It was a video game cartridge for my handheld console. Pokémon Sapphire Version for the Gameboy Advance. All these new creatures unheard of in real life, and a new you. It was a game where you could live in your own world, your own universe. It was an electric blue, semi-transparent game, with its name printed in bold gold and snow white colors.

I don’t remember the things I imagined while playing pretend. But I know I enjoyed it. Right now, it’s probably in a dump, or in someone’s attic. On the plane ride from New York to Florida, I must have dropped it. Someone else may have picked it up. Threw it in the trash. Brought it to their own kid. I’m not sure, but I cried for hours.

I don’t remember all the things I wanted to do when I grew up. I figure that I wanted to do something creative. I wanted to draw, take pictures, write. I just wanted to do what I was already doing from a young age.

I don’t remember the mean things the other children said when they thought I was different from them. I know it hurt. I know I didn’t like them, but at the same time, I craved for their attention. I was weird. I was different. And they couldn’t accept that. And that’s okay.

The game was my favorite thing. It let me create a world where I was free to imagine. My life in the game felt very important. I felt very important. I had a goal in the game to become the best. Become the strongest. That’s what I wanted to do in real life. But I was very young. I wasn’t ready yet.

Yes, I was playing pretend. But it taught me more than any textbook could.

It was like I had a world that was all my own. I could explore my creativity on a new platform. I imagine a different me. A different life so unlike my own. A life where people wouldn’t judge me. Where children wouldn’t bully me.

The game is long gone. I’ll never see it again. It was the best out of all the games I played at that age. And I eventually had to accept it that it was gone. Even if I had to, it still lingered in my mind. I don’t know what it was about the game, but it brought out my creativity. I don’t remember the first moment I pushed my imagination out of my head and onto paper. But maybe it was when I shed the material — the game — and focused on myself.