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

From The Reading Table: Lady Hardcastle Mysteries

Looking for a cozy book series that has some interesting twists and turns before the actual mystery?

Author TE Kinsey has created a series focusing on two women of different classes set in the early 1900’s.

The friendship between lady’s maid Florence Armstrong and her employer of many years, Lady Hardcastle, is unusual in that the two share an actual affection towards each other. There is respect and trust built on years of mutual support. It doesn’t hurt that the two have apparently been involved in some … interesting escapades in many locations around the world.

Starting with the very first book in the series, the reader is introduced to suggestions of the two women’s past adventures, albeit with passing references and not that much detail. We are left to imagine…all sorts of things. 🙂 As the series unfolds, the backstory is filled in. A bit.

The series begins with what appears to be a retirement to the country, but since the two can’t seem to be all that far away from murder and mayhem, retirement is in name only.

The stories are interesting, well developed and peopled by a broad array of characters that are intriguing and, often, humorous.

Think “Downton Abbey” meets “Murder, She Wrote”. Sort of.

I particularly enjoy the unfolding of the history of the two along with the attention to detail the author employs.

As for the mysteries, those, too, are well constructed and presented. All in all, a good series to add to your To Be Read List.

There is an interesting interview with the author here.

From The Reading Table: Beryl and Edwina Mysteries

I’m a huge fan of Barbara Rosenblat, who reads a variety of books for audio. One of her most well known series is the Amelia Peabody books. When I discovered that she was reading the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries for author Jessica Ellicott I couldn’t resist checking them out.

The series is set in England in the late 1920’s. It features Beryl Helliwell who is a boisterous American and Edwina Davenport, a very proper British woman. The two are life long friends who reconnect when Beryl decides to stay in England after America has implemented prohibition.

Currently at three books, the stories are centered around Edwina’s home village of Walmsley Parva. The village is full of interesting characters – many hearken back to similar cozy mysteries – and the setting is both comfortable and interesting.

Jessica Ellicott has an interesting website providing information on the series as well as the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter to keep up with the goings on.

I do recommend reading the books in order. There is some back story that feeds not only the main story of each of the book but the series and the character growth will make more sense as you read.

As I said, I love Rosenblat’s work and she does an admirable job with all the voices. I enjoy it so much, the series is one I return to time and again when I need a little something to curl up with.

Please add these to your To Be Read List for the next time you want to read (or listen to) something a bit cozy. 🙂