Storming The Kastle or Why I No Longer Have a Job
Six years ago I walked into a hidden gem of a store on Coleman Ave and discovered it carried everything I had been looking for: legit D&D miniatures, maps, board games, dice, paints, and a free space to play. I was, to use a really bad word, flabbergasted. How had I missed this place? Had it just popped into existence over night? Had I really wished that hard? Did Talon from The Sword and the Sorcerer have to commission replacement swords every time he launched them? You see, up until then, I had no idea these kinds of stores still existed. I had it in my head that the era of brick and mortar game stores had long been over, that I had been born into the wrong era, and that I was almost certainly the only twenty-something year old in all of the bay area who was itching to play some Dungeons & Dragons. Other stores I had visited were primarily comic shops that dabbled in games; by which I mean they carried copies of Munchkin and sold Magic: the Gathering cards. But this store was something else entirely. So I made a mental note of it and every once in a while I would swing by the place to browse and feel like I wasn't so solitary in my interests.
Three years passed. I had managed to stave off the itch to play by introducing some of the kids I worked with to the D&D Basic Game, but I really wanted to be an adventurer in a campaign. I wanted the chance to see an idea grow and take on life. I began writing about who this character would be and I wound up with a talented young fighter in mourning and searching for meaning in a world where being the best puts a target on your back. . . his name was Fenix, and we're still figuring out how his story ends. Still, creating the world of Nova Nitu only made me want to play more and on one of my late nights browsing Meetup I saw that a new group had literally just formed. I joined, becoming a founding fellow in the process, and saw to my delight that the first event was going to be held in the gem of a store I used to visit. This was perfect. Meeting strangers on familiar grounds would be a hundred times easier than if I was a stranger to the venue as well. After some clever negotiations, I roped my then girlfriend (now wife) into coming with me and it is safe to say that Meetup changed my life. It was imperceptible, at first, but I often look back on the day I received a crash course in 4E, think of the D&D family I would come to form, the community I've helped build, all the stories, the memories, and I wonder how different I would feel about everything if I hadn't been familiar with the damn store to begin with.
The calculus is pretty simple. If I hadn't been comfortable with Game Kastle, I wouldn't have talked the Mrs. into coming with me, I wouldn't have gone, and I wouldn't have made the connections I now have. I owe a lot to the existence of the place, and I am happy to say that I am now in my fifth week of working at its newest location.
I use the word "work" lightly here. I mean don't get me wrong, I get stuff done. I reorganize, receive, dust, sweep, clean, reserve, research, check out, advise, stock, pre-order, and price like no one's business. But it's not work; it's taking care of something that means a great deal to me. I no longer have a job, I have... an interest? a hobby? I have a place I get paid to upkeep and hangout at. I am satisfied knowing that I'm going in this evening and that even though it was a pay cut and I now have a longer commute, I don't dread any of it. Not one bit. The store itself is great, the community we help build is all inclusive, and the cast of characters I get to work with is phenomenal. I won't ever list their real names here but their nick- names aren't all that hard to crack if you frequent the place. We've got Sifu(Master of The Beard), the Yeti, the Champion, Link, Tyranitar, Blue, Warmachine, and Mr.666. Great guys every last one of them. What more can I say? I love my new job so much I can't even call it a job anymore. I hope this isn't just a honeymoon stage, because man do I feel like this has been missing in my life, and man do I feel like with this last piece of the puzzle I can finally put myself together.
Anyway, I've been able to use my newfound reserves of energy to scribble something down for you all to read.Nothing major, just a short reflection. Enjoy.