It’s no secret to most of my friends that I’m a huge, and I mean HUGE, Trekkie. My Tumblr blog (where I am a much more active blogger than I am here because animated GIFs and fandom screencaps and a more collaborative blogosphere is really where I like to hang out) is almost entirely comprised of Trekkies and Star Trek-related content. I see Leonard Nimoy’s face come across my dashboard approximately once every 3 seconds, and I spend most of my time on Tumblr either talking about Trek or looking at GIFs and pictures from it. I’m a sci-fi writer and Star Trek is a huge part of my life – it always has been. And I’ve spent the last several years watching as the few remaining actors from a thing that I love maybe a little too much began edging nearer and nearer to elderly status. So I’ve been dreading this news for a while now. I just don’t think I fully appreciated how hard it would hit me until it actually happened. So it happened. And then I wrote this:
Originally shared on March 1, 2015
Yesterday was rough, guys. Let’s be real. None of us (very few of us in any case) knew him personally and probably most of us never even met him, but I know how we all feel right now. I feel like I just lost a grandparent. I finally got home from work last night and just let myself cry for a while.
One of my good friends here in Atlanta lost her mom (very unexpectedly, and way too soon) last week and I kept internally kicking myself and beating myself up for being so upset about this. I mean, how dare I get so upset over a celebrity death when someone is dealing with THAT. But then I had to stop and remind myself that grief is never a competition and my pain does not negate someone else’s.
Quite a few of you are new followers, so I’ve been meaning to do a sort of “about me” type post in relation to Trek for a while anyway, so here it is. LOL, is this my Trekkie Testimony? (A la the Southern Baptist church?) Can that be a thing? I think it would be really cool to read how people got into it, what first attracted you to it, etc.
So. I’m a little older than most of you. I’m 29. I grew up on The Next Generation. In our house, it was a weekly family event. We’d eat dinner, clear the dishes away, then all settle down in front of our old wood panel tv to watch Patrick Stewart and the crew of the Enterprise 1701-D go where no ONE (because 80’s power pant suit feminism) had gone before. I have a distinct memory from that time – my brother, who is a little over 7 years younger than me, LOVED the opening theme song. He was a shy baby. It took him forever to start talking and interacting with strangers – the exact opposite of me, who never met a stranger anywhere I went.
But when that theme song came on, it was like he put on blinders. He would scoot up really close to the tv (as close as we would let him) glue his eyes on that star field wooshing by, and bounce up and down on his little chubby haunches humming along with that iconic tune. Every time. Every week. You could count on him to be in front of that tv, humming the entire song as he bounced excitedly on his heels in anticipation. Sometimes I think it was the most noise you got of him in the entire week. It was always fun to watch.
Now at this time, CBS ran regular re-runs of TOS in the afternoons on the same day as the new TNG episode (I think it was Thursdays?) and I don’t actually remember the first time I came across it, but I have a pretty clear memory, maybe somewhere around 6 or 7, of stumbling across an episode and making the connection – this is the same thing we watch every Thursday night… but it’s SO DIFFERENT. It’s funny, and campy, but also meaningful in a very different way. I don’t know that I picked up on many of the underlying themes of TOS at that age; I was too young to know its context. I didn’t know anything about the role the Soviet Union played in the world at the time it originally aired, so the relevance of Chekov’s presence on the bridge was lost on me. I didn’t understand much about the civil rights movements of the 60’s so Uhura was just a pretty black lady to me, and Sulu was just a serious-faced, very capable pilot – I didn’t fully understand why they were so important.
But one character immediately resonated with me. I. loved. Spock. He was smart, he was sarcastic (despite all his efforts to hide it) but more importantly, he was different from everyone else in the crew, because he was an alien. But more importantly, as I watched more, I realized he was different from everyone, even his own people. As a Vulcan/Human hybrid, he didn’t really fit in anywhere. He was weird, kind of socially awkward, and, perhaps most importantly to me, he always felt like he had something to prove. He could never be good enough, do good enough, he always had to strive to be more perfect, more proper, more like what was expected of him, because to do otherwise would be to fail.
Like so many of us nerds, I was a weird kid. I got along with everyone and I made friends pretty easily, but I was weird nonetheless. In addition to just being kind of odd, I was visibly disabled, and, especially as I got older and became more aware of my difference, I always felt a little like an outsider. And I always. ALWAYS. Felt like I had something to prove.
This is something I still war with today, coming up on 30 years old. I remember learning to tie my shoes at 4, before I started kindergarten, so the other kids wouldn’t look at me with pity because the one-armed girl couldn’t do it. I remember teaching myself to paint my fingernails by holding the brush between my knee and the nub of my left arm, just to prove I could do it. I remember taking every possible sport and extracurricular activity just to prove to myself that I could. I COULD catch and throw a softball, just as fast as the other girls. I COULD do a cartwheel over the balance beam, I COULD swing over the parallel bars, I COULD do a handstand. I COULD play the trumpet. I made a perfect A+ in typing class and still type faster than most people I know (without home row keys, thank you very much.) I COULD toss and catch a color guard flag, just as well as the other girls – BETTER than a lot of the other girls – I went on to become captain of that team my senior year of high school.
The point is, I connected with Spock, as so many kids who grew up watching him did, because he was different, had internal struggles that we could all relate to, and he wasn’t afraid to back down from being the absolute best version of himself, no matter what. There were no excuses, there were no explanations as to why he couldn’t get the job done. He’d always just find. A. Way. And that was inspiring to all of us who watched.
Star Trek in general was so inspiring (and continues to be so) because, in a time of Cold War and the very real possibility of nuclear holocaust, Star Trek dared to say, NO. We will not blow ourselves up. We will not kill each other because of our differences. Instead, we will unite and work together for the common good. We’ll travel out to the stars and see what new differences we can find there, and instead of being divided by them, we will embrace them, celebrate them. We’ll travel into space for the sole purpose of seeing what we can see, and making new friends.
I could say so much more, but this is getting super long, so I’ll wrap it up.
I never got the chance to meet Mr. Nimoy, but I, like so many, answered his Twitter call to become one of his “honorary grandchildren.” I never knew either of my grandfathers. They were both dead by the time I would have been old enough to know either of them. But today, I feel like I’ve just lost another one. RIP Precious Grampa, your nerdy grandchildren all love you, and we’ll miss you. You lived long, you prospered. Thanks for everything.
PS: This billboard is in Atlanta right now and I am so proud of my nerdy city. ❤