I’ve been running into many things online and around the house that are reminding me of some of my favorite memories (or rather things attached to memories) from Alabama. These things don’t even have anything to do with Alabama itself. They’re just reminders of that time. The years I spent in the States were pretty much the ones where my hobbies and interests kind of developed properly after leaving Ukraine (because they had a chance to). Here are the top
five (now six!) nostalgia triggers that I can remember (in no particular order):
Prey by Michael Crichton
This book was recommended to me by my friend Olga, one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, during one of our sleepovers in Alabama. Being awesome, she introduced me to many great things. One of them was Prey. I became totally enthralled in this book about nanotechnology gone wrong and must have reread it four or five times now. It is always the first book on my shelf.
I sunk a considerable amount of my life back then into Neopets - a browser based pet game where you adopt and train pets. Some people liked Neopets for the mini games, some liked it for the economy and shops, I liked it for the Battledome. I trained my pets to fight other players' pets and ran a Battledome guild (Olga again reappears here as the second in command) - Battlewinners (yes, seriously). At one point I declared war on another Battledome-focused guild named Battledome Forces. I’m not even sure why I instigated this guild war (I think I just wanted to shake things up a little), but it lasted for-fricking-ever. Highlights included:
Olga’s pet Katrina being our “flagship” fighter. We made a fight song for her and put it on the Battlewinners website (hosted on Geocities, of course)
Mocking each other’s guilds privately and in public
The opposing guild’s owner’s older cousin jumping ship and joining our guild to fight by our side. He became a spy for us, pretending to go back to the other guild and secretly reporting back to us
The same cousin introducing me to Linkin Park, which ended up being my first CD
Espionage. A spy making it into our midst, pressuring me to make him an officer, and deleting all of my guild members. This was the most intense, angry, destroyed 24-48 hours of my 12-or-so year old self’s life.
All of the kicked members and more rejoining the guild over the next week
My learning not to be so stupid and it clicking in my head that when people try to pressure you into giving them privileges, it’s usually not with good intentions (thanks, Neopets!)
Battledome Forces being deleted because the owner got bored with the war
Us making victory flags in MS Paint and putting them on the guild page
Battlewinners being deleted because I got bored without the war
This happened 11 years ago. I know because my profile is still there with an 11-year shield on it:
I think everyone must have that song that they loved years ago and then somehow forgot. I’ve been trying to find that song for what feels like forever, on and off. I couldn’t remember the lyrics, just the feel. A few days ago I bought Watch Out by Alexisonfire and had one of those moments where it’s playing in the background while you’re killing zombies in Diablo 3 and then this song comes on and you freeze, drop everything you’re doing, and realize that this is it. This is the song I’ve been looking for (it was also the last tick in the collection that triggered this post):
Deider was a 20-something year old Polish Arabian gelding who was stabled at the horse farm where I worked. He was old, but feisty (and grumpy). Deider refused to let anyone ride him until the trainer decided to try me on him because I was so light (he was old and was a pretty small horse even by Arabian standards, so my size and weight seemed to suit). I guess the weight thing worked because Deider didn’t try to throw me off. From then on he was pretty much the only horse I rode at that farm. What started as a somewhat frustrating relationship where Deider would get spooked when being groomed and run away when I tried to collect him from the pasture ended in my being able to pick at his ears to clean them (horses are sensitive about ears) and him trotting up to me from the other side of the pasture when he saw me coming. Deider was the only horse that I ever won a blue ribbon in a show with and it was the best feeling ever - not even because I came first, but because we did it together. It wouldn’t have been the same if it was any other horse. Even though he was 20 and had been out in the pasture for years before this he obviously still had it in him!
I was at the farm when I got the news that we were moving to Australia. The first thing I did was run crying into Deider’s stall. He walked up to me, put his head on my shoulder, and stayed there quietly for what felt like the saddest but calmest 15 minutes of my life.
Warcraft II was one of the first PC games I played and definitely the most memorable from those years. After moving to the US it was either this or Age of Empires II that came first, but WC2 is the one that stands out the most. Even though I only have vague memories of it now I still clearly remember the feel of the world, the ships, the snow, the little trees. Wacraft II was the game where I kind of had the realization that “Wait a second…Someone has to have made this. How?” I need to play this again.
Bonus! Moonkittens and werewolves
I just remembered this one. And darn it I keep remembering more stuff. I may need to keep editing this.
Collaboratively writing Moonkittens…IN SPACE! with Olga at my house and a werewolf story with Jill in her basement. We took turns, paragraph by paragraph I think. Also writing a story about Furbies taking over the world from a closet (as in them staging the takeover from a closet, not me writing from a closet). I _think _I did that one on my own; none of my friends would’ve wanted to be associated with that embarrassment.