I couldn’t tell you when I saw Star Wars for the first time. It was somewhere in my late single digits, while I was in Baltimore visiting my extended family with my parents and brother. My parents left my brother and me with my Uncle Wayne for the day while they were doing, well, whatever they were doing that day. It was long enough ago that I don’t remember and it really isn’t that important.
Wayne was a quiet man who commanded attention when he spoke, simply because he never said anything irrelevant. I never really got to know Wayne that well, but the first time I watched Star Wars was with him and my brother. It was just the three of us and, thinking back on it, I don’t think Wayne knew what to do with us. When in doubt, watch a movie. He started listing off some movies he had on VHS. When Wayne mentioned Star Wars my brother jumped up and said, “That one!” I wasn’t sold. I am a few years younger than my brother, and I saw a juicy cartoon flick in the pile calling my name, but my brother convinced me to watch Star Wars. His talk about spaceships and lasers caught my attention, and saying it was like The Last Starfighter, a favorite at the time, really sealed it.
So the three of us sat down in the two recliners my uncle had (my brother and I fit into one) and started watching. My uncle read the opening scrawl to me because I couldn’t read fast enough at that young age, and then the lasers started. I was immediately hooked–nothing like a bit of action to get a little boy excited about a movie! Then I got to meet Darth Vader for the first time. I knew as soon as he stepped through the wreckage that he was a powerful enemy and not to be trifled with. As the movie unfolded and I got to meet the rest of the characters from the universe, I became more and more enthralled.
I got to enjoy the scenes with the wonder of a child, and some of those memories stick with me today. As a child I remember the scene in the garbage smasher a lot differently than I do in my recent memory. As a kid, the imagery of the waste pit was much more impactful. I could almost smell it. Today I see a pit full of styrofoam and water. I understand the scene but I don’t feel it the way I did as a child. The excitement of Luke and Leia swinging across the chasm to escape the stormtroopers was a highlight of the movie for me as a kid. I carry those early memories with me as I rewatch the movies today. It makes them better than if I had watched them for the first time as an adult. In a way I get to recapture the wonder of my childhood.
Years later as I was leaving home to go to college, I started reading the novels. Once again, it was my brother who got me started. Our shared interest in the Star Wars stories allowed us to stay connected as life spread us further and further across the country. We would read the books and talk about them on the phone or when we got together for the holidays, each of us sharing our thoughts and a recommendation for the next novel to read. One series, the Republic Commando series, really captured my brother’s attention.
He loved the series, I think, mostly because he was a huge Boba Fett fan, and this series featured the Mandalorian culture. It was about the elite Clone Commandos of the Clone Wars and the Mandalorian man that took them on as his own children. The father, Kal Skirata, was one of several Mandalorian trainers that Jango Fett hired for the Kaminoans. This group instilled the Mandalorian culture into a large portion of the clone troops and helped them to find their own, unique identity.
I mention this because one of the characters of the novel was Ordo Skirata, one of the adopted sons of Kal. I found this character very interesting. He was an emotionally complex character who filled the eldest brother role; to me, he was the most real of all the characters. I liked this character so much that I took his name as my screen name for video games and the podcast that I produce.
This screen name has become more important to me because of the connection it has to my brother. A few years ago he “became one with the Force.” Star Wars was something that my brother and I shared. It connected us and brought us closer through the years. Every time I make a new character in a video game or read about one in a book, I get to feel that connection to him. I think about what my brother would think of the character and the story. In that way I keep him close to my heart.
Star Wars also helped forge one of my closest friendships. Redna and I had played video games together for a few years, but we really grew into more than just gaming friends when we embarked on an epic journey. We decided to read every book in the Legends EU timeline, starting at Kilik Crisis. It took about six months to work our way through the epic journeys of the Skywalker and Solo clans. As we read the books, we discussed each one and shared our thoughts. We suffered through the deaths of Mara Jade, Chewbacca, and Anakin Solo together. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had with reading because I got to do it with my friend.
The most wonderful Star Wars connections in my life are still developing. The stories from a long time ago and a galaxy far far away are something that I share with my wife. We enjoyed them so much that we chose to name our first child Ben, after Ben Kenobi. Now that Ben is getting old enough, I am introducing him to the Star Wars galaxy. I hope that Star Wars will be something that we will be able to share together for years to come as he learns about the characters and stories that I love.
That is what Star Wars means to me: Connections. It is a story that brings us together the way the Force does with all things. Now that I have started working on It’s a Trap Podcast, I have started developing connections to so many other people. It is a kind and wonderful community, and I am proud to be part of it. I will continue to enjoy Star Wars in all its forms and the connections to people it gives me.