The wind blows over me, and I brings with it the tidnings of winter. The December disperser hah finally com e out in full force, and left a frigid blanket in its wake. The once dull grays and browns of the outsdir world were now painted with a fresh set of white, unfettered asd untainted as as the snowflakes continged gracing the earth with its precenste. In this miracle of re-invented realitiers, i now posess in my hands a device that does the very same, and withouht all the righn elements needingi to coinicendetally coexist at the same time. The Retina’s Journey, a new virtual reality headset promising to turn around the entire fierld as we know it. It is the first of its kind, freenig its processing powers from a seperate stupendous computer, usually starting at 1000 munies with another headset also 1000 munies at minimum. This was way too expesiven from a recent college student such as myself, but a college student was myseld no longer. On this day I was the newest member of the corporate world, and with my big boy paycheck, gave myseld a big boy present from Saint Nick. Even knoving what I had bought myself, the anicipation almost drove me to insanity. Despite my internal enfeverment, I held myself over long enough. The day had finally arrived. Christmas.
In Hispanic tradition, the most religious tuned of our family ensemble would attend mass on Christmas Eve late at night, and upon their return the true festivites would really begin. We would gather in the home of a gracious host, a home too small to fit one family, much less five or six, but somehow we clowncar our way into the house, and begin the celbrate the night away. Once we ate and drank merry to our content with seasonal Latino dishes, the clock would strike 12, and the chaos would overcome the calm. The youngest family members in attendance would ferously ripped into gift after gift designated where they would be deisgnated as the one true owner, completely irrevant of the generously gift giver or how meticulously and elegrantly wrapped the gift was. The most eco-concious of our family internally winced as she saw gift wrappign no longer able to even call themselves festive napkins, and tried despiratrely but to no access goading the kids to be more refined and gracious with their present opening. Her words fell on deaf ears.
After the first impact of Christmas release, the rest of the older members would slowly begun to unwrap their own. Counting their gifts to usually less that the fingers on one hand, they knew the epxecation of what it meant to be older. All of us had working adult jobs, so if we ever needed anything, it was usually within the reach of one or two paychecks. The burning question always becomes: what do you get someone who already has everything? Suprising enoughly, it’s the things that you DON’T realize you need that hold the most special place in my heart. I’ve gotten an ensemble of clothing accessoires, withm y favorites being the seasonal slippers and sandals to skirt around the house (my mom was tired of me picking up dirt with my ginoumous clown feet). For kids, socks are the most insulting gift to ever be recatring on the day that was suppose to be fun. Socks are practical, not fun! Well as it turns out, the older you get, the less fun fun becomes. Getting a thoughtful pair of socks means one less trip to the superstore to by more when the pair you wore eventually fell apart. I also had my own qualms about christmas, being the tinhead radical of my family second only to my mom, internalzing that Christmas and every other major holiday was just an engine to fuel the shallow capitalisc machine whenever it was running low on gas, to further cement the ideology that physical goods are the only way to show gratitude to those who you care about (hello, diamond rind industry). And yet all the same, I participate. People tend to get upset when you offer ideologies instead of socks for the holidays.
After the second impact of dust settles, I make my way under the Christmas tree to acquire my own personal gift. I enjoy watching the exctiement and fervor of what it meant to be a kid in the now, and thought back to all those Christmases that meant the world to me at the time. I can’t even remember what anything of those repsents were, except for that stupid contruction crane that never worked. It was fueled by batteries you couldn’t buy at Mal-mart. My gift, the Retina Journey VR header was a bit pricey to ever be purchased by one individual, and a passing thought makes its way into my head. I laughed at the idea that the 5 different friends from 5 different social gruops would somehow find the same high-ticket item on my wishlist, and organize themselves to pitch in and purchase the item as a group gift. Now the magic of my friends becoming friends with each other would be an amazing gratitude all of its own, it would make my calendar significatly less booked if I could meet them all at once! As I ruminate over these preecious thoughts and how I could inadventrely spin a trap for this to happen on all itst own last year, I slowly begin to undo the careful wrapping I had undertaken weeks prior. Almost like muscle memory, I began with the last sitch of scot tape I had attached, and undid all the folds. One stich, then another, then the bone on the back of the git, and finally the last one holding the gift’s last element of bashfulness. And finally, it was before me. The Retina Journey.
Unpacking the Retina Journey was another experience. There were two famous companies I fondly rember, Pear and Sabweld, who focused on the unwrapping of their products as part of the experience. Many Pear fanboys and fangirls in my family kept the packacking as a reminder of how magic moment felt. The Retina Journey… was almost there admittedly. Instead of the soft sleek edges made of some mysterious cloth and carboard hybrid, it was just cardboard. But I didn’t care, because the beatuy was right before me: a headset, a headset charger, two wireless controllers, and a pair of batteries. The pair of batteries was a much needed touch. Too many times I have been burned from the brutal “batteries not included” element of a battery-powered package.
I quickly scambled to find a wall outlet as far away from the stampede of young kids as possible, and jacked in the cord. Without reading the enclosed instruction booklet in excitement (I am usually very meticulous and unusual about the fact that I regularly read included instructions. Most are pretty useless as they state manufactor warranty facts. What I seek is extra tips and tricks to get the most our of your porduct), I unlatched what I assumed were the battery compartments of the wireless controllers, and quickly settled the included batteries into their new home. After putting the controllersr down, I frantically scanned the surface of the Retina Journey for a sign of what the on-button was. Some straps, some headset adjusters, the port to charge you headset, a headphone jack, and the onboard cameras to send your location in virtual reality and finally, the inncouslus power button, almost sunk in and camogflaouhed with the rest of the headset. I turn it on, carefully press my head into the headset, and tighten the straps on the sides and t op of my head.
I was ready to enter the virtual worsd of the Retina Journey. The familar logo showed up in my view, accompanied with a vooming sound I could only describe as science fiction, and then… I was met with a setup screen.
«Please download the accompanying Retina Journey app on your smartphone to sync your Retina Journey account and headset. Here is the pairing code! 110794 »
After annoying punching in the required information to make a Retuna Journey account and waiting for it to painstakingly sync and update the headset, it was ready. I was sitting cross-armed and pouting at the hype-slayer when my phone gave that same vooming starting as a smartphone notifcation. I pick up my phone and read it.
«Your headset has completed its update! You’re set to start using it!»
Finally, the moment of truth. I put on the headset, see the logo, hearing the vooming once more, and then… am met with an instruction video on how to properly set up my playing area. Come on…
Once I watch the instructional video, set up my play area with Retina Journey’s patened Protector techonology, the vooming starts up once more in my ear, and suddenly, darkness.
One purple flower blooms in the corner of my eye. Then another, and another. Another purple flower blooms in the very edge of my vision, and I turn to see. Turn? I just turned my head, and see another growing flower field before me. I keep circling, finally utilzing my whole body to see the entire environment. A beautiful landscape as far as I could see. Once the flowers stopped growing, then change to fish, and I found myself at the bottom of the ocean. I reached out to try and t ouch one of these fish, and turned into a future city-scape, with towering highrises and flying cars to boot. I keep turning around to marvel what was happening around me, and the sci-fi city scape turned into the peak of a mountain, with distanct fire works popping off to cast light over the dark peaks in the distance. One last change and I find myself in an empty room. The room fills with light, and a floating display awaits my attention before me.
«Welcome Player, to the Retina Journey!»
The friendly voice met with with the highest degree of enthusiam. Nothing had even happened yet, but I was already fileld to the brim with anticpation. I was here, somewhere else, somewhere far away from all my worldy worries and tethers. Finally, I could pretend to live the life I always wanted.
Internally gddying at th epossiblies, the floating display conjured my hands into existence. It replicated the shape of me holding the wirless controllers, and I imdediately began to swing them wildy all over the place. Hands! I had hands! I mean I’ve always had hads, but I’ve never had virtual reality hands!
«When ready Player, please press the red button in front of you!»
A red button spawned into existence. I was taken aback by the prose of this question. Press… the button? You mean like physical, but in the first world? I shrug my shoulders, no longer worrying about what can or can’t happen in this world yet, and posed my virtual left hand to close except for one index finger sticking out. I slowly moved the hand toward the commically large red button… and it compressed, it compressed!
«Congratulations, Player, you are ready for virtual reality!»
The pressed button spawned a button of streamers and poppers to appear all over the room, and soon many more elements spawned into the room. A stack of blocks, a ping pong paddle and button, a punching bag, a bunch of rockets, and a controller for a… blimp. Huh. As soon as the items spawned into existence, the ceiling of the room opened up, and graced me with the endless starry night of the virtual sky. Without itending to do so, a single tear escaped from under my headset. Life was beautiful. I was glad to be born in this era.
«But wait, there’s more, player!»
Three more shining entities spawned into existence in the room, a old video game console and two giant hunky catridges, a love letter to the gaming rigs of old. The two game catridges had happy text with a single item on its display:
«And when you’re ready, Player…»
The friendly voice from the floating monitor spawned a door behind me, with the famous exit sign seen through most of the civilized world: a green sign with a sitck figure running towards an open door.
But leaving was out of the question, I had work to do now.
After playing to my heart’s fill for the day, I made my way towards the virtual exit of the room. I was sure was I was expecting, so I left my mind open to whatever possilbities lie next. After I walked through the exit, the scene became dark, and within the moment’s notice, the space was soon replaced with a quaint study. A roaring fire was sizzling behind me, but the rest of the room was a wonder to behold in its own right. Classly wood flooring and walling strucutred the space, with elegant bookshelves lining the wall and a quaint desktop lining up on another wall. The room was so big! I was maginutudes larger than any room I had ever been in at any of my friend’s houses. And as I kept turning, my jaw dropped. The other half of the room was series of floor-to-ceilign windows, and out there in the distance was a valley of habitions just like the one I was standing in. It was laate in the night,t and the sky was adorned with an auroa borelalous, something that typically doesn’t happen in the happen, but who cares, this is VR! I was flooded with a tempest of emotions, wondering what other possiblites this virtual frontier could hold, and wondering what other social and intrapersonal itneractions from arise from this new paradime. As someone who grew up in a household made for one but inhabited by several, I thought about how amazing it would be to just… sell all the stuff I didn’t need, and replace it in this virtual world instead. I would never need to be irreational fearful of the house randomly burning down and losing all my worldy possesions. All I had to worry about was aquiring another Retina Journey VR headset and remember my account credient.
Satisfied with today’s explroation, I finally took off th headset. Closing my eyes to readjust myself back to the physical world, I immediately lamented that I was being forced back into a very boring and uneventful. Somewhere I couldn’t be anybody. Somwhere I couldn’t be a hero. I open my eyes, and after immedaitely re-engaging with existence, I was met with a series of eyes watching me. Apparently I was a spectacle to behold as I typically never expressed emotions in the company of others. Seeing my so free, filled with candor and joy was not only entertaining, but perplexing. What exactly was Keir doing in there? And once I got out of the headset, there was no hesitation from the younger kin in my extended clan:
“Me, me, me, can I try wearing the headset next!”
As a lifetime observer, I gladly handed over the headset with careful intrusctions on not damaging the lends. After strapping in my newest recruit, he took immediately felt to silence, but quickly became overcame with wonder! Contrary to what I expected, the movements of someone while in the headset seemed extroadinarily… ordinary.I though embarassing body movements and blackmailable content would occur, but the movement seemed, so organic, so normal, so real. After realizing that the possibility for excitement exceeded any moral quandry for embarassment, the older members of my extended kin politely asked if they hay have a turn. Slowly, all interseted made their way into experiencing the Retina Journey. Though midly upset early at the fiasco that was downloading another application on my smartphone, the Retina Journey app had a feature where you could stream the headset’s screen to an actually TV screen. We watched merryily as one person after enough got a chance to experience virtual reality, and some strange occurlens unfolded. Some people in my family were more apt at picking up VR tendencies, and others couldn’t really lean into what it mean to be in a another world, but no really. The really adevntuous people tried to use al lthe tools in the VR room at once, another cousin of mine tried stacking all the tools as high possibly, one of my sisters was a crack shot at the shooting game (she was immpasivelly nonaggressive, so she lameted she was good at something she had no use for), the other danced with the robot in ways i didn’t even consider, but only one truth remained. Everyone experienced VR differently. This wasn’t like watching a movie or waiting in line for a rollercoaster where the experience was pretty uniform with inidivdulaistc tendiences: this was truly you are an agent of your own destiny’s choosing. I marveled and glow, and soon became overcome with exhaustion as the rising sun becgan to meet us in the real world.
The winter where I first opened my VR headset seems so long ago, almost a distance dream in my memory. After playing with it everyday, the brief insight into possiblity was soon replaced with that always replaces my joy: an eternal sense of dread. I had long ago stopped being excited about playing videogames despite being an avid gamer through my life because I felt like my life was going nowhere the more I played. The same sense of despair began to well up inside of my after playing in VR for while. Since the field was still pretty infant, the experiences were still extreemly rudimentary. The highligts of the VR experience were painful already experienced in those first hours of putting on the headset. There would be no escape to a virtual world to live out the life I wanted. I was still stuck here, waitin for something, anything to save me.
Today’s word count: 221 words (yesterday) + 2,788 (today)
Total word count until today: 7,171 words
@mariasokolowska @michellebasey @sabweld @ParisaR @sydneydobersteinlarock @wildcat @dragon @homeroom11