You have to wonder how anyone gets to Pewter City.

I mean what are the access routes? A dark labyrinthian forest full of dangerous bugs, a set of caves whose other opening is halfway up the mountain, a tunnel full of territorial burrowing animals, and a small road so poorly used that nobody has cut down the saplings choking the pathway.

And the place has a big fancy museum.

Part of what I love about playing Pokémon is running through the world and seeing how these various towns and cities are separated by long tracks of rural lanes and overgrown fields. It always makes me wonder how they're supposed to be prosperous. Admittedly travel through most of Kanto is easy because it's well-connected to the Saffron City hub, so for Generation 1 I didn't wonder all that much. But Pewter City is an outlier to the Saffron hub, as if it wanted to keep itself hidden, tucked away in the foothills of the mountains...

And it has a big. Fancy. Museum.

It's wild. I love the earlier Pokemon games for those weird incongruities. They're a wonderful video game example of the operating principle of a children's story, which is that it doesn't have to make perfect sense because perfect sense is not the point. The point is to have fun. Explaining things in an effort to make perfect sense spoils the fun a bit.

And I play Pokemon for the chance to run my character through the wild, and stumble on these weird little towns, full of people who seem to be doing quite nicely, thank you, would you like to visit our lovely little five-story-tall museum?

That is the primary reason I stopped playing Pokemon Sun and Moon before I had got halfway. I felt as though Alola was not the landscape of wilderness dotted with towns that I had known in Kanto and Johto and Sinnoh and Unova. It felt like the opposite. It felt like the towns had taken over, and there was little space left to have fun the way I wanted. Maybe I just didn't get far enough to find the open fields, or maybe the games accurately depict the shape of life in Hawaii.

Either way, the first part of the game felt like the rest would not be a world that could hold something like Pewter City. I saw a closed horizon instead of an open one.

I would probably not enjoy living in Hawaii.

For all the time I've spent wondering
how I could ever go back
I guess I never really understood
how I ever went forward either

Yeah my way was hard to find
Can't sell your soul for peace of mind

Square One my slate is clear

Sometimes the earlier simpler challenges
can be the most impactful
leave the deepest impressions

I was living to run and running to live
Never worried about paying or even how much I owed

1998 or maybe 99
A lime green Game Boy Color
that I had to share with my brother
my brother, who always seemed more intelligent
always more diligent, always more deft
at navigating those puzzles and stories and games
Us, and Pokemon Pinball, and Pokemon Blue

This is where we walked
This is where we swam
Take a picture here
Take a souvenir

And it was there
the only direction my first steps could take me
that I made my first otherworldly accomplishment
And it was there
within the lore of the television show
that one of my first real heroes
made his first real enemy
who would turn into his first real friend
(or perhaps his second enemy and second friend)

Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then

But this is my generation
This is what taught us to take steps
not woods and neighborhoods
This is what taught us to catch and raise things
not teenage pregnancy
This is what taught us to show off and compete
not broken bones on grassy fields

We stayed in
and that's where we went really
Not to Pewter City
but further inside

It took a world of trouble
Took a world of tears
Yeah it took a long time

To get back here



Bob Seger - Against the Wind
R.E.M. - Cuyahoga (Stipe)
Tom Petty - Square One

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