Disturb not the harmony of fire, ice and lightning
Lest these titans wreak destruction on the Earth on which they clash
Though the water's great guardian shall arise to quell the fighting
Alone its song shall fail, thus the Earth shall turn to ash
Oh, chosen one, bring together these treasures three
Their power combined tames the beast of the sea
July 2003. I was 16, having taken eight out of my nine GCSEs and yet already Done With This Shit. I had one more to take - ICT, paper two - on which I knew I couldn't get an A*. I hadn't really tried particularly hard on the ICT coursework, knowing that none of what I was doing would be pertinent to real-life ICT. Having breezed through year 10, I hadn't put a lot of work into year 11. If I did well on the ICT paper, I'd get a B.
And I did.
For a while, being 16, I'd badgered my parents for a present - something to celebrate getting through the GCSEs and not killing myself through stress (although I came close a couple of times). I'd lost my auntie, and been turned down by the girl-I-used-to-have-a-crush-on; these were bad times, all told. Einstein was getting an electric guitar (even though he doesn't play the guitar). Lightsinthesky was getting a new bass (he did play). My less intelligent, but well-meaning, friend got £50 from her parents for every A (she got 8 As, which probably explains why she's got a house now and everything). My parents relented, settling for getting me a meal and one small present of my choice.
I asked for a VHS of Pokémon: The Power of One.
It wasn't a random choice. Through my difficult teenage years, very little had stayed constant. I was in a continuous state of flux and had no distant goal to approach, no direction to proceed in. Sure, I was horny, but I didn't express my sexual desires beyond getting erections and enjoying the sensation (I didn't go any further than that). I was certainly drifting towards better things, but that was mostly through happenstance. Exactly where I was going, I wasn't sure. But I always had Pokémon.
I love Pokémon. I always have and I always will. I watched it every morning before school, and I was one of the first to see Mewtwo Strikes Back at the local cinema - I went with Music Man and another friend (incidentally, for the second movie, Lightsinthesky joined us, and for the third, a full consignment of myself, Lightsinthesky, Einstein and Music Man went) and, while it wasn't everything I'd hoped for, I was impressed. The Power of One, however, was something else. The plot, animation, and characterisations were all on point; it wasn't trying to sell anything, so it had more emphasis on making a movie; and the music blew me away. It still does - Seven's alarm clock plays The Legend Comes To Life to wake him up, and I openly wept the first time I heard it in the kitchen.
We passed a VHS in the supermarket and I asked my dad to buy it for me due to the fact that I only had one more exam to take. I even promised not to watch it until I'd taken said exam - and didn't - but I wanted to hold it in my hands. I wanted to have a physical copy of this, the film I loved. The film whose song I carried in my heart, never mind all the talking animals and irritating protagonist.
And I watched it, and I watched it, and I watched it again until our VCR stopped working and all our VHSs were consigned to a box in the attic (although they all still work, I'm sure - I watched all six Star Wars films on VHS a couple of years back after The Force Awakens was announced and they all worked).
It still brings a tear to my eye when I think about it.
For the first time in many years, I have a little money to spend - I've been earning some more than usual. Maybe I can save some; maybe I can put some aside. At one point I'll have to buy a ticket to Eroticon (even if I'll never stretch to Woodhull).
But I can afford a DVD.
So I'll buy one. And I'll watch it. And I'll cry. And I'll feel, for a moment, like I'm 16 again.
And, for those moments, I can escape.