Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What I Talk About When I Talk About Family

Today I got up at 4:15. That's 4:15 in the MORNING. I downed a yogurt bought expressly for this purpose, jammed my suitcase the back of our car, and tried to mentally prepare myself for several hours of travel among crowds of strangers. On the plane I took a dramamine, read a few issues of Hawkeye, and went in and out of sleep. Hours later I touched down in Louisville, Kentucky.

I'm spending a few days here at my old MFA program promoting a book and seeing old friends. My mom is a student here. My best friend graduated with me. Many of my dearest friends are here and, for the first time, so is my husband. It's pretty amazing. It's been a couple of years since I saw a lot of these people but it's as if no time has gone by. We just picked up the same conversations we were having the last time I was here.

Also the napping. Definitely need to pick up the napping I was doing before.
I moved around a lot, a whole lot, as a kid. I didn't get into the habit of making lasting relationships. I'm not sure how these kinds of things really even work. But today I got to the hotel and there were my friends. Smiles all around. Hugs everywhere. I was having drinks with my best friend when my mom joined us along with a kid who worked for my camp several years ago and now attends my MFA program. Small world. I came back to my room and there was Scott. I opened my email and had six messages from friends hoping to see me while I'm in town.

All this reminded me of Voyager and a post I've been meaning to write. One about family. I get that, in their own way, every Star Trek features a family of sorts but none are as explicitly stated as Voyager. The characters refer to Voyager's crew as a family throughout the run. Over and over Janeway mentions bringing wayward souls into the fold. Naomi Wildman is born and raised on Voyager and Tom and B'Elanna fall in love, marry, and have a baby there.

These are people brought together thanks to a string of choices each of them made. With no one there, no Federation, no support, not even letters from home for the first several years, all they have is each other. In the beginning all they have in common is their location but gradually they develop bonds so strong that they'll do anything for one another--as long as they don't have to break up the family.

As a kid, I didn't really get this. Even as a young adult when I rediscovered Voyager, I didn't appreciate it. Now though, as I look a the relationships I've built--relationships I thought for a long time were impossible for me--I appreciate Voyager in a new way. I see the kids from my camp, my fellow actors, my fellow writers, and my husband, and I realize that I'm as fiercely protective of my cobbled-together-family as Janeway is.


  1. I love this post.

    It's interesting that Voyager is the one that most obviously recognizes the crew as family. I wonder if that has to do with have a woman as captain.


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