"Our shields absorbed energy equivalent to ninety of our photon torpedoes."
"Ninety?" Kirk turns to the Vulcan crouched over the black box that reminds me of a 1962 View-Master Model G.
"I may add the energy used in repulsing this first attack reduced our shielding power by 20 percent...."
"Mr. Spock, pinpoint the source. Mr. Sulu, Evasive maneuvers."
The smooth, staccato tones of William Shatner float past me in my living room's own personalized blend of cosmic background radiation. An unknown green orb has pounded the Enterprise; the Wagnerian orchestration swelled and the lights dropped for the opening credits. I leaf through the file marked "medical", cringing slightly when the soprano trills after "where no man has gone before...." It seems an unnecessary addition to the second season, which we've only recently started. But after thirty episodes in season 1, we'd grown accustomed to the orchestra-only opening number, so this feels like a cheap cover of the original. Piles materialize on the coffee table: shred, scan, trash, keep.
It's not long before I lose track entirely of where Spock and Kirk were beamed and who's threatening the stability of the universe this time. As I sort through old bills and medical reports, pay stubs and tax receipts, I'm seeing screenshots of my life over the past eleven years: my moves to New York then Chicago, my slow trudge toward a management role, my grad school acceptance, carpal tunnel surgeries, the endoscopy, the celiac diagnosis with off-the-chart levels of antibodies—and the subsequent drop in later labs. This was my first decade of adulthood. From the quickly dimmed dreams of a life in the theater to my prodigal yet passionate return to writing, I worked too hard, pushed my body too far, found myself looking for where the hell my Virgil wandered off to.
Sorting through this file box summarizing my life, I realize that my mind is still stuck in all those years, even well after I left the day job, finished grad school, married, had a son, and now find myself about to fulfill a lifelong dream: to travel and write. That is what I have parroted for years: I wish I could travel and write. And it's happening. And here I am mentally wallowing in old dreams and trials and struggling to see that was the price I paid to make my dream come true.
In one of my favorite books, The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho says, "when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it." And truly, the universe, sans Starfleet command, seems to be aligning to help us. We've been researching where to store the belongings we want to keep and had an amazing offer: Kev's parents have swapped their house for a new single-story home in which to enjoy their retirement—and it has a large, finished basement. And we're welcome to it. We can even set up our bed in a guest room! This has the ring of "moving back in with your parents" as well as "why don't you move all your stuff here, to Michigan, with us...live here!" But really, we couldn't divine a better solution. We want to divide the less exotic travel time between our parents (in Florida and Michigan) anyway to give our son time with both sets of grandparents. Universe: 15, Virgil: Love.
Not only does this sorting and purging reduce our moving load, but it ritually buries these old pains, creating an emotional and mental space for everything to come. Moving is always bittersweet and fraught with transition anxiety; but this time truly does feel different. I've never been so thorough with my pruning, so unwilling to drag anything along that doesn't serve, support, and encourage my family. This has forced me to focus on what I want for me and my family. And I don't want to wallow. Not with all this brightness ahead.
I reach a plastic bag with some papers inside. Not until I unfold the crinkled papers do I recognize my grandmother's hand and remember that after she died seven months ago, my mother sent me a few excerpts of her poetry. The last three stanzas of one poem, addressed to a poet, follow:
"So if there's a chance that you'll try it
And the words seem to come oh so slow
Have more faith in your dreams and your pen,
And some day you'll make it, I know.
The lines that you write may be poor ones
No one but you ever reads them at all
But with every letter you'll feel so much better
Even feel a great ten feet tall.
For beauty, just look out your window
Or into the eyes of a child
Thank God for the blessings he's given
And keep our world peaceful and mild."
There is a box that I'm assembling that has keepsakes; the precious things that don't fit into any file box category besides the sentimental one. But some small slips of paper will, like this miraculous one, find themselves in frames as reminders against wallowing, against grief, against anything but moving forward with hope. Kev told me that many musicians, when they're on the road, bring the contents of their nightstand to make a home of hotels. The picture frame that comes with me with have a rolodex of photos of the people I love and one poem.