cheese and jolly ranchers (with somebody, anybody, my brother). i got sick of it. i stopped letting mom drag me down to the shore, every morning, and I started holding down the home front fort, all alone at 12, setting up the rocking chair directly in front of our big box cabinet television and launching into epic games of zelda, my own boss in the summer morning, top 40 radio on, screen door to the deck half-open to my right. hot and humid. the simple satisfaction of having controller over my own world, slow and steady, occasional breaks for english muffin pizzas (with which i'd recently grown obsessed). i remember the first time i stared down gannon, in the eye of level nine. friends stopping by, mac and cheese, constant kool-aid.

third: spring, 1998, junior year at b.u., apartment 5, 4 price road, allston, massachusetts. for me (an emotional milepost of a season). living with friends, electronic music, new social dynamics. clothes changing, computers changing. emulators like "nesticle". pot-smoke and free starbucks grinds, french-pressed. long walks through boston. five hour walks (displacing schoolwork) for cultural research, people watching. headphoning like crazy, everywhere. and the new frontier becomes unlikely combinations of media: something new. tried everything i could think of. painting portraits only to fatboy slim and muziq cds. guitar tunes improvised on the spot to back network news shows (on a muted tv). sleeping to books on tape, imprinting poetry to paper within the asian art wing of the mfa. but the best, the most enthralling media combination by far was playing zelda on my computer with the game sound off, listening to tortoise, tnt on headphones. all alone in my woodfloored bedroom. hour after hour (on repeat), me enveloped into retreat by the otherworldliness of virtual video and aural arrows, boomerangs, magic wand percussion, the white sword of age 20 years.

and the latest resurgence comes thanks to nester and my 600 nes rom games. all mine, all mine. lots of stuff is mine now. i own things. i am mobile. i enjoy a game of this or that, now and again. i blink. i climb alone into bed every night and just lay still. for an hour, thinking about everynothing, waiting until sleep finds me. eventually i wake up again. continue, save, retry, hunting for some next level.

select me start me