little big planet and my childhood.

The title above can not be any more succinct- i love little big planet for bringing back my childhood. Sounds completely mundane out of the amounts of praise to which the Playstation 3 exclusive game has been receiving (or lack therof, in certain places), but it’s certain levels in the midpart of the story mode of the game that have me flabbergasted, thinking about my childhood in Mexico. I was born in Mexico, and I grew up there until I was seven years of age. My mother, a white woman born in southern California, fell in love with my father, a man from Mexico city. I grew up in Mexico for a number of years, until about the summer of 1994, when my mother took me to the United States. My memories of that time are very jolted together, and it’s hard for me to remember everything in that time I grew up the bustling metropolis. I’ve been on a stint as of late to try and remember my time there, but as most of my memories go, they’re mostly visual, mis-mashed together in ways I can’t begin to decipher. My friends in Mexico. My extended family. The private school my mother had to work at so my sister and i could afford going there and receiving a decent education. The small pushcart/go-cart I used to drive in the parking lot of my apartment complex, swerving about moving cars. It’s all tucked away in my brain- I just don’t remember half of them. There will be times when I see something and it just… clicks. I remembered the first game system I played it was the NES, at a friend’s house. I remember the wall surrounding the apartment complex i lived at- the concrete walls with the tops of the walls covered in broken glass as a safety measure. These memories are all locked away in my brain, and it’s hard for me to remember everything. My past life in Mexico is slowly unlocked by visual cues- I remembered the glass on the tops of the walls after seeing a similar wall in South Cenrtal LA. Tublerizer2- CroppedPlaying Little Big Planet, however, brought me back to my memories of my childhood roots, unlocking them. It was The Wedding levels that hit me the hardest. The design of the levels have a distinct Mexican style to it, especially that of the Day of the Dead celebrations held every year around November 1st. The distinctive design of the calaberas adorning the entire levels, the flowers given to the graves of the dead as to honor their heritage. I looked at the screen, the bobblehead eyes of the calaberas staring at my ryu-adored sackboy as it remained frozen for a second, as i sat my controller down and began staring at the screen, at the stage before me. It reminded me of the ofrenda my mother made every October, a small shrine of sorts in the home where you leave offerings to relatives and friends who have passed on. I distinctly remember my mother setting down a can of budweiser beer (a rare thing in mexico those days, if my mind serves me correctly) as an offering to my great uncle Joe, who worked for the Budweiser company as a delivery man. I sat back and tried to remember the last time my family even did an ofrenda. It was probably middle school. I felt guilty I haven’t set down that Budweiser can in such a long time at the ofrenda in offerings to my Uncle. The song playing in the background of the level (youtube link) reminded me of the cassete tapes of Mana my mother had. (to this day, she hasn’t bought any of the tapes in digital form, the only mana album she still owns is the unplugged album that has had an insane amount of play in our stereo). The memories just flooded back to me, and I remembered visiting the grave where my grandmother was buried- the amount of vendors parked outside of the graveyard selling flowers, candles, and other sorts of offerings as the hustle and bustle of the graveyard as families tended to their respective graves. I had forgotten about it entirely. I had to stop playing the game. It reminded me too much of a heritage i had forgotten for some time. I spent some time outside, finding my mother taking care of her plants. I asked her about the ofrenda, and she had to pause to think about it. “Can we do one next november?” I asked meekly. I didn’t explain why until later, but she smiled and nodded. Playing a video game made me think of my identity- one of being of two worlds, of being white and being mexican at the same time, and i just felt… completely lost about both. Since playing Little Big Planet, I’ve taken upon myself to go and try to relearn spanish (got an B in spanish 1, going to take spanish 2 in the fall) and I may take a mexican history class I saw in the class listing earlier this week. Who knows. I would never had been spurred on to do this if it wasn’t that goddamn adorable game.

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