In the summer of 1977, my family made the hour-long car trip to the town of Bend, Oregon see the movie Star Wars.
I was ten years old, and I had been waiting for what seemed an eternity to see the movie. In retrospect, I didn’t care so much about Star Wars as I did about fitting in.
By the time I actually got to see it, I was still stinging from the shame I’d experienced when Alice Cannon insisted we play Star Wars in the basement of my house. I knew Alice’s older brother Calvin was a big fan of science fiction, but I hadn’t expected the same from her. In the past, we had spent our time together in a totally different way – such as secretly playing her parents Carpenters albums on the record player so we could lip sync to songs like “Yesterday Once More.”
But that summer, the Carpenters were out and Star Wars was in. And, even though I had no frame of reference, when Alice wanted to play Star Wars, I agreed.
I shouldn’t have.
Despite her best efforts to engage me in playing the role of various characters, she finally gave up in disgust when I couldn’t even figure out what she meant when she said “just act like R2-D2.”
So when my parents announced we were finally going to see Star Wars, I couldn’t have been happier. Despite the long car ride, the longer ticket line and our seats in the very back of the theater, I thought my needs had finally been met.
That only lasted until the movie started.
I didn’t get the plot. I didn’t understand how I was apparently the only person in the entire world that didn’t like the movie. And, most critical of all, I still didn’t understand how I could have acted like R2-D2, who didn’t say anything but instead spoke in mechanical beeps.
What I did understand was that the Carpenters had probably been correct when they had sung “We’ve only just begun.” I knew that this Star Wars thing was going to last much longer than I wanted.
My dad confirmed my fears as the credits rolled when he said, “Well, it’s obvious they are going to make a sequel.”
Which is why, during the long, dark car ride home, I curled into a ball in the back seat and tried to reassure myself that at least I liked the theme music. (For the record, I got the sheet music and played it over and over again on the piano that fall.)
All of this is why I found myself sighing loudly this past October when my husband asked me at least three times if I wanted a ticket to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening night.
He seemed so hurt and confused when I told him that I had no idea what I would be doing on December 18 and that buying tickets that far in advance was ridiculous.
Neither he, my children or millions of others thought it ridiculous at all. To them, it was an event for which to plan accordingly. And they did.
To me, the new Star Wars is something else entirely.
It is a reminder that. sometimes, the things we think we want the most aren’t what will make us happy. What does make us happy is discovering and pursuing our own interests and passions.
As the Carpenters would say, that’s what puts me at “The Top of the World.”