Arcades and Vans

second year evan lasseter

photo by sofi gratas

photo by sofi gratas

I am quite convinced that at age nineteen, soon to be twenty, I can’t be the only one of my peers who gets absolutely floored when they see an arcade. For one thing, arcades maintain a youthful exuberance--full of games to be played and prizes to be won, which can easily grow stale at this point in our lives. Looking back on my times in arcades, I realized there was nothing more valuable than the tokens we used to play. Each game cost maybe one, two tokens— and our biggest dread was watching one roll under a machine.

In reality these tokens were worth nothing, but to a young person, they were everything. Unfortunately in the rush of life, filled with tests, socials events, and well, simply growing up, these tokens don’t mean much to me anymore either. But looking around, I see tokens everywhere. Not ones we use in arcades, but items of significance, that are attached to our being and become security blankets. We collect items we could never lose and items we honestly couldn’t live without. I have my own, and perhaps a few just popped into your head. Our tokens of life may be small or meaningless from the outside; but just like those ones from the arcade, they can go a long way.

One day I saw a picture of my idol in a pair of gray Vans. I was riveted. I saw what I thought to be the coolest pair of shoes I had ever seen in my life and bought a pair of my own the next day. Before long, these shoes were not just an article to cover my feet, they were my identifier. For a stretch of about a year and a half you could find these simple gray Vans in nearly every picture of me. Eventually they became beaten, ripped, and stained. I feel like most people would move onto the next trend, or find a new style, but I turned around and bought the exact same pair of gray Vans as before. Needless to say, if you saw me walking through Tate this afternoon, there they would be. Beaten, stained, and torn yet again, but irreplaceable.

It is truly fascinating the stories objects have to tell about us and the lives we live-- where we’ve been and where were going. I guess the point here is to embrace that they are there. To recognize that even amongst friends and personal relationships, our possessions live life with us too. Some people say you shouldn’t put so much into physical items, or worldly possessions, but the truth is the essence of our tokens isn’t physical at all. We feel them in our hearts, and that’s truly where they live. I encourage us all to embrace it, talk about it, and tell the stories of our tokens. Life is but an arcade, waiting to soak those tokens all up.