What Summers Taught Me

Image via Pixabay

I lived most of my life in a little town by the sea. It is the place where my father was born; one of the few places remaining on Earth today where you can still sleep at night with the doors unlocked. Where the middle-aged of the neighborhood huddle around outside the common street in front of their houses, talking in hushed voices about the latest scandal in-between sips of Stygian black coffee. Where ninety percent of the people still don’t have their own cars, so the air is mostly smoke-free and the roads mostly silent.

One thing I remember about Summer in this quaint, cozy place is the crowing of the rooster in the very early morning — and ignoring it. School’s out, and I can pretty much sleep in for as long as I like. But then I’d remember that my cousins from the city are arriving for their yearly vacation, and I’d remember that they were bringing with them this newfangled video game machine called a “Play Station One,” that promised hours of entertainment. I had a cheap SNES knockoff given to me by my father as a gift and I love him for it, but I have witnessed what a Play Station One can do (a neighbor had one and naturally he wouldn’t let me play, just watch).

“Finally,” I thought to myself, “I can experience the magical world of the Play Station One.” But then I’d get really nervous because what if the controls are too much for me? If I remember correctly the Play Station One controllers had… about ten buttons, plus the D-Pad? It’s so overwhelming! What would I use to dodge? What would I use to swing my sword? What would I use to dodge and swing simultaneously? I feared that I wouldn’t do Brave Fencer Musashi the most impressively dexterous gameplay his 3D world only deserved.

It turned out that my cousins didn’t have Brave Fencer Musashi, after all. What they did have was Tekken 3 — and I swept the floor with Eddy, button-mashing X-O-X-O until suns exploded and they called me out for using an obviously “imbalanced” character. We officially agreed that we should ban Eddy; no one must use this smug, Capoeira-dancing idol-that-somehow-got-into-a-fighting-tournament-to-the-death, ever again.

We eventually grew up and got tired of playing video games. Some fell in love, some had girlfriends, one got into a band, one had children, and one learned Japanese and entered a sort of Japanese speech competition — and promptly won first place despite being not a native speaker. It’s kind of funny how I rarely talk with my cousins anymore. Some of them still visit every Summer, but I guess growing so much apart gave us less and less things to talk about. We couldn’t talk about Eddy any more, obviously.

But you know, Summers also remind me of Summer itself. Of seaspray and golden sun. Of warblers peddling their songs in the morning air.

I guess I have to get used to the fact that every year Summer would bring back memories of a much simpler time, just to remind me in its own, special way that hey,

This much has changed.

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