When I was in middle school, I joined an online Jedi Academy started by one of my older friends. My avatar, Ben Skywalker, was a pretty involved young padawan who quickly rose through the ranks and became a Jedi Knight. Through the use of chat rooms and story-building threads, I trained, dueled, attended classes, and wrote down my character’s perspective in the overarching adventure story we were creating together.
This lasted about two years, until the site was infiltrated by online predators and got shut down. At this point, I was only a few short weeks away from being promoted to Jedi Master and receiving a padawan of my own.
Needless to say, I was devastated. But looking back, those were two great years of my life. Star Wars consumed my every waking thought from sixth to 10th grade, and being involved in something bigger than myself that fueled my infatuation was thrilling. We did not have internet at my house during this time, so I would spend hours at the local library absorbed in a world that maybe, just maybe, actually did exist a long time ago in a galaxy … well, you know.
During this time as a young Jedi, I spent my nights feverishly writing a novel set in the Star Wars universe. It was called “Anakin’s Quest” and took place between the first two prequel movies. Building on the characters I loved as dearly as any of my friends, I created a story that I considered to be my “life’s work” at the time.
A decade later, I’m still convinced the storyline I wrote was full of intrigue, adventure and romance, but the writing was atrocious, and the dialogue was a slightly more advanced reading of “run, Spot, run.” However, for my younger self, this was a world bigger than anything the real world could offer. After all, this was a world where spaceships could be driven around the galaxy by people younger than me. They didn’t even need a space license. This was a world where medieval sword fights were filled with color and the oscillating humming of a thousand butterfly wings. Not only that, the advanced weaponry applied an instant cauterizing effect to human flesh, resulting in not a drop of spilled blood — a fact pleasing to the hemophobic representatives among us, such as myself.
The Star Wars universe allowed me to escape and take flight. Now, at 22 years old and on the verge of graduating from college, I once again find myself wanting to escape to another galaxy, but for different reasons.
At my slightly more advanced age, I see the real world as quite a big place. After all, this is a world where every penny I earn needs to be monitored for governmental tax purposes. I don’t even make that much money, and as a journalist, I probably never will. This is a world where cars don’t come equipped with the deflector shields of galactic spaceships. When I get hit by another object in an earth car, the object doesn’t just mysteriously disappear without a mark. Not only that, I risk getting fined for reckless driving and being summoned to a court in Virginia, even though I live a thousand miles away in Arkansas (Spring Break this year was no picnic).
The world in which I find myself is unlike anything I imagined when I was younger. I don’t know if I’m ready for something bigger, but I have no choice.
All I can do now is write another storyline full of intrigue, adventure and romance — this one for myself. And I promise, if you ever show up in my story, I will do my best to make sure you are always happy; always healthy; always cared for. I will also make sure no dubious predators infiltrate our plot.
Well, this is it. This is the end. Thanks for reading my columns every week. Take care of my best friend Savanna next year. This will be her space; I know she will fill it with many lovely thoughts.