Today I woke up with the flu.

I’m not the sickest I’ve ever been, but sick enough that I was able to call in to work without guilt or hesitation.

Being home sick, from work or school, is walking a fine line, the goal being to be just sick enough that you can enjoy a guilt-free day off. Being home sick, for me, has not changed much since grade-school. Of course I would much rather be free of illness–free of upset stomach, of a stuffed nose, or of a painful cough. But if I have to be ill, at least I can spend the day laying on the couch, under a blanket, playing video games.

Almost every memory of illness I have includes video games in one way or another.

When I was in grade-school, I caught a cold. I stayed home, laying in bed, playing Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island, squinting to see the small CRTV sitting on my dresser, across the room. My mom said “If you feel good enough to play Nintendo, then you can go to school.” I pretended to sleep until I was sure she was downstairs, although I resented having to play with the volume down, for the sake of stealth.

Just a few years later, we visited my grandfather in Las Vegas. I came down with food poisoning so severe it required hospitalization. My dad went back to the house, grabbed my Gameboy Color and my games, and I spent my hospital stay playing The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons in between blood tests, and being asked to shit into a plastic bowl for fecal analysis. This is just one of many memories in which the comfort of a favorite video game turned a bad situation into something manageable, something memorable.

Today was no different. Once I was able to get out of bed, eat a piece of frozen pizza and down a couple ibuprofen, I pulled out my old Playstation 2, settled into the couch, and booted up Silent Hill 2, while my faithful dog curled up next to me, protecting me from viruses and existential horror while keeping my feet warm.

I hope I feel better tomorrow. But I’m not sorry today.

 

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