…How A Gray and Black Box Taught Me How to Escape

..I don’t have many happy memories of my father. I can count two..and they both happened on the same day. Like every child, I loved Saturdays. But it wasn’t just the cartoons and bowl of cereal that I looked forward to…it was the trips to Mare Island Naval Base. The days started with shopping for groceries and ended with ice cream. This particular day was different. My father would show me something that I never saw from him before…selflessness. My father always had to have things his way. He needed food on the table at a certain time. When he asked me about my day, he required me to answer a certain way. Being in the military taught my father discipline without compromise and at home we were his soldiers. Don’t get me wrong, I saw selflessness and sacrifice all the time..but it came from my mother. She stayed up late and waited for my father to make sure he had dinner on the table. If we were short on money, she always found a way to make sure something fun was planned on the weekends. But, as we left that ice cream parlor with ice cream filled sugar cones I made a grave mistake. See, once you get your ice cream cone, you can’t be too aggressive with the licking..because one strong lick could knock the ice cream right off the cone. And that’s exactly what happened. So as I stood there with an empty sugar cone watching my pink bubble gum ice cream fall down in slow motion..I prepared for a car ride filled with me crunching a boring sugar cone. But instead of that sad scenario, my father simply handed me his ice cream cone. I never expected that but was eternally grateful. We walked into the Navy Exchange and my father headed towards the electronics section. I followed him and he asked me if I wanted a Nintendo Entertainment System.

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What adolescent kid would say no to that? Again, another unexpected showing from my father. This gray and black box opened a whole new world for me. The moment I pressed power on that machine, I morphed from a overly sensitive boy to a plumber trying to save a princess. One square button helped me leave my troubled home life behind and for those moments I felt peace. This gray and black box kept me in my room, it gave me a way to hide from the constant verbal and physical abuse from my father. How ironic that this gift was from my father…and I used it as a way to cope and escape from the turmoil that filled my household. The sweet sound of Super Mario’s theme music drowned out the constant sound of yelling and fighting. I no longer noticed the crashing of glasses being thrown and tables being knocked over…aliens were attacking and I was Earth’s only hope. It was a gift that my father never knew he gave me…a way to deal with my emotional pain. I’m 33. I’m married and have a four year old daughter…and I still play video games. I’ve had many people question my love of video games and tell me that I am too old to play. But, the reason I play lies deeper than anyone would ever understand.

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