The smell of new tatami mats beams into my brain happy memories of a summer long past, playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on the Gamecube and listening to Ween’s Quebec, released mere weeks earlier. The woman who would become Mrs. Epicuzi and I had just moved into our own place, and though the apartment building was 30 years old, the tatami mats were brand new, freshly replaced ones, and our empty home pulsed with their odor. Life was very simple then, and I would sprawl out in the barren living room and play FF:CC on a shitty little TV that my wife owned, pumping Quebec on a pair of computer speakers with my drink resting on the cardboard box that would serve as our dinner table until we began accumulating shit and complicating our lives beyond belief.
Going to the Conan home center always reminds me of this time, because the third floor reeks of new tatamis for sale. I was there yesterday, chasing after my son in a lazy game of tag (no running!), smelling the tatamis as we rushed down the aisles. The third floor windows of the Conan store are frosted in a way that you cannot see what’s on the other side, but sunlight positively floods through them. The white floor and white aisles in the radiant light of the last day of summer, chasing my son down the seemingly endless corridor, and smelling that tatami made me think that I may just be in heaven, or at least a sweet enough place to spend eternity. I could have been chasing him for 50 years, and only if the light failed would we have stopped to think about how long we had actually been at it. But the sun did set on this fabulous summer vacation, as it always must, and I find myself back in the grips of work and despair, and nerves and sobriety, and longing for the sweet smell of tatami mats upon which I may lay my weary, unwilling body, close my eyes, and let the river of life’s worries wash over me downstream, ignoring me completely as I forgetfully smile at it.
Phew. Getting a bit melancholy there. I know that it’s hard to feel sympathy for someone who just had a whole fucking month off from work and boo hoo, but god damn it, to feel alive again and have that suddenly ripped from.. oh right. Well, one thing I was able to do with the wealth of time was get down with some games. Dragon Quest X kicked off the summer, and we enjoyed our time in that world until the 20 free days were up. I was so out of money by the time that happened that not only did I not buy another month’s worth of online time, but I had to give up drinking. After that, I figured it was about time to wrap up Final Fantasy XIII once and for all, so I finished all the side quests I thought worth completing before the final battle. My son and I took up the Wind Waker, too, determined to finish that son of a bitch off, and after a day of collecting treasure maps and Triforce fragments from the sea, we came face to face with the king of all thieves and bastards himself, and beat him on the first go. Later that day I finished FFXIII.
I was so pleased that I finally made it through that game. I was getting worried that it may never happen due to its length, difficulty, all the other games about, and simple bad luck, but I did it. My son was more elated by the last battle of Wind Waker, and recounts it every chance he gets, going into detail about what forms the last boss took and the weapons that were used to bring him down. The next day, we began Zelda: Twilight Princess, which he has been looking forward to for a long time. Unfortunately, they are Wii controls, and they are extremely complicated for a four-year old. You wouldn’t think so, swinging the remote and such to slash with the sword, but for anything that involves aiming at the TV, it can be tough, and the movements are probably much more precise than even coloring within the lines of an activity book. Going to have to bust out some Hajimete no Wii to get him accustomed to motion controls. After all, I bought Hajimete no Wii on the same day as Twilight Princess. The Wii, too, for that matter.
I considered finishing off Final Fantasy IX this summer, too, since I started that game like, oh, fucking five years ago? However, it would have involved busting out the PS1 and the PS1 controllers, and I just couldn’t bring myself to haul any more systems out after bringing the Mega Drive (aka Genesis) back into the light of day and teaching Guy a thing or two about Ghouls, Ghosts, and Hedgehogs. I did discover another accessory that I need, however, and that is a PS memory card converter which will stick in my PS3 and let me load my FFIX game and all other PS1 games on that. At least that’s what I imagine it will do. Costs about $15, so it had sure better. I do know that my PS3 plays PS1 games, and that I could make a brand new save file on the HDD, but.. uh, no thank you. Not yet.
Finally, to wrap this up and get on with life, we’re back in Skyrim and I bought the Orange Box for the PS3 because it was $20 and I miss the shit out of that game. Love me some Half Life, love me some Portal. Now all I need is half a lifetime to play it all.