Thursday, August 15, 2013

$40 & a Fire

I bought $40 worth of commons and uncommons at a yard sale just over a month ago. I bought them mostly blind: the yard sale was being done by a lifelong geek and the opportunity to purchase neat things brought out rabid (albeit very polite) collectors of all things nerdy, weird and awesome.

I didn't know the man, I just knew that he was selling his stuff to pay for a trip to the NY Comic Con.

When I saw him though, I understood the truth of things. This person was sick, really, really sick. The kind of illness that doesn't go away and ought to have you in a hospital most of the time. The kind that reminds you that life is finite.

So I didn't bother to sort through the cards, or haggle, or feed that little monster inside me that says "Gimmie!" when it comes to Magic cards. I wanted to. I had to shake it off, because this dude was going to go on a last hurrah somewhere and enjoy himself. It was crowded and a bit intense in there as this person witnessed his very belongings being sold off: what is the point of feeding my own monster when this person is looking at the Reaper? Fuck that. 

Let him have the $40 and get a fuckton of whatever comforts him with it. At the end, both transactions were just about dead trees and he was alive to enjoy the uses of them. Go, do.

Three days ago Jason left a message, told me his apartment burnt down, he was headed to a hotel and his phone was about to die.

Fuckin' a, man. He was alive, clearly, but I had no idea what he'd lost. He's been playing Magic for nearly as long as I have and certainly has a collection to rival mine, with a brain that has always seemed to capture the best and weirdest of griefer deck building and cards that cannot be replaced. I began to look to the extra cards I owned, thinking about ways I could help him rebuild what he had lost. He lives in Seattle and doesn't have a lot of friends or any family around, so I worry about him anyway. Trying to replace his Magic collection-just a little bit-was a way of trying to help. Weird as that may sound.

When I talked to him the next day, I found out it wasn't so bad. The place he was living in is unlivable now but aside from having to replace his clothing due to smoke damage, his stuff was still intact. The Red Cross is putting him up in a hotel for 30 days so he can find new housing.

Still, he was in a daze, and I could tell. "This is the first time in my life I've been homeless, man," he said to me, his voice still detached from the insanity and, I'm sure, hopeless quality of it all. If he had been sleepless for the past 24 hours, that would not have surprised me in the least.

Two weeks ago, stonethorn and I talked a little bit about life/work balance while we were at the pub. I was testing the Dirty Deeds deck and the subject came up. Almost immediately we arrived at the spot where we weren't just there to play a game. The game was the tentpole that propped up our chance to hang out.

I play a great many videogames and I'd play a lot more boardgames if I had the opportunity. Hell, I'd play a lot more games, period.

I play them in part because in my working life, I am frequently asked to perform tasks that I do not see the logic behind, thus I consider them to be pointless. I do them but I do not take agency in them. When I play Magic, I have a reason for playing Wild Dogs, even if that reason is 'bad'. I understand why it is the way it is.

But I also play games because they give me an opportunity to hang out. And this is the more important reason. I get to interact with people in a way that can have as much or little meaning as we want, while still allowing us enjoy whatever we get out of it.

The cardboard is just cardboard and it's important to remember that it doesn't play with us, we play with it.

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