August 10, 2008
I got my college degree one year ago today.
This is it?
I got my college degree one year ago today.
This is it?
The other day I was talking about something from my early childhood – I don’t remember what it was – and I absentmindedly added, “Yeah, that was probably 20 years ago.” Twenty years.
It feels weird to be able to vividly remember something that happened 20 years ago. I was at my cousins’, watching in terrified awe as they jumped from the third step of their staircase to the carpet miles below. I was sitting on the back of Mom’s bike, soaring through the Duck Creek Greenbelt in the early morning with the lingering taste of Raisin Bran still on my lips. I was filling a lapse between Super Mario Bros. and Gyromite by watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was living on Sycamore in Garland, falling asleep in my firetruck bunk bed to Dad gently singing House at Pooh Corner.
Twenty years ago.
I don’t feel like I have twenty years’ worth of memories to pull from. But, I can’t think of another span of time that sounds more appropriate. It just feels strange to have my conscious existence summed up so concisely. To me, it wasn’t twenty years ago, it was at the beginning. The beginning of me. The beginning of everything.
That period in my life doesn’t move, but it keeps getting further away. I will always have been four years old in March 1988, but not so long ago that was 15 years ago. Not so long ago, it was 10 years. Not so long ago, it was last week.
I can still taste the Raisin Bran.
There comes a point in every young man’s life when he looks in the mirror and suddenly the face looking back at him isn’t a child’s. The face he finds himself staring into is that of maturity and adulthood. The face of a man.
Or so they tell me.
Yesterday was my half-birthday. My birthday being on August 12th, February 12th would mark me being exactly half-way between birthdays.
I had planned on making a post on the actual birthday to celebrate, but it completely slipped my mind. It was such a monumental occasion, though, that I figured a belated Happy Half-Birthday to myself is better than nothing.
My aging mind is failing me.
With all the hype that I myself piled on my impending graduation, and all that I had to say about it in the months leading up to it, now that it’s passed, I’m at a loss for words.
“How does it feel to be a graduate?” they ask me. “Uhh…” “Umm….” or “Well…” are my usual responses. It doesn’t really feel all that different at all. It’s a nice relief to have it done and behind me, but since I was only taking one Summer class leading up to graduation, it’s really not all that different right now. Come mid-September, that will probably change.
In the meantime, though, I’m just kind of living life the same as I have been for some time now. It is nice to not have another semester looming over my head. Though the future is getting foggier and hazier. My main goal for so long has been to finally finish school, so now that school’s over, my goals and plans are becoming more insubstantial and indefinable. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. It just means that I’ll need to be more intentional in my day-to-day efforts in being productive and moving forward with life.
It’s easy to just keep signing up for classes, working through a previously structured degree program. It’s not so easy afterwards to really work towards a higher goal. Or, as in my case, to figure out what that higher goal actually is. Oh well. I’ve got time to figure it out, I guess. I just don’t want to stay in this state of limbo for very long. It’s kind of disconcerting.
I feel kind of like how Inigo Montoya must have felt after he killed Count Rugen in the Princess Bride.
Maybe I should consider piracy.
Well, it finally happened. Last night, after nearly 38 hours spread out over two months, I beat The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. And I was sad.
Beating a Zelda game is always a bittersweet experience for me. It’s kind of like finishing a great book. There’s a sense of accomplishment and closure, but at the same time you’re disappointed that what you’ve spent dozens of hours working through is finally done. The journey is through. There’s nothing left.
This is magnified for me in the case of The Legend of Zelda, because playing a Zelda game is quite honestly a nearly-religious experience for me. I anticipate it for months or even years, waiting for it’s release. I study it’s progression through interviews and articles. All the while, I fondly reminisce about the first Zelda games and the impact that they had on my childhood, hoping that the latest entry will somehow recapture some of that magic. Because, frankly, the most rewarding, mysterious, and bilssful childhood escapism of my early years came through the Zelda games, and the world that they exposed me to.
So, playing a Zelda game today is partially an attempt to somehow reconnect with the innocent, imaginative world of my idealized childhood. And though I am always able to do that to a certain degree, it is not nearly to the level that I would have hoped. There are certain themes, characters, locations, or melodies in each chapter of the Legend of Zelda that capture my imagination and reawaken that childhood joy for an instant. However, I always go into a new Zelda game with the foolish hope that it might somehow fully recapture the imagination and joy that I experienced 15 years ago. And it never does. Though the Zelda series has arguably been the most consistently excellent series in the history of video games, each subsequent release since the mid-1990s has left me slightly disappointed. It’s not that the games have lost the magic. I’ve grown up.
So, last night was bittersweet. The final battle was gripping and epic, the ending was emotional and cinematic, but I put the controller down as a 23-year-old man, not as the 10-year-old boy I had hoped to become a little bit reacquainted with.
I’ll try again in 4 years.