It was, not to put too fine point on it, as close to Nirvana as I'd yet gotten, before I even knew what that word meant. My mind began to consider the possibility that not all surely-dead relatives are created equal, that even the worst pain will pass and that sometimes, the memories of the past can help heal the wounds of the present, and however we cherish those memories, however we preserve them, we're better off for their presence. Mothballs, in other words, can sometimes be a good thing.
The terminal slowly filled to maximum occupancy levels. Mothers, daughters, aunts, uncles, crying babies, gun-toting National Guardsmen, frustrated airline workers and potential terrorists were all cramming as close as they possibly could to where they guessed the line would form once the gate attendants started collecting boarding passes, sharing breath in one of the oldest cities of what was once the melting pot of the world. Most failed to notice that they held "Zone 237" tickets, and would inevitably be in the way of the 200 some-odd passengers ahead of them in line. Either that or they didn't care. Holiday travel tends to send altruism straight out the window.
I made rude comments to myself about the nature of selfishness, completely failing to note the irony as I monopolized the terminal's entire allotment of power plugs by recharging my laptop and GBA simultaneously. I also, I must admit, was barely aware of the hubbub, having spent The Wait escaping into the mothball-scented Land of Mario, via an assortment of GameBoy cartridges assembled from the entire lifespan of the device's various incarnations.
I'd spent the previous weeks visiting every game store within driving distance, asking permission to look through their used GameBoy game cabinet and returning home with bags full of treasures for a song. Each expedition, each venture into each locked cabinet and each triumphant return reminded my mind's nose of the preservative tang of naphthalene, and the postponed joy and borrowed memories made possible through that singularly noxious miracle of science.
That memories of Galveston should also fill my mind during the Christmas holiday (at Logan Airport of all places), is no mere happenstance. Nor is it coincidence that my fondest memories of escape seem always to be tinged with the deepest pains of grieving, and among the most putrid smells imaginable. For as I occupied The Seat, dwindling away the long minutes of The Wait, I enjoyed my latest escape, and tried not to think too much about my latest, perhaps deepest loss. One which I knew I'd survive (perhaps better off), but which hurt nonetheless. I didn't know my wife as long as I knew my grandfather, and she's certainly not deceased, but I loved her, and she's nevertheless lost to me.
As I flew that day to the only place left that felt like home, I spent time with my old friends Mario and Zelda, catching up on their adventures and laughing at old jokes. I was 10 years old again, and working hard, again, to exhaust a seemingly inexhaustible supply of serial entertainment in the hope of finding peace through escape. I was on a plane smelling faintly of old upholstery, peanuts and kerosene, but in my mind it smelled like mothballs.
Russ Pitts is an Associate Editor for The Escapist. He has written and produced for television, theatre and film, has been writing on the web since it was invented and claims to have played every console ever made.