Friday, June 10, 2011: I've spent the week in Los Angeles covering the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo, and for the first time I've covered it largely as a solo act. It was my seventh time out to the big show and the first one I've covered without Kombo's brand name and clout backing me up. It was not an easy job. I checked out of the hotel room before dawn and made my way to the airport, then caught the long five-hour flight home. Exhausted, I staggered off of the plane and into the jetway. Last year I had to take a cab home, but this year I'd made better arrangements.
I flew out to Los Angeles the prior Saturday morning. While waiting in the terminal, I opened my carry-on bag and found a heartfelt, handwritten letter from a wonderful girl that I'd been dating for a while. Nicole and I met on a Saturday for lunch three months earlier, and that lunch turned into coffee which turned into walking around the mall which then became dinner. Our first date lasted ten hours. Over the course of many Saturdays together, we grew closer and started to fall in love. I won't share what she wrote in the aforementioned letter, but I will say that I reread it several times during the week while I was away. We carved out small fractions of time to talk on the phone during E3 week. That itself was a challenge thanks to the three-hour time zone difference and our busy schedules. By the time I woke up in the morning, she was already at work, and by the time I returned to the hotel at night, she had long since gone to bed. We exchanged text messages and e-mails when possible, but my busy schedule made any written messages between us more like messages in bottles than realtime communication.
After her work day was done that Friday, Nicole made the long drive to the airport to meet me. I arrived there before she did, and then it took us some time to find each other in the middle of the massive crowd of people coming and going, but once we did there was much hugging and kissing. We made our way back to her car as I told stories of what I'd seen and done on the west coast. E3 week was grueling. I played demos on the show floor, interviewed a few people, wrote as many articles as I could manage, livetweeted media briefings, and recorded podcasts. Nicole was keeping up with it all though as I learned when she handed me a small "welcome home" gift wrapped in silver paper. I eagerly tore into it and found inFamous 2 staring back at me, a game that I had wanted and fully intended to buy for myself once I'd returned home. How did she know that I'd wanted it? During the Sony press conference's presentation segment about inFamous 2, I'd mentioned in passing on Twitter to the general audience that I planned on picking it up. It was idle chatter during a busy moment for me that was forgotten almost as soon as I'd written it, but she took note and made Cole MacGrath's visit to New Marais the perfect gaming cap to my long trip.
inFamous 2 is the first video game that Nicole gave me, but it's not the last...