“Not As Certain As Being Left Behind…”

I recently read Kelly’s post on not breaking your word a few days ago and now I can’t stop thinking about friendship.  What set me off on my maniacal thinking spree, and you can see from my comments on her post, was the relationship between Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Now, I know I’m a Tolkien Purist and I’ve come to admit it on this site, though I was in denial for a long time.  But overall, I loved what Peter Jackson did with the Lord of the Rings movies.  I think he did a great job.

The one thing that extensively pissed me off (other than the elves coming to save the day at Helm’s Deep, but that’s for another day) is a minor change he made to Sam and Frodo’s relationship.  Sam is the most loyal friend to Frodo and when he made the promise to Gandalf that he wouldn’t leave Frodo’s side, he meant it.

sam and frodo travel

There are tons of scenes in the movies that exemplify this, but there is one scene that strongly contradicts it.  In Return of the King, Gollum frames Sam by making it look like he ate the last of their food and Frodo gets so angry that he tells him to leave.  And Sam leaves.

What?  In the books, Sam never left Frodo’s side.  NEVER. Frodo treated Sam like dirt at times, due to the Ring, but Sam still saw Frodo through to the very end and never once turned around.  I love that perfect model of friendship.

Of course, my thoughts turned to Star Wars and I was curious to know if any of the friendships in Star Wars could pass the Sam/Frodo test.  And I realized that, wait a minute, there are not many friendship relationships throughout the saga that are not impaired by romance.  (N.B. I would love to go into Ahsoka and Anakin’s relationship, but I try to stick generally to the movies in this blog)

The closest relationships that passed the Sam/Frodo test were Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan and Han/Chewie.  Sure, Obi-Wan and Anakin were good friends, but they would not have stood the Sam/Frodo test because Anakin did something like betraying his best bud and murdering a bunch of people.

Out of both remaining friendships, I am leaning more towards Han and Chewie for passing the Sam/Frodo test.  Chewie Chewie hanhad a life debt to Solo, so in a way he was kind of forced upon him.  Sam was required to follow Frodo and stick by him on orders from Gandalf.  Where Han went, Chewie went.  Their quest was to help rid the galaxy of the Empire, whereas Sam and Frodo had to rid Middle Earth of the One Ring.  When Han was put into carbonite, Chewie fought to keep him “alive”, but Han asked him not to start a fight that he knew they would lose, but instead to protect Leia.  This order is different from the one Frodo gave to Sam in the ROTK movie.  Whereas Frodo’s order was said out of hatred because he thought Sam betrayed him, Han was giving Chewie an order to stay behind out of love for both him and Leia.  Different motives, big difference.

Even though Han and Chewie come close and pass the Sam/Frodo test, I’m not sure their relationship has the extra oomph that Sam and Frodo’s has.  A big difference is the fact that throughout 2/3 of LotR, we see Sam and Frodo interact by themselves (okay-Gollum showed up, but I’m not counting him), but other characters constantly surround Han and Chewie, so we don’t exactly know the depth of their friendship.  It’s much too…well, “real” for that extra level.  It’s Sam/Frodo taken down to our everyday lives.  They bicker at times and get frustrated with each other, but they still bounce ideas off of each other and lean on one another to help get through the tough times.

But the more I thought about different kinds of loyal friendships, the more I got to thinking: am I Samwise Gamgee to any of my friends, my ultimate idea of friendship perfection?

I think I was, once.  Similar to how Frodo and Sam lived near each other, I grew up in the house next to a girl who was adopted at age 7 from Brazil.  Our parents basically forced us upon each other: she needed a friend her age that could teach her English.  Our friendship grew exponentially after the first year of language struggles to the point where I could tell her anything.  Her parents moved her to a more “Brazilian friendly” (their words, not mine) community when we were 14 because they thought she was not making enough friends in our hometown.  In her new community, the Brazillians rejected her because she could no longer speak Portuguese and the Americans rejected her because she didn’t fit in with them.  At age 16, she tried to kill herself and was hospitalized.  At 17, she dropped out of high school and left her adoptive parents home swearing never to talk to them again.  At 18, she was a stripper and living with a guy where all they did was smoke a bunch of pot.  By 21, she had cleaned up a little and was no longer a stripper, but nevertheless had trouble holding a job and still was not talking to her adoptive parents.  At 23, she had found a new boyfriend and was moving to Rhode Island to be with him.

I have no idea what happened to her after that.  I stayed close with her all the way up until the end.  She was my Frodo, and I wanted to stick it out with her no matter what.  Because at the end of the day, though we seemed so different, my loyalty to her and our friendship was unparalleled.

But from ages 21-23, I was engaged to my now husband.  I told her I wanted to marry him before we were even engaged.  Somehow, I just knew he was the “one” for me.  Her reaction, however, was not what I expected.  She said, “But there’s still so much we need to do together.  How can you get married so young?”  I told her we could still do stuff together; being married wouldn’t make a difference.  I thought I had pacified her fears and insecurities.

Once I was engaged, I asked her to be my bridesmaid and she accepted graciously.  She was going to be first in line after my sister.  And then 6 months before my wedding, she stopped contacting me.  Last I talked with her, she was moving to Rhode Island.  I called her cell so many times, called her sister (the only person from her family she still kept in touch with), emailed her, called her ex-boyfriend…but all to no avail.  She does not have facebook, so that was no help either.  Eventually she changed her number and the cell number I would call said it was disconnected.  To this day, though, I still have that number in my phone and refuse to delete it.  I keep hoping that maybe she will reach out again and find me.

Did she think I was betraying or leaving her by getting married?  Did she just not have enough money to pay for being my bridesmaid?  Did she think that we were now on two different life paths and felt it better just to cut me off?  Maybe all of these answers, maybe none.

Since then, I have never felt the Samwise loyalty that I felt towards her for any of my other friends.  The closest person wouldfrodo and sam mount doom probably be my husband, and even that’s different since it’s a romantic relationship.  My friendships now reflect a galaxy far, far away, more than those in Middle Earth.  I don’t think it’s sad that my friendships are now closer aligned to those in Star Wars, because I love the real relationship between Chewie and Han.  But I do mourn the strength and bond of my former Middle Earth friendship that I have never experienced since.

“It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam,” said Frodo, “and I could not have borne that.”

“Not as certain as being left behind,” said Sam.

“But I am going to Mordor.”

“I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.”

Scene it on Friday – ANH Scene #25

Scene it on Friday – ANH Scene #25

Ohhhh, how I love this scene.  It gives me goosebumps.  Such a small scene, but so poignant and a huge turning point.

And Obi-Wan knew.  That’s what is chilling.  As soon as Luke returns, Obi-Wan knew that at this moment, everything was changing and the deaths of Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen had to happen for Luke to start his journey.

When Luke makes that decision to go to Alderaan, you can feel the movie shift it’s focus.  Well, really, I think the tone of the movie shifted when Luke sees the dead bodies of his Aunt and Uncle right before this scene, but the shift for Luke happens in his decision.  Gone is the farm boy who wants to go to Tosche Station for power converters or just muck around with his friends.  We now have a man beginning to grow in his place.

Have you guys ever experienced something like what Luke had?  I mean, small moments can feel like this too.  It’s not like we need to experience extreme tragedy and decide to pack up and move across the country to feel that one moment of, “Everything is going to change.”

There have been small moments in my life like that.  One moment would definitely be deciding what college to go to (Mount Holyoke College) and realizing that this could change my entire life.  You come to that decision and it just stills your mind and body.

Another moment would be when I came to the decision that I wanted to marry my now husband.  It really does feel like your world has shifted and you have an old life and a new life and you’re straddling this fine line.  It’s that mental decision of, “I want to go with you to Alderaan”, but instead I said in my head, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”  Just like that, my life changed and I could feel it in my entire being.  There was a life pre-husband and I was about to embark on a journey post-husband.  I’m not saying everyone comes to a eureka moment like that when they are going to get married; that was just my experience.

I wonder how Luke would categorize it in his memory?  Pre-Aunt and Uncle and post-Aunt and Uncle?  Pre-Empire and post-Empire?  Pre-droids and post-droids?  Or maybe even pre-Obi-Wan and post-Obi-Wan?

Luke obi wan burned jawas sandcrawler

EXTERIOR: TATOOINE — WASTELAND.

There is a large bonfire of Jawa bodies blazing in front of the Sandcrawler as Ben and the robots finish burning the dead.  Luke drives up in the speeder and walks over to Ben.

BEN: There’s nothing you could have done, Luke, had you been there.  You’d have been killed, too, and the droids would be in the hands of the Empire.

LUKE: I want to come with you to Alderaan. There’s nothing here for me now. I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.

Non-Existent Life Adventures

Brian Daley did an interview where he described his work on the Star Wars radio/NPR drama.  Has anyone heard those or at least know what I’m talking about (for more info: Star Wars radio drama)?  It’s on my “DO” list in terms of Star Wars knowledge.  There are excerpts of it in my Star Wars Vault, but I’m ashamed to say that it’s been so long since I listened to those CD’s, that I have no memory of it.

“‘I wanted Luke to be like a lot of science fiction fans,’ Daley said to Topps editor Bob Woods for a 1995 interview.  ‘He knows there’s something bigger out there, and that sometimes he doesn’t fit in.’  While the other youths call Luke “Wormie” – a nod to King Arthur’s nickname “Wart” in T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone – Luke ‘doesn’t accept their judgement.  He thinks maybe they’re the ones who are wrong.'”

luke twin sun sunset tatooine

That paragraph really struck a chord with me.  I feel like, as science fiction fans, we know and want to believe there is more out there so badly.  At least for myself, I feel a yearning to be part of something bigger, to be part of an adventure and feel like life isn’t really this.  By “this”, I mean…well…sometimes it’s boring.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve lived a blessed and wonderful life so far, but don’t you ever feel it in your bones?  That you know there’s a bigger world for you?

When we look at sci-fi fandom as a whole, we see that as fans, very often we have similar interests outside of sci-fi.  Many of us read fantasy novels (myself included); a lot of us dress up and do photo shoots to look like we were actually in Docking Bay 94 or a Death Star corridor; some of us dabble in writing our own novels to release our creativity.  We all have some underlying similarities that draw us to this genre and is it really that yearning to be part of something more?

My friend said to me yesterday, “Wow, you are living the American Dream!” as a compliment and I immediately balked.  Wait, no, I was thinking.  I don’t want to live the American Dream…I want to have adventures, like in Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.  I began thinking through my past 10 years: good college, job right after school, marriage, and bought a house.   This is as far as from an epic adventure as possible!  Wait!  Stop the world, I want to get on! If anything, I’m settling my roots even more firmly into cold Massachusetts soil.  I panicked a little bit when I realized that there was no adventure in my life or never has been.

But then I vacillate right back to the realization that my personality does match up closely with Bilbo Baggins.  I like things to be the same as they always were and I complain when someone ruffles the placement of my doilies.  When I watch Fellowship of the Ring and see Frodo and Sam sleeping on cold, hard, rocky ground, I think “Oh dear, that’s definitely not for me.  I love my warm bed.”  I have a good friend who is hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine (he’s a great writer – better than I am – and you can follow his adventure here).  If I really wanted an adventure, I could drop everything and go with him.  But, hmmmm, no thanks.

I don't want this adventure!

I don’t want this adventure!

I’m sure you can definitely say that all these little things in my life have been adventures and they definitely have been.  I mean, life itself is one big adventure.  Right?  Then why do I stand at the edge of a moisture farm and stare off at setting twin suns and feel that longing?

Sulk

I’m at a terrible writer’s block, but I don’t believe it only has to do with this blog.  I have a block in my life right now.  I’m not motivated and I’m becoming resentful of “stuff” in my life.  I don’t want to go into too much detail, but one of the problems is that I’ve reached a plateau.

Throughout the beginning of your life, you are handed education (if you’re lucky).  You go to school from kindergarten through to senior year of high school.  That’s 13 years in my town.  Even before kindergarten, your brain is developing so quickly that everything is a new lesson to learn through social interactions and physical limitations.  If you’re so blessed to go to college, you have four more years to go to class and get more learning and knowledge to soak up, all handed to you on a silver platter.

After college, you can go either to graduate school or find a job and start making money.  I decided to go the route of the latter because I am not interested in grad school and never have been.

I’ve begun to discover that you need to help yourself if you want to keep learning.  I guess I expected to continuously be motivated in my life and job and to always find fulfillment.  But everything becomes routine after a while: marriages/relationships, jobs…just life in general.

So you need to find a way to shake it up.  You.  Yourself.  No one else.  You need to make yourself learn because it’s no longer supplied to you all the time, everyday.  And when you don’t have the opportunity to learn from others, you have to unlearn what you have learned.  Grow, and then grow some more.

This week has been funky for me with this blog.  I have felt downtrodden and not interested in writing about Star Wars.  I’ve been jealous of bloggers who live on the West Coast and get to go to tons of Cons because it means they have more material to write about.  I then got really sad because the one Con I have been SO excited about this year (BSG folk + one of my favorite authors) is during my family vacation.

Yes, I’m sulking, and yes I’m pouting.  But by admitting that I’m in a funk helps me move on and helps me to get out of it.

Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.  I am not going to try to write a post that I don’t feel right now (I have been working on one, but it’s really half hearted and not flowing).  I am going to write how I feel at this moment and what’s going on, even if I’m the only one who reads it.  If I want to learn more, I need to make the effort to do so.

So for “do”ing – I’m going to invest myself more into Star Wars and try to learn beyond what I know.  As of right now, I’m not sure if that means I’m going to read more EU books (I read a great snippet from the new book Into the Void: Dawn of the Jedi that was in the latest Insider that peaked my interest).  Maybe it just means surrounding myself with more or unlearning what I have learned already.  There’s always something new in this universe, and with the release of VII rapidly approaching, there’s even more fresh news to be excited about.

As for “do not” – I am not going to be complacent.  Not only in my blog, but in my job and my relationship.  Trying is unacceptable to a Jedi.  We DO.  And when you have to do something yourself, it means picking your feet back up, standing tall, and getting to work.  Learning what works and what does not.

Ok.  I feel more motivated.