Old Friends

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

C. S. Lewis

I’ve been having a conversation with a new acquaintance about our interactions with some old friends. It has been a very interesting, and enlightening, discourse.

Some of these folks I’ve known for 5 decades, give or take. Others came along at varying intervals. My acquaintance, however, is a bit younger and that perspective is different.

Disclaimer: Our conversations have focused on a shared love of the various parts and pieces of “Star Trek” et al.

As I’ve contemplated our discussions, it occurred to me that the relationships we have with people, and characters, are built on how we connect. That spark of recognition, understanding, curiosity that began the connection.

I’m a long time Trek fan, but I also have similar connections with characters of other works; Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series, Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings”, “NCIS” et al, to name but a few.

For most of my life, I’ve been around people who never quite understood why I enjoyed certain things. Science Fiction was way out of the comfort zone for many folks I knew. I was a reader, something else that confounded people, and that didn’t begin to include the types of things I read. To be around people who enjoy books is a rare and wonderful pleasure. To be able to share a media franchise, like “Star Trek” can be great fun. “Outlander” books are my preferred version because they are Gabaldon’s work unfiltered, unedited, unchanged. Tolkien gives me nightmares along with some truly amazing stories. Being able to talk with people who have similar reactions is very enjoyable.

There is something about being around people for a long period of time. You get to know them. Their habits, quirks, warts and all. One may be a bit of a curmudgeon, but underneath has a heart of gold. Another will give you the shirt of his back, no questions asked. A third loves the adventure, just isn’t quite sure when, how, etc.

Each brings something to the table – as we do ourselves. That is something I would venture is rarely thought about. 🙂

On a recent episode of “Star Trek Picard” I spent time with old friends that have been a part of my life for around 35 years. Coming together again after so many years was full of joy, serenity, safety and comfort. This was a group of people I knew and trusted and they were just as I thought they would be. Riker cooking, Troi keeping watch, Picard looking for a place to just be. And those of us who came along for the visit sitting in the background watching, listening, remembering. There is a lot to remember.

As I reflect on 50 odd years of Trek, there is, indeed, a lot to remember. Good and bad, happy and sad. A lot of the person I am today came from those people. More, perhaps, than the ones I spent time with outside of the book, TV or film.

I’ve always thought of “Outlander” as being up in Grandma’s attic reading journals from her trunk. The story spans such a large time period there is a lot of people, let alone history, to take in.

A recent episode of “NCIS” brought home the idea of how these characters become part of a family – the viewer’s family – in ways we don’t always recognize.

Gibbs watched Bishop do something that would have been inconceivable when she first joined the team many years before. Watching him stop and observe her, and then smile, made me smile. The kid, who, when she first came along preferred sitting on the floor with her laptop, was growing up and turning into quite a formidable agent.

I had a similar moment many years ago during a first run viewing of “Star Trek: The Search For Spock”. I was sitting in the theater surrounded by hundreds of other fans and there was a moment where Kirk plotted to embark on a scheme that Starfleet would not sanction. We all knew he would find a way to do want he needed to do and we all shared a knowing chuckle as the plan unfolded. We all knew that no matter what, we would be right at his side, too. We trusted him that much and what was at stake was far too important.

In my life there have been very, very few people that I know I can trust that way. I suspect it is a similar situation with many people. We like to think that our group of friends will always been there, but reality tends to show otherwise for a variety of reasons.

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I treasure those few people, ‘real’ or not, who share the pleasure of their company along with many years of memories. They are true treasure.

“Not all treasure is silver and gold, Mate”

Captain Jack Sparrow
About Janet

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