Like every kid on the Internet in the early 2000s, Neopets changed my life. The virtual pet website was more than a practice in caretaking (sorry, to my perpetually dying Shoyru and Kacheek lol), it was a way to nurture my creativity. From spending summers chatting on the chaotic Neoboards and learning HTML and CSS, to discovering the world of pixel adoptables — I was hooked.
It was only natural that my next digital home would be at the small but active Teahouse MB, a message board for all things kawaii. It was there that I was introduced to dozens of other people who had the same interests as me and made me discover new ones like the art of folding paper stars, polymer clay sculpting, and the biggest of them all: pixel websites.
These small websites (literally tiny and cute!) were made by teenagers who were lucky enough to have their own space on the net. I could only wish for the same: I was yet to be a teenager and lacked the funds to pay for a domain. But by 2009, I outgrew Teahouse and moved onto other communities. As I settled into the newer parts of the Internet, I would continue to dream about those little pixel websites.
a dream come true
Forteen years later, I found a revival of the old web on Neocities. I couldn't believe I was looking at roughly coded pages stickered with pixel art and animated gifs. Every splash page, comment box, adorned cursor, and detailed about me page was a shot of nostalgia. It was comforting to see that my yearning was shared by others. The only difference now was that I no longer had limitations.
On June 2022, I created blanket fort. Beyond an ode to younger me's dreams, carving out this little corner has reminded me to be playful with my art again. Funny how things circle back around.