None of my old comforts work anymore. Remember when all I ate was salad in a bag? Remember when I listened to Ringo (1973) on repeat? Remember when I watched the whole run of MASH 3 times in a row?
Every year of the pandemic has its own feeling, its own coping methods. 2020 was Fine Line by Harry Styles. 2021 was getting back on Twitter.
For most of 2022, I have been watching Griffin McElroy play video games with weird rules. When he used to write about games for Polygon, he also made video series, playing Pokémon and World of Warcraft. But these weren’t regular Let’s Play-style videos. He would play these games with restraints, limitations. In WoW, he couldn’t kill anything. In Pokémon, his pocket monsters didn’t faint, they died, for real.
His most recent series is called Trial by Fieri. He’s playing the Zelda game, Link to the Past, with Guy Fieri in place of Link as the hero. Also every treasure is in the wrong place. And he dies in one hit. Over 12 mostly 1 hour episodes, he beat the game, even with those wild parameters. I’ve watched this series almost constantly since he finished it, three months ago. It’s just long enough that by the time I reach the end, I want to watch the beginning again.
But I can’t explain why. Why does this series work for me right now, but MASH no longer does? Why can I watch Griffin play the same games over and over, but when I tried to rewatch Sports Night, I bounced off. My brain decided that it knows Sports Night too well; I’ve seen it too much. It didn’t feel new enough to satisfy.
Since the pandemic started, I’ve taken two vacations. The first was in the late summer of 2021, to a hotel in downtown Vancouver (I picked one with a pool). The city is familiar, but the neighbourhood was new. The second time I traveled afar was to LA in late March. The city is familiar, but the neighbourhood was new. It was just enough to satisfy me for a moment.
Novelty is what my brain craves most right now. I bought Pop Tarts the other day. I bought Lucky Charms last week. I’m feeding my inner child, the one who never had sugar cereal or pop at home. I want something different than what I’ve had for the last 40 years.
I want my whole life to be different.
So while I figure out what that different looks like, I’m spending this midweek weekend at my parents’s house, swimming in the pool and not washing dishes. I hope you’re finding some new comforts, too, these days.