meandering creativity, symbols and emotion

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Final Fantasy Can Save Your Marriage!

I've come to realize over the past three or four years that I don't travel all that well. Or as Lara tells it - I get grumpy.

My mother actually owned a travel agency so my family used to fly several times a year. As a result I was pretty good at it. I could easily navigate whatever airport I was in - I knew what to wear and say. If I wore a suit and flashed a travel agency business card at the gate I could sometimes get a free upgrade. They still card you in first class but you still feel like ninja sipping orange juice instead of a screwdriver.

It was harder with the entire family. My parents, brother and I didn't really get on that well but the territory was familiar. We all knew where to go and what to do.
And when you're sixteen what problem cannot be solved by headphones and Led Zeppelin?
In recent memory, marriage has presented the biggest complication. And sadly Zeppelin doesn't help.

The problem is Lara travels different than me: she navigates the airports in her rhythm, she cares where I park, she wants to eat when I want to go to the gate, her bladder is out of sync with mine. It's a nightmare; the person I married is a completely different entity from me!

And if that wasn't enough of a problem. I'm no longer a free agent. I can't just zone out with some Zep because I actually care. I find myself worrying about her. Is Lara comfortable? Does she need anything? If the floor of the airplane falls out mid flight will I be able to reach over to rescue her in time to save her from death? (For the last question I have a system worked out so the answer is "most likely".)

Nevertheless it stresses me out and I become a grump. We joke about it because I am okay with owning my grumpiness and she's okay with not being offended. But Lara loves to travel and I love to not be grumpy.

Our solution has two parts - the first is simple: we book seats on different rows. It sounds weird but it makes sense. Lara gets airsick which means she is most comfortable with a window. This generally leaves me grumpy in the middle seat. So we don't sit by each other. It's not very romantic and might prevent my rescuing her if the floor falls out, but we agree being grumpy is more unromantic and Lara can rescue herself.

Even when we sat by each other we did our own thing. And if we had children this would probably be happening already so it works. I must admit I stole the idea from my friend Laura who figured it out early on with her husband.

I did not steal the second part of our solution. In fact it is throwback to Zeppelin on my Sony Walkman. Except now it's Final Fantasy VII and VII on my Sony Playstation Portable. I had a PSP back in 2004 and was so bored with the games I sold it. When I heard that Sony was releasing the Final Fantasy games on their Playstation network I got back in the game.

I craiglisted a used game system and downloaded Cloud and Squall immediately! It's not perfect but it is wonderful. The games are thirteen years old and have aged like you might imagine but work well enough for a three hour flight.
I cancel out the noise with my headphones and get sucked into the grinding sublimity that is the heart of Final Fantasy.

I get off the plane in a great mood. Having my own seat and going back in time with Final Fantasy makes me more interested in the real life adventure Lara and I are beginning or ending.

And let's say, American Airlines has a database glitch and are unable to print your boarding pass. They don't let you on the plane, they close the doors in your face, they are extremely rude to you. And it's the day after Christmas!

When this happens Final Fantasy VIII, with its well document flaws, can be a lighthouse. It can keep you from becoming that seething ball of profanities bent on scarring children still recovering from pre-Christmas sleep deprivation and post-Christmas euphoria.

In its way, the game reminds you databases fail, middle managers are impotent and we panic when plans change but a comfortable chair and a few random battles can save the day.

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