This isn't a Christmas story; bad things happen here. So if you're looking for some holiday cheer, I'm sure you'll be able to find it.. But good things also happen, and it is a story gamers should be familiar with: The light of friendship fighting back against overwhelming darkness. Its also the story of how and why my life changed for the better, and how Playstation lent a helping hand.
Back in '97 I had a very important decision to make - buy a new console from Sony or from their competitor. And this was a important decision. I had battled depression for most of my life, and video games have always been a great help. I had been playing games on that other company's consoles since I was a little kid, but I had a good feeling about Sony. Turned out to be a good decision, since Playstation would soon surpass its competitors and would have so many of the greatest franchises and games on their consoles! I was also saving up to move into my first apartment around this time. I was a poor student, and I didn't make much money, but eventually I was able to save enough for both goals: I got my playstation and moved into my first place!
It felt great being out on my own, responsible for myself and making my own decisions! Sure, the apartment was tiny, and the neighborhood was once featured on a episode of "Cops" but I didn't care. I was young and naive enough to believe that I was invincible. I still had problems, but being able to play in Crash Bandicoot's crazy world, or gliding around as Spyro on my Playstation at the end of a long day made it all worth it. Time flew by. I studied and worked hard, and life was, for the most part, good. I would soon learn that moving into that place would turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes of my life. Or so I thought.
They broke in in the middle of the night, while I was asleep. I remember hearing a noise that woke me, and that's it. I was told later that I was probably awake for some of the beating the robbers gave me, but I don't remember it. Some of my neighbors were home, but they claimed they didn't see anything. An unlikely claim, since the thieves had cleaned out my entire apartment. Everything was gone: My clothes, TV, music collection, games....EVERYTHING! A friend found me the morning after the break-in and called 911, but I wasn't awake for that either. When I woke in the hospital a day later and was told what happened, I was devastated. I've had to work my butt off for everything I have ever owned, and now it was all gone.
That event drove me over the edge, and honestly, I was scared. Probably lucky to be alive. But I didn't feel lucky. I fell into a deep depression. Everything I had worked so hard for was gone, and I didn't see the point of rebuilding if it could all be taken away so quickly. Along with all of my worldly possessions, the robbers had taken my sense of security and at least some of my sanity that night.
I spent two weeks in the hospital. When I got out, a good friend took me in, away from that place that had cost me everything. She helped me without a second thought, even though I was so depressed I wasn't interested in helping myself anymore. When I asked her why, why she was going through so much trouble to help me even though I didn't care anymore, she would say "Because its what Tifa would do for Cloud!" I didn't understand this comment, and thought a vague video game joke was a little irritating considering I had lost my treasured Playstation along with everything else. But maybe it wasn't a joke, she's a big Final Fantasy fan.
I kept working and going to school, so that I could get back on my feet and move out of my friend's place, even though she made it clear that there was no rush. But my heart wasn't in it. I was just going through the motions so I wouldn't disappoint her. She was pretty much the only thing I cared about. I wasn't even playing games anymore, when they were the one thing that used to always cheer me up.
But her friendship was more than enough. She saw through my act, and refused to give up on me. She even convinced me to start gaming again by introducing me to Final Fantasy VII. Experiencing the wondrous and tragic adventures of Cloud, Tifa and company made me realize that I could pick myself up and fight back against the darkness, even when all seems hopeless.
I realized that Cloud and Tifa were fighting for their friends in the same way that my friend was fighting for me, and finally understood her comment about Tifa helping Cloud. When you have a good friend at your side, like I do, there is always hope. That lesson changed my life. The depression that had plagued me for my entire life, and especially at that point, was gone, and it never returned. I'll always be grateful to my friend for that (And her Playstation).
I now volunteer in that same neighborhood that I was robbed in. I am no longer afraid of that place. Armed with the knowledge that there are many people who will never give up on each other, I see nothing but a bright future for that neighborhood and for myself.
Thanks YoruAzeniaSIC, I'm glad you liked it!
Whether I win or not, I'm happy I was able to share this story. What this really taught me is that friendship is more important than possessions, and games are every bit as inspiring as literature, movies and art, and are even better when you have someone to share them with.