Happy 50th Birthday, Star Trek!!

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It’s the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek.

I remember the first time I watched an episode. It was in the 6th grade and I wanted to stay up later on a school night. My mom told me that I could but only if I watched the TNG episode that was on. I was a kid, of course I’d do whatever I could to stay up late.

While I don’t remember the specific episode, I do remember being instantly drawn into it. It only took one episode before I dove headfirst into being a Trekkie (a name which I wear proudly). Back then it was definitely uncool to be a geek and openly profess your enjoyment of things like Star Trek. But being uncool didn’t bother me (for the most part). Instead I found friends that became my “bridge crew” throughout elementary school. Even now, about 22 years later, we’ve been known to randomly call one another by our ranks. I was Captain Picard. Elizabeth was Commander Riker. Telece was Counselor Troi, and Rebecca was Wesley Crusher. There’s a picture from my birthday one of those many years ago where we all stood laughing behind a poster of the Enterprise-D that had been gifted to me.

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I went to my first Star Trek conventions back then when they were in tiny hotels, in one ballroom for the speaker, dealers, and autograph line. Of course, there was only one guest at a time back then. I saw John DeLancie twice and James Doohan once. I even remember that I dressed as Dax for my first convention. I was maybe 12 at the time.

My mother seemed delighted that I threw myself into the fandom without looking back. She’s always been a fan and she only encouraged my love of it. When she could, she found Star Trek toys for me (all of which I have to this day), snagged Star Trek magazines for me, and introduced me to TOS and the movies.

Star Trek gave me hope for the future. I knew the history of Earth and the Federation in the series. I knew of the third world war that was a nuclear war. I knew the Eugenics Wars. I knew the struggle that almost wiped out humanity before a starship named Enterprise would ever be constructed. And yet, the show provided a glimpse into a brighter future. A future of science, exploration, and relative peace. I delved into the science, the metaphysics, the ethics. I read everything I could get into my eager hands.

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I’m 36 now. I’ve met many of my Star Trek idols. I told Terry Farrell that I dressed as her for my first convention. Confessed to Armin Shimerman that I had a crush on Quark. Told Rene Auberjonois how much I loved him as Odo. Fist bumped Brent Spiner and discussed his singing with him. Had LeVar Burton take a picture of my “package” while I was David Bowie to send to his daughter who is a Bowie fan. Been kissed on the cheek by James Doohan. I’ve shaken the hands of almost everyone. And of course, the one photo op I’ve ever paid for was with Patrick Stewart who looked into my soul with his liquid brown eyes and said “hello”. I’ve dressed as Starfleet Officers. As an Orion Slave Girl. I’ve written my high school journals in the style of a Captain’s Log, complete with stardates. I’ve even given the reboot a chance and let myself love it for the alternate universe that it is.

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And like many fans, I dreamed of one day being able to warp through the galaxy on a ship named Enterprise. It didn’t matter that logically I knew that we’d never achieve faster than light travel during my lifetime. It didn’t matter that during my life our world has never been united. The only thing that mattered was that Star Trek showed that humanity did indeed have a chance. The music of Star Trek is a particular way that I feel this. The opening theme to TNG. The original theme to DS9. And the one that truly feels like the struggle and eventual triumph of the human spirit: the theme to Star Trek: First Contact. All of those pieces of music, much like the shows and movies, remind me that though there is darkness, there is also light…..and it will be as bright as the streaks of starlight during warp speed.

Heck, I’m tearing up even writing this.

I know that without Star Trek, I wouldn’t be anything like the person I am today. I am fairly certain that I wouldn’t have become much of a geek. I wouldn’t have met the friends from middle and high school that have stayed in contact through all these years. I definitely wouldn’t have met the friends of my adult years and bonded through our love of Trek. I wouldn’t have felt as empowered in school to explore science as much as I did (even if I did have several teachers that tried to push me back down). I wouldn’t have the hope that I have that just outweighs my fear of apocalypse by Skynet.

I wouldn’t be me.

Instead I have spent well over half my life looking to the stars, knowing that we’ll get there one day. We will boldly go where no one has gone before. And even if we never make it during my life, I’ll still stare at those stars until the end of my days and hold onto that small flame of hope that humanity will find its way to those fantastic and wondrous reaches of space.

We will make it so.

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~ by rumielf on September 8, 2016.

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