By Jonathan Park
It was January 18th, 2015. I was at Target, looking at all of the Beyblades and figurines in the toy section with my two brothers. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something reflective with yellow letters and a picture of a red striped monkey with fire on its head. A Pokemon pack. I quickly snatched the pack. I had seen some of my friends at school playing with the Pokemon cards before, and spotting the pack at target made me curious to know what all the fuss was about. Without examining it further, I chucked the pack into the red cart behind me, hoping that my mom wouldn’t notice. It would be my first Pokemon pack. I was so excited it was almost too much for my 5-year-old brain to comprehend.
That year, I started my collection journey, and me and my brothers bought a new pack of Pokemon cards every chance that we got. When the weekend came along and we were dragged to Hmart for grocery shopping, we always went to the neighboring toy store to see if there were any new packs. At the toy store you could find all sorts of Pokemon cards, including special editions like Sun and Moon. But the goal of all of this collecting was to find a shiny card–those were the most rare. This is what made opening new packs so exciting, the anticipation of it all, the mystery of not knowing what cards the packs contained and the potential of getting a super rare card that you could show off to your friends. After buying the cards, my brothers and I could never wait to get home so we opened the packs in the parking lot, as soon as we got into the car.
After I began growing my collection, I began trading cards with my friends at school during recess. Before I had a Pokemon card collection of my own, I had seen kids trading them before, huddled together with stacks of cards splayed out around them on the ground. If someone else’s card caught your attention, you would ask if that card was available for trade. And if it was, you would offer up one of your own cards that may have caught their attention. Depending on what you offered, then you had a trade.
On my birthday in 2020, I celebrated by throwing a pool party. My friends and I were swimming, eating, and yelling because someone had just been shot with a water gun. When it was time to open the presents, everyone quickly gathered to see what I had gotten. After opening a few of the wrapped gifts, I realized that the majority of my presents were Pokemon cards. Apparently, I had developed a reputation for being obsessed with collecting.
Before I even realized it, I had a binder full of more Pokemon cards than I knew what to do with. I had developed quite an expensive hobby, spending all of the money my grandparents had given me for birthdays and Christmas on Pokemon cards instead of saving it. Some of my favorite cards had some of the coolest names in the world, like Grattini, a big black snake with horns. It was very shiny too. My binder was a huge collection with multiple Ex’s and Gx’s (those are the rarest pokemon cards if you guys didn’t know. Deciding my obsession had gotten out of hand after years and years of collecting, I gave my pokemon cards to my brothers.
After that, my interests in Pokemon dwindled. I began collecting Beyblades instead, to fill the void that giving away my cards had left. I don’t remember who or what piqued my interest in Beyblades, but soon, I began obsessed with that instead.
Now when I think back to my Pokemon collection, it feels a little bittersweet. I have so many great memories, opening up those shiny silver packs in the parking lot of H-mart with my brothers, looking forward to trading with my friends for the first time during recess. Now that I’ve grown older, I am expected to develop more serious hobbies, and instead of playing with toys and cards, I have to read and study all the time. But I still look back fondly on those times I spent years ago obsessing over pokemon cards, especially in the midst of the pandemic when we had nothing to do but enjoy each other’s company.
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