When I was eleven years old every kid in the neighborhood couldn’t stop talking about this movie called “Star Wars.”
Finally, on a twilight early summer evening my parents took me to see it. If you were alive then you know how it felt to be the first. The moment the Star Destroyer passed over the camera. And then everything for the next two hours… and the rest of your life… everything changed. There had never been anything like it. I think you have to have seen it then, in the theatres, for the first time, to truly understand the gravity of what I’m talking about. The world had changed. Not just movies, but the toys and games we played with as kids. And the storytelling changed as those of us who, one day, would become professional storytellers, began to learn how to tell something epic.
For that I am grateful.
My parents, who had no such interest in crazy things like The Force, blasters, and Wookiees… they sat there next to me as my child’s eyes tried to open wider and wider to take it all in.
They didn’t sit with me the next 11 times I saw it that summer. But they gave me the $2.25 cents I needed for a ticket each time I went. Taking the long walk through a wild wasteland I would later put in a book called The Dark Knight.
And a Millenium Falcon one time when I couldn’t do what all the other kids were doing on a Halloween night. So I sat there, learning to tell scary stories of adventure and spaceships as trick or treating was done by others.
And two tickets to Jedi for me and my best friend one day after I got home from school. My friend and I standing in a line, excited and imagining what exactly would happen next, having no idea that the most diabolical screen villain we knew… could change. Could repent. When that moment happened… when Darth Vader threw the Emperor over the bridge… the whole theatre cheered! I mean out of their seat’s cheering. Can you believe that? It happened. I was there. Because good triumphed over evil.
Every summer seemed like a Star Wars summer back then. Either a movie. A re-release. Comic books. Or just kids running around the neighborhood under the first stars of summer twilight, having adventures, telling stories.
I am grateful to my parents for indulging their day dreaming child. To my best friend who stood with me in those lines. And let me babble on and on about this amazing story unfolding before our eyes. To George Lucas who had the courage to do something new for us kids.
And for that moment when Darth Vader changed. Repented. Went a new direction in the time that remained him. Did the right thing.
I would need that moment later in my life. When I needed to change. I thank God for that.
Now this summer, a 48 year old man who still day dreams, but for a living now, is going back to those twilight summer evenings of Star Destroyers and young heroes. Of dangerous bounty hunters and knights in pieces of junk starships. I’m telling those stories I’d begun as I walked out of the theatre, head spinning. Or played with my friend’s action figures. I’m telling them again. Blasters and bounty hunters. Heroes and villains in armor. Freighters and fighter pilots. Along with another writer who was also once a day dreaming boy, Jason Anspach, we’re doing a thousand words a day in our own Star Wars-style universe. You can follow along. We’ve serialized it. Summers coming… may the Force be with you. Always. As it was then, on those twilight summer evenings.