Normality

 

I’ve started writing again. That’s been one of the changes. Last weekend I told myself to sit down and write for an hour. And not to write something new, but to continue on something I already started.

I did. Then carried on for 20 minutes on the Monday night. And then I did another hour today.

For a bit I’ve felt empty, like I’ve run out of things to say, at least on social media. And that’s okay, maybe, if I’m writing other things.

Now I am. It’s sci-fi fantasy and involves a compilation of works, but the characters are already twisting the story to what they want, and I’m 5000 words in, so that’s a good sign that they are doing that. I just want to write and write and see what comes out of it. I’m hoping for a solid mess of 200,000 words or so. An epic.

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I love my Zelda games. The Great Cataclysm could be about 10 different events in the Legend of Zelda games.

The other night I decided to buy face moisturiser. I’ve rarely used it, and I’ve failed to see the need to put more chemicals in my body. But my budget allows me to buy something for hygiene each week, and I wasn’t really needing much food, so I decided to get it.

I tried it yesterday. My face stung a bit like it was sunburned, and then in the evening, something happened.

On the side of my face, next to my right eye, was a white spot. It became noticeable near the end of my Peru trip, and it was a sure sign of my age. I’ve been troubled by it more, and I’ve been touching it a lot, when I’m thinking.

Anyway, the white spot fell off after using the moisturiser.

 

The same night I went shopping, I bought a muffin tin for apple and cinnamon muffins I’m going to bake for my colleagues tomorrow, at Woolworths, and a work shirt from a clothes store. There’s a cute girl who works there, and I know she’s friendly because it helps her sell clothes, but her interest does seem genuine, like she wants to talk. I joined up a membership the last time we spoke, and she got my birth date, and she seemed so surprised. “That’s my age!” she said.

This time around, we talked about life, and our car troubles, and how she was borrowing her parents’ car. And then she dropped in, “I had to pick my son up.” And I hope I hid my surprise, and I hope it didn’t mean I failed some sort of test.

Girls used to drop in “my boyfriend and I” into the conversation somewhere, if there showed some attraction from either us. Then it got more subtle, and more of the usage of “we” when she did something or went somewhere.

But since coming back to Australia, the women my age who are single also happen to be mothers, and they mention their child. I guess it doesn’t bother me, I don’t want kids for a while, but I suppose then there’s a fear that I need to know exactly what I want. I need to know if I’m going to integrate into another family’s life, and if I don’t, then I should stay out. The time for certainty is now. Or before, perhaps. I’m unsure about when the certainty needs to come into play.

 

I was driving this afternoon for a short while, and even though the car is still making odd noises, after I took it to the mechanic – who discovered a wrecked head gasket – I feel happy, like I’m getting ahead. I live in a nice place, and I’m able to save a bit of each pay. It wasn’t obvious at first, but my work is paying off for me, financially.

Last night I went to Dan Murphy’s, where there was a Chilean brand of wine I liked to drink in Peru, called Casillero del Diablo. I swear it wasn’t as good when I drank the bottle last night, but I still had a good time. There were times I was holed up in my room in Peru, and I’d drink a bottle, and reach out to everyone I could think of.

I tried not to do that this time.

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Let’s say¬† there is a map with life, all with its big battles. You can take on these battles in any order, and travel any direction. You can find the tools to help you, and the tool you find in the dark time might exactly be what you need for that battle. Maybe. Or maybe I just needed an excuse to use another Zelda pic cause I have nothing else.

I’m working on getting more clothes. Most of the shirts I wear to work were the best shirts I couldn’t bear to throw away when I left for overseas. They were for races and rodeos, and so are a bit expensive to wear out. A pink shirt I wore to work for years, before continuing to wear in Peru, is getting shabby and sun worn. I threw it out today.

It’s funny. Things. You get attached to them.

 

I went to the races with a work friend last weekend. It was the first races I had been to since before Peru. We got drunk slowly and gambled on horses, and I won the first race at odds of 7/1. We met a couple who recently moved to the area, and they met in Iceland. He was Australian but lived in various places overseas for four years, and she was from the Czech Republic. It was a long story but after a year of being friends, they tried to make it work, and she moved to Australia. But all the loopholes they have to jump through, the stress, the difficulty, it seemed to me like it was hard.

And to me, the longer I was with them, the more I felt an underlining tension.

 

Work is okay. I’m finding ways to be more efficient and reduce my anxiety. One good way I found was to try to reduce my talking to everyone, and just work quietly. I don’t need to have a presence, or know everything, or have an opinion about what’s going on.

And I’ve found, by doing that, that I worry less about if I’ve said something wrong, or not doing the right thing.

Another thing I did was I bought a news subscription. When I wake up for work (at 7am, formerly at 7.40am) I switch on the TV to ABC, and then read my news subscription’s email which is sent every morning. It gives me the highlights. By the time I come to work, and I have a news meeting, I feel mentally prepared to know what the agenda of the day is. I’m not spending an hour or two trying to play catch up.

 

I love a good Zelda game. Nintendo released a classic from 1992. A Link to the Past. Geez, it’s good. And hard. And brings in the best elements of legit Zelda gameplay.

 

I guess I’m starting to feel like I’m not playing catch up.

I’m beginning to feel how I used to feel.

 

Arriba Hyrule!

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Just before my seven-year-old goddaughter’s birthday, I bought a Nintendo Switch. It’s my second Switch, but my first one is in a box in Australia.

I haven’t played it for 18 months. I haven’t played any video game console since Mario and Rabbids, the night before my flight from Brisbane to Lima, via Auckland and Santiago.

Video games are my hobby, my way to relax and step back from the world. Since living in Peru I’ve never really had my own hobby and I don’t believe Netflix counts. My job was my hobby and I used all my spare time to channel my energy into research. That’s useful until you can’t manage pleasant replies to the people who surround you.

Last year when I was stressed, I played an old game on the internet called Runescape, and it helped for a while, but it wasn’t quite the same because of the limitation on graphics, and because it was the one game.

I’d been toying with buying a Switch for a while but I hadn’t because I’m returning to Australia soon. I have my Switch in Australia. But I’m also in Peru! It felt to me that I shouldn’t need a console while I’m travelling overseas.

Here is the problem. And it’s a mental health problem. For almost 18 months I have lived in a foreign country in a foreign continent, with a foreign language. I have lived. I have worked in a real job. I have immersed myself in it, but I haven’t quite fit into the immersion. Yet in my mentality I still see myself as travelling. I need a safe hobby!

I worried that maybe I would stay in a room playing games, or only remember Peru through playing games, instead of visiting cool places. Yet I’ve seen so much, and in a way, I’m tired. I’ve covered more than 5000 kilometres in the last month, and not by air.

Video consoles are far more expensive here, even taking into account the price exchange. It didn’t seem right to spend so much money on a luxury. I thought that by not buying it, I would show maturity compared to a year ago, when I wasted my first pay check.

Yet I bought the console because for a while I wanted to show it to my girlfriend. I wanted her to see a part of myself. I wanted to share with her my love for Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and I wanted us to do something together that I enjoyed.

I gave in, finally after more than a month of contemplating it. I thought in the taxi while holding the console box that I would feel a surge of buyers remorse. I didn’t. I was excited. I thought then I would feel it when we set it up, turned on the TV, and saw the load screen. I didn’t. In fact, I’ve found that I can upload for free all the games I’ve bought online more than 18 months ago. I have one account, but two Nintendos. I can share my games across, and my expansion packs for Zelda, which I bought but never used because I moved to Peru. That is a pleasant surprise.

My girlfriend hasn’t played video games before, and it has been a joy, but a test of my patience, to watch her learn how to figure out the basic movements of controls. I’ve fought the urge to just take the controller off her when she doesn’t do things as fast as I’d like, and just let go and relaxed. I’ve watched her learn to ride a virtual horse. Just like in real life,they don’t seem to like her.

She used to throw me the controller when the monsters come out to attack her. Then she killed them when I was in the bathroom. Now she kills the monsters on her own. I am proud.

Legend of Zelda is an immersive world, with its own rules and ways to figure out how to interact with the world around you. And she often has ideas that I wouldn’t have figured out on my own. “Could you throw an apple to catch that horse?” she suggested after the first hour in the game, and my first reaction was “that’s dumb” and I realised, ‘wait. Is it?’ We tried it and it didn’t quite work out.

“Could you shoot fire at that honey to scare away the bees?” she suggested, and I thought, ‘hey, let’s give it a go’, but it also burned away the honey. Yesterday she helped me solve a puzzle involving throwing rocks off a bridge, that I never figured out on my own.

I wish I could play the game for the first time again, but with her I guess I am.

We’ve put the Nintendo on Spanish mode. It’s helping me, although she’s doing a lot of translation. New words I’ve acquired include ‘anciano’ (old man), ‘seta’ (mushroom), and ‘espada’ (sword).