Monday, January 18, 2016

31 Days: Most Memorable Gift

31 Days of Writing Prompts: What is the most memorable gift you have received?

i feel like this one is supposed to be a setup along the lines of, like, talking about something huge and meaningful or a life lesson you learned that was a "gift"...but for me, nah. my most memorable gift was a playstation.

my parents divorced a week after my 12th birthday, and within the year they'd gone their separate ways. this involved my father moving out, and my sister and i spending (i think) every other weekend with him in kingston. remember what i was saying in the last blog post about never being allowed to have a video game system of my own? whether it was post-divorce guilt or just trying to keep me happy and occupied, two weekend a month, my father would rent me a video game system and two games from blockbuster. yep, just a rental. i'm not sure if maybe my mother told him not to outright buy one for me, or maybe he thought it was more cost-effective to rent one (i barely remember but i think it was like $20 for the weekend and games were $5 each), but either way, having my choice of game system - usually a playstation, sometimes a sega saturn because this was 1996 - made the weekends away in a different household more fun and less awkward.

fast forward to christmas in 2000. a lot has changed -- both my parents are in new relationships and have moved house, my father heading out to his new wife's home in the country and my mother and her boyfriend moving in together in kingston (with all of us kids in tow). i'm seventeen, and doing the usual christmas tradition in our split household: christmas eve dinner and gifts at my dad and stepmom's, christmas morning gifts and brunch/dinner at my mom's. it seemed like a christmas eve not out of the ordinary at my dad's, but after my sister and i were done unwrapping our presents, my dad said to me, "i think there might be one more present upstairs for you."

mystified, i headed upstairs to the rec room and found a playstation of my very own.

honestly, i'm pretty sure i shrieked. i had not been expecting to ever own one myself. not only that, but it was a complete and total surprise, and that's why it's likely my most memorable gift -- because it was a big-ticket item (growing up in a solidly middle-class income family, we could maybe ask for a high-price thing for christmas, but it wasn't a guarantee that we'd get it, and stuff like computers and video games were out of the question) and because i absolutely wasn't expecting it. to this day, it's honestly one of the only christmas gifts i can ever vividly remember.

suffice to say, i loved that goddamn thing. i played it every time i was at my dad's. i put video game stickers all over it. i even paid to get it mod chipped so i could play imported games from japan. but i didn't take it with me to university, because i didn't even own a television at that point, and i think that's where my interest in video games waned. years later, i would bring it back to toronto with me with the intent to play once in a while, and i still have it here, packed away in my closet because i'm not if it works now (it was on the floor during an unfortunate flooding incident back in 2009).

with all that history, it's kind of strange that i'm not super into playing video games any more. i actually own a playstation 3 now - it used to be sean's, but he let me take ownership of it when he upgraded to a playstation 4 last year - but i haven't even touched it. these days, i'm more into watching sean play - another gamer for life, he's very good at them - while i drink wine and occasionally help him solve puzzles. every now and then he'll toss me the controller when he goes to take a bathroom break, and i'll fling it away like it's made out of spiders.

i don't really know what it is; maybe it's because video games were such a huge part of my life for a long time (think fanpages, fanfics, the whole lot) and now they're not that it weirds me out a bit. maybe i have some odd residual shame about it. regardless, when i think back over the many years of birthday gifts and christmas presents and just-because surprises, that playstation is what stands out the most. it's funny.