The summer I turned seven and left Jamaica for the U.S., I arrived in Cerulean City on a Gameboy. It was a black-and-white coastal town full of water Pokémon and memories of the blue-green Caribbean sea. In the weeks after my mom dropped me off with a family friend I had never before met, I wandered around Cerulean City until I memorized its map. I spoke with scripted characters in her attic bedroom until the batteries died.
I did not know then that Cerulean AIM messages would tell girls that I struggled to talk to in real life that I liked them. I did not know that I would write in Cerulean on the ezboard roleplaying forum I started in middle school. There, I would play two roles: characters from a Japanese anime and a 23-year-old writer. I would write webs of stories with strangers about the drawn universes that black boys were not supposed to like.
That was before I left role playing for Myspace, before I traded in my worldwide friends for the people in my town. That was long before only using Facebook to look at pictures of a dead friend, perhaps the only person I ever loved. Back then, voicing scripted characters was all I knew of digital communication, friends, and safety.