If you think you might have The Force, please raise my hand.
Hehe. See what I did there? Anyway. Hi!
Life continues to kick my heart in the ass. So today, instead of talking about my current condition, we’re going to hop into a TARDIS and fly back to the 90’s, which for me, consisted of trolls (no, like…not the internet ones…like..the dolls), ice cream sandwiches, and, you guessed it, Star Wars.
Aaand now all the hardcore nerds are losing they’re minds, thinking, “HOW COULD THE 90’S BE ABOUT STAR WARS YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT THEY CAME OUT IN THE 70’S FACTS FACTS FACTS FACTS THAT ONLY A FEW PEOPLE KNOW YOU ARE NOT A REAL FAN GO DIE IN IN HOLE AAAAHHHHHHH.” Okay. Calm the fuck down. Yes, I know Star Wars came out in the 70’s, but during the 90’s they re-released the films into theaters so all the little children in neon clothing could have their minds blown by Harrison Ford and cheap, yet effective, film tricks.
The first time I saw Star Wars was in theaters, between the ages of six and seven. I remember being absolutely terrified of Jabba the Hutt, and feared he would come out of the screen and eat me, but aside from that, I fell in love, especially with Han Solo. My mom raised her kids on Star Trek and the X-Files…so a movie trilogy about the adventures of space, my favorite theme ever? Pfft…I didn’t stand a chance.
The reason I love Star Wars, aside from it just being all together fanfuckingtastic, is because when I was little, my home was not exactly the best. While I was not nearly as sick as I am now, there were still a lot of problems. My mom was somewhat a young mother; she had my brother when she was only 21, and my sister when she was 23. She was married, but their father was in short, a truly horrible person. She got divorced, and then married my father, who unfortunately was an equally large douchebag, and was divorced again by the time I was 2. After fighting for custody for all three of us, she had nowhere to go, so her parents, my grandparents, took us in. The house was small, but they didn’t have enough money to buy a new one. So, we made it work with six people, in a small house, in a poor neighborhood.
My grandmother was and still is the heart of our family. She was a stay at home mother, and a stay at home grandmother. She made every meal for us, she cleaned, she took us to school, helped us with homework (as best as she could despite being an immigrant with very little education, that is), and was also my angel and my protector against the rest of my family. My mother and grandfather both had and still have horrible anger issues, and generally always made my siblings and I feel like we were burdens on them. Living in that house was constantly like playing with fire…any second, even a bit of smoke would cause an enormous explosion, and everything would fall apart. We got in trouble for everything, and it was a general nightmare.
On top of that, my grandfather was also an alcoholic. That meant he’d steadily get more and more angry as the day went on, because he started drinking around 9am and wouldn’t stop drinking until 9pm. There were fights every single day about all kinds of things. However, one of the most constant ones was on the subject of race, and about the fact that his grandchildren were terrorists and horrible, disgusting Arabs.
Let’s back up a minute to give you my racial and religious layout: My mother’s family comes straight from Austria. My grandmother is Catholic and my grandfather was Catholic until The War (In my family, The War meaning WW2) killed his father, and he became furiously god hating (I refuse to call him Atheist because surprise, surprise, not all Atheists are angry, violent, god haters). My mother, raised as a Catholic anyway, converted to Islam in college because, as she told me, she just sort of liked it better. She met my siblings’ father, who was from Jordan, and after that divorce was with my father, who was from Egypt. So, after all that, I ended up as a half Egyptian, half Austrian, raised very religiously as a Muslim, in an Austrian/Catholic household, in a predominantly Vietnamese and Mexican neighborhood in America. How’s that for diversity!
Nowadays, I just say that I was raised to be half Catholic and half Muslim, because at the end of it all I think that is the most true thing I can really say. We celebrated both types of holidays, and that really would have been okay if it wasn’t for my angry, alcohol-filled grandfather. As we grew up, my sister became more involved with Islam, while my brother became an All-American cowboy type in order to overcompensate for the fact that he attributes his painful past with religion and being half Arab, which in reality has nothing to do with our past at all. I know for a fact that you can be any religion, gender and race and still either be a giant dick or a wonderful person. I’m honestly not really sure what my mom is anymore, but as for me, I get the most out of studying all religions, because in reality they have a whole lot more in common than they are different. My grandmother would always tell me during the fights that there is one God, and that everyone sees God differently, but it doesn’t make them wrong. I think that’s a good way to sum up what I think.
Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be about Star Wars? Yes! It is!
The older I get, I find that most of my childhood memories are fading away. Which makes sense, because every day I get new memories, not to mention I’ve been told by most therapists that I’ve suppressed like 80% of it. One memory, however, still remains incredibly vivid. There was one night where my grandfather snapped, as always. Sometimes the fights would calm down, and other times they would erupt to where we would have to leave for a while until my grandfather went to sleep. This particular time was the latter. I heard my grandfather screaming at my mother, and her screaming back. I remember him calling us dirty Arabs, and saying something along the lines of, “I better sign up then, because otherwise we’ll all have our heads chopped off.” That was a pretty scary thing for a little kid to hear, because at the time, I had literally no idea what he was talking about.
Sidenote: Contrary to popular belief, being raised as a Muslim, I was never told to kill people, that others who weren’t like me were going to hell, or that I was supposed to take over the world. We mostly prayed for people who were suffering and were told to be kind, and that if you have the ability to help someone, whether with money, food, or just simply comfort, it is your responsibility as a human being to help another human being, regardless of religion or race. I didn’t stop being Muslim because it was violent, or dangerous. I stopped being Muslim because I was also taught that God knows what is in your heart, so he knows if you are doing something for the right reasons or wrong reasons, and if you are praying just to look devoted, or if you actually meant it in your soul. And for some reason, I didn’t feel like I did mean it, so I went to find out why. I also stopped going to Masjids because while the religion never really made me feel judged, the people in the particular community I was in did. Being mixed race was awfully hard, and made me an outcast in the community I was involved with. But it’s made me an outcast in most social groups I’ve ever been a part of…that’s why I don’t belong to any of them anymore. Anyway, I digress.
After all the screaming and slamming, my mother hurriedly grabbed her kids and packed us into her forest green mini van, and took us to the theater. We were all quiet with tears in our eyes, not really sure what to do. I was standing in the hallway watching my mom and grandfather fight, and I don’t know where my siblings were, but it was so loud you didn’t even have to be in the same state to hear them.
Having to deal with racism in general pretty much sucks. When it’s in your family, it sucks even more than usual, because you can’t walk away from it. Anyone who has dealt with racism knows you can never truly walk away because it always hangs over you, but in my case, I couldn’t even go home and shut the door and hide like I wanted to, because it infested my hiding place too. I had no escape from it. I dealt with it in school and I dealt with it at home…but home was worse, because the person who was supposed to protect me, who was supposed to be the closest thing to a good father I could have, absolutely hated me for something I had no choice in. That made my heart ache. It still does sometimes.
We sat in the car for a while, and my mom hugged my brother who was sitting in the front seat. Then my sister and I climbed over the benches, and hugged her too, and we cried more. My family’s life has always been painful and traumatic, and we hid it well, but sometimes it leaked out because it just became too much. Despite my mother’s anger, and me still not getting along with her even today, she sincerely tried in her own way to be a good mother, she tried to keep us safe, and tried be a strong woman. And every now and then, her hard facade would be let down for just a little while, and we saw that despite her being a mother, despite her being strong, she was ultimately just a scared human being, like us. And I could never blame her for that. I was scared too.
We finally composed ourselves and we went to buy tickets. I don’t think my mom really cared what we watched, but she happened to choose Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. We sat in the theater, our hearts rattled. We didn’t really pay attention to the previews, and we didn’t think we cared about the movie either. But then, that famous composition blared from the speakers:
BA BA BA BAAAAA BAAAAA
BA BA BA BAAAAAAAAAA BA
BABABABA BAAAAAAAA BAAAAA
And those opening lines started scrolling, which I probably didn’t read, because I was seven. But I looked at those words, and I looked at those stars behind them, and my heart stopped rattling, and instead sat still, and I felt like everything was going to be okay. At one point during the movie, I looked over at my sister, and then at my brother, and they were both smiling brightly, in awe of everything that was going on, their faces lit up by the movie screen. I looked at my mother, too. She wasn’t smiling…but I hoped she was on the inside…a little at least.
We came out of the theater, and my brother decided he’d call the movie, “Return of the Jenny.” We didn’t know anyone named Jenny, and till this day I have no idea why that was so funny. But at the time, it was hilarious. We walked out to the parking lot, and it was late, and we were small and tired, but the mood of my family had changed. The pain of what happened wasn’t gone…but Han Solo, Chewy, and Luke dulled the pain a little. I remember the sky being incredibly clear and black; it must have been summer. I remember looking up, and thinking that they were all up there celebrating the defeat of the Empire. I was so happy for them, but my heart sank a little, realizing that I’d have to go home to Vader. I wished with all my little heart that we wouldn’t have to go home, but I knew it was inevitable. That left me with one choice only; it was time to become a Jedi.
Well. This has by far been the hardest thing to write. I don’t talk very much about my past at all, for obvious reasons. But to anyone who read this in its entirety, I sincerely thank you.
And P.S. I know Han Solo isn’t the only hero, or even the main one. But to me, he is the coolest. Ever. And now, I leave you with a quote as always, one that is very, very dear to my heart.
Beep beep beep whistle, whistle boopdoop baboop whistle.
-R2D2, Star Wars