Sunday, May 4, 2014

Star Wars Memories

June 1980

My mom and I rush to Northern Blvd & 83rd Street in Jackson Heights, New York. We go through the lobby doors and I wait around anxiously as my mom purchases something. We then go through another set of doors into a darkened room lit only by a giant screen in front of us. As we're walking down the aisle, I'm clutching my mom's hand, and there it is on the screen; Imperial Walkers trudging through snow and annihilating Rebel scum. My earliest memory just happens to be my mother and I seeing my first ever movie in a theater, The Empire Strikes Back. And thus a nerd was born.

I was five years old and had no idea what was going on. It didn't matter that we were late to the movie because I hadn't even seen the original Star Wars yet. That's right. One of the biggest reveals in cinematic history was lost on me. But it didn't matter because I was hooked. There were space battles, lightsabers, and a little green dude who sounded like Grover. It would be another few years before I saw the whole trilogy in its entirety, crammed onto a single VHS tape recorded in crappy quality on EP speed. But you know what? I watched the hell out of that tape.

The Game My Parents Hated

The Empire Strikes Back video game for the Atari 2600 was my jam! It's that almost never ending game where you're piloting a snowspeeder trying to take out AT-AT's. And all you did was bide your time until you got the force and were invincible. And my parents hated that I spent so much time in front of the TV with it. "Mom, I'm fighting off the Empire here," was not an acceptable excuse. And I realize now, because there was no end, every game ended with me dying. The freaking Empire won every time.

My Summers in the 80's

Both my parents worked, so summers when I didn't have school, I was sent to live with my aunt and uncle in Manhattan. And my cousin, who was 4 years older than me had the most glorious Star Wars collection. He had an X-Wing Fighter, the Millennium Falcon, and more action figures than you could shake a stick at! I had a Bespin Luke Skywalker figure with blonde hair, an R5-D4 droid, and THREE Yodas. Needless to say, my Luke went through A LOT of Jedi training. There was a certain amount of envy with those toys. But like a lot of interests, things fade and get replaced over time.

Star Wars as an Adult

My Star Wars fandom has definitely tapered off. That fourteen year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace may have had something to do with that. It's a little weird. Something that meant so much to me growing up, I have very little paraphernalia of today. Outside of the Blu-rays of the original trilogy, I don't collect Star Wars stuff. So I filled my life with other interests; Transformers, Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles. And later on I added Harry Potter, the Marvel Universe and now Doctor Who on top of other interests that are too numerous to list. But with a new trilogy coming out, and a new director at the helm, I can only hope that Star Wars wonderment will return.

Did George Lucas ruin my childhood? Certainly no. He created a universe that provided countless hours of entertainment for me growing up. He did disappoint my adulthood with a new forgettable trilogy but that's okay. I'll always have my original trilogy memories, save for the Yub Nub celebration. :P

And it will never take away that first memory of walking into a movie theater with my mother and being in absolute amazement of giant walking robots shooting lasers out of their heads.

So go do something Star Wars related, have a happy Star Wars day, and May the Force Be With You!

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