21st Century Brontë #11 by Brontë Bettencourt
This is Not Nostalgia
When I initially received Dragon Age Origins in 2009, that world seemed full of in-game possibilities. That was my first time encountering a video game so vast, with roughly 50 hours of gameplay, excluding all of the side quests, six origin stories to choose from, and detailed lore that had to read separate of the gameplay itself. I started off with three separate characters, but I ultimately ended up finishing the game with my female human mage.
That was my canon story: this redhead with a passion for fire magic ascended to the ranks of Grey Warden, and banded together the mages, the dwarves, the Dalish elves and the human nobles.
But the file deleted when I bought a new computer. So I recreated the original play through from scratch. I relearned all the same spells. I romanced the same doofy heartthrob warrior. All quests were completed in the same order.
I moved to Dragon Age 2, created my canon for that game based on the initial playthrough in my rush to reach the third installment (since performance in the prior games affect later games). Then I replayed the second game with the same character, choosing all of the same decisions as before despite having more time to reflect on the story.
I was about to give Inquisition the same treatment when a good friend of mine made an absurd suggestion: to create a different character. The idea of creating an alternate alternate universe where some arbitrary warrior or rogue sided with different factions or romanced other companions left me reeling. It not only went against my canon. It was downright unpredictable.
I had the same reaction when I learned that same friend was pansexual.
Not that I assumed the friend was straight. In fact, I didn’t assume anything in regards to the orientation of someone who let me borrow scented markers. One minute we’re agreeing that chocolate was the best scent, the next we’re discussing sexual orientations. And politics. And other conversations that scented marker-enthusiasts wouldn’t think to have.
I really haven’t felt anything about the passage of time until after I graduated from college. Until that point, my education defined my years. Without school, life has fallen into a routine of work, home, and weekends. The monotony of it.
Returning to my mother’s house felt, oddly, odd. My mother was always at the same three-bedroom house with green accents. Mom stood on the lawn. Then I’d get out, we’d hug.
One day I noticed how small she was in my arms. The formidable paralegal clad in sleek pant suits, hotrod lipstick, and shined heels had gray hairs, face a little more worn.
These observations are terrifying.
I told my kindergarten teacher that I wanted to be a vampire when I grew up. Well here I am at 23 and no closer to that goal. The statement still holds true. I’m still undecided about children, and each passing birthday increases my unease. Three friends that I’ve known since middle school have gotten engaged. A friend who’s my age is having her second child in June. I’m still undecided about my day job.
Where’s one of Anne Rice’s vampires when you need them?
Instead life has transformed into a conveyor belt, events passing me by as I’m propelled into the unknown. Until I finally reach the end, or topple off one of the sides unknowingly. In my social circles I’m the one snapping pictures, but not to capture head on shots complete with strained smiles.
I’m capturing the awkward expressions of mid-conversation, the random gestures, and the genuine smiles. There are a lot of blurred limbs and bodies phasing out of the image, but when I can capture the moment for what it is, then that’s what I hold onto.
I also contribute to 70% of friends’ collages.
While time marches forward, I can commit those treasured moments to memory. I’ve done my job when what is in my head is written on paper. I can read these passages that evoke the same emotional responses in which the writer controls through word choice.
I’m experiencing the same scenes without diminished enjoyment.
If a vampire did offer me the gift of immortality, I’d definitely get a hair cut first.
Brontë Bettencourt (Episode 34) graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors in English Creative Writing. When she’s not writing or working, she is a full time Dungeon Master and Youtube connoisseur.