So long, Indiana
(Written at Indianapolis International Airport, en route to Raleigh-Durham and my final year at Duke University)
From the wonderful Christmas morning when I received a new Super Nintendo to my graduation from middle school in the heyday of the first PlayStation, I was a big video gamer. I’d read strategy guides for titles I hadn’t played, scheme entire games in my notebooks, and win Internet trivia contests. I even had a subscription to Nintendo Power. My favorites were without a doubt the role playing games, which often played like animated fantasy novels and were sometimes superior to their hard-bound brothers.
The classics, from Final Fantasy to Chrono Trigger to Lunar, were close to my heart. The one that most enchanted me, though, was a moderately successful title called Grandia. It didn’t have complex characters or a profound plot, but it was the most inspirational game I ever played because it focused on something many other works had strangely neglected: the spirit of adventure. The cover depicts three of the main characters, one a “professional adventurer” and another aspiring to the same calling, standing atop of an enormous wall overlooking countless acres of rainforest. The partition, we learn in the game, is called the “End of the World” because the heroes’ society does not believe there is anything on the other side of it. These characters have to save the world, just like those in every other game, but while other fantasy protagonists enter amazing places with an air of necessity, Grandia’s enter with awe and excitement. Playing it made me want to go both back in time, to exploring my backyard as a wee tot, and forward, to the days I could drive or even fly wherever I pleased, finally free to see the world.
Eight years later, this day has arrived. Sure, I attended school out of state, and I spent half of 2006 in Europe, but after every trip, I’d return to the tranquil state of Indiana. My family and friends validated my time there, but the knowledge I’d eventually hit the road again kept me from stagnation. Having spent my last three summers doing construction, volunteer, and then office work in the Hoosier state, with time-devouring hordes of chores and housework each year, I am fairly certain that homey Indianapolis is not the place for me. I’m a healthy 21 with some intelligence and no relationships or children. More than half my Hoosier friends are already leaving, and the others are easy to contact through the Web (thank you). I may not scale the End of the World or crash through jungles with hostile, man-sized bugs, but surely some occupation in foreign lands can satisfy me. New York would be a good place to start.
If God laughs at this post and affixes me in Indiana permanently, it won’t be a tragedy. Being the 11th-largest city in the United States, it has its share of excitement and opportunity. It is also a fine place to safely raise a family. At times I shall share the fond sentiments Ballard McDonald expressed a hundred years before me. It is strange to look forward to myself looking backward, but anyway, here are the lyrics of that famous song of my state, a standard in both jazz and balladry:
I have always been a wand’rer
Over land and sea
Yet a moonbeam on the water
Casts a spell o’er me
A vision fair I see
Again I seem to be
Back home again in Indiana,
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight, still shining bright,
Through the sycamores for me.
The new-mown hay sends off its fragrance
Through the fields I used to roam.
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash,
How I long for my Indiana home.
Fancy paints on mem’ry’s canvas
Scenes that we hold dear
We recall them in days after
Clearly they appear
And often times I see
A scene that’s dear to me
Alas, this is the time not for settling but for radiating. And we’re boarding. Indiana, may God bless your lands that they may always be fertile. I will be back to visit, but emotionally, this is my fond farewell.