I recently watched the new Star Wars – The Force Awakens. What an incredible journey that was. I felt instantly transported to a time so long ago…in a galaxy far far away…
The first time I saw Star Wars I was five years old and living in a foster home. I wasn’t there long, maybe half a school year? I was a lost little soul who was just grateful to have a home base, even if I had to share it with a mean-spirited four year old who was likely spawned from the Devil himself. The four-year old was the natural daughter of my foster parents who was (understandably) jealous of me and did everything in her power to make sure I knew I did not belong in the household. So many nights I spent relegated to the bedroom for nefarious evils I hadn’t devised; much less committed. My childhood was complicated, in more ways than I care to divulge. At this point I felt so isolated; I felt like it was all my fault. Before the foster home we were living in a shelter. I remember the magic of having a color TV and a refrigerator stocked with food but garnished with a padlock to prevent people from dipping into the stash. I remember laying in my top bunk feeling finally safe as the lights of the passing cars splashed against the walls of the bedroom I shared with my baby brother and my mother.
I never had a father figure, that was something Luke and I had in common. The first memory I had of a real father figure was in that foster home. I was sent there with my brother shortly after a stint at the Rainbow Retreat; a shelter somewhere I believe in Phoenix, Arizona. This foster home was grand. They had a swimming pool and lots of food. It was the first place I ever tasted Corn Pops. I shared a bedroom with a little girl a little under a year younger than I was. She had this magnificent dollhouse …it was as tall as I was. It had furniture and rugs and I remember staring at it and willing it to be my reality. I wasn’t allowed to touch the dollhouse. There were some tough times at the foster home, but overall it was a cakewalk compared to my real life. The little girl was bratty, but I had access to food, a bed, and a feeling of protection. I can’t quite explain it. It was at this foster home that I learned to ride a bike for the very first time. I will never forget the elation. I was so scared, but I caught on quickly and that feeling never left me. To this day whenever I jump on a bike, the feelings I experienced when I was 5 years old that year come back to me instantly. I felt alive, I felt adventure, I felt freedom. I felt like I could escape it all. Anything is possible on two wheels…I believe that to this very day.
So back to Star Wars. I was sitting on my foster-dad’s lap when I saw it for the very first time. The magic. The wonder. I related to Luke in so many ways. I too had been separated from my family. Maybe I had some sort of crazy force within me as well. So many parallels would touch home between my life and this fantasy we all called Star Wars. I lived my life like a Nomad…never really belonging anywhere. I went to thirteen different schools and didn’t even graduate. I eventually met my father who was Darth Vader realized…he tried to pull me into the dark side and quite literally almost destroyed me on so many different levels, but somehow I made it out alive and well and pushed forward to who I am today. It’s a silly movie for some but Star Wars was a reckoning for me. It was a fantastical version of my every day life. I battled so many foes on my path to becoming who I am today. I had a very strong sense of right and wrong (the force) that helped to guide me through the most treacherous of landscapes…sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much, but in the end I made it out alive and better off for it. I put myself through college and worked hard to build a life that wasn’t available to me as a child. My childhood wasn’t ideal, but it taught me to be strong and that I have the ability to make it through anything. My mom was a single mom who may not have been perfect, but she gave me the tools I needed to do whatever I desired, and in the end I think she raised some pretty awesome kids. I’m grateful for everything and every one who has graced my life in the almost 39 years I have been alive. I’ve known magic; truly…it exists in people and places and yes, sometimes movies. I’ve had a lot of magic in my life, and those of you who brought it to me know who you are. Thank you, and thank you Star Wars, for giving a foster kid with no hope something to hang on to.