It Began with a Cartoon
When I was in middle school, my friends and I were huge anime fans. We fell in love with an anime series called Escaflowne. In that series, a teenager uses her tarot deck and pendulum to guide her and her friends on their quest.
I loved the idea of having that sort of guidance in my pocket. But I was raised Catholic and, without even asking my parents, presumed they wouldn't be okay with my bringing tarot into the house.
Out of flimsy spiral notebook paper, I created my first deck. It wasn't beautiful or durable, but it was mine, and it was enough to solidify my interest.
My first "gifted" deck
Time passed as it does, and my friends and I finished watching Escaflowne (mind, this was pre-streaming services and we had to get our parents to drive us 40 minutes to a used video store that imported subbed anime because we weren't going to watch dubbed). My flimsy tarot "deck" either disintegrated or I threw away the no-doubt torn cards. I don't recall.
Once I could drive though, trips to Barnes & Noble were a regular weekend occurrence (my bibliophile self couldn't have stayed away if they'd banned me).
I remember the day I found a tarot deck there I liked. The cards were narrow and long, a deep bluish-purple, and of a medium-weight card stock. Accompanied by a thick book to help decipher the meanings, this was a definite upgrade from my first deck.
"But don't you know they have to be a gift?" my friend asked.
At the time I believed they had to be. Of course, it's nice when they are and that augments a deck with a generous energy, but my younger self didn't know I could make the purchase myself without voiding the magick.
"What if you give me the cash and I buy them," my friend said.