One Space Nerd’s Journey…

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One Space Nerd’s Journey…

I come from a time and place where the exploration of space was a normal part of daily life. I stood on the driveway of my childhood home and watched countless rockets launch skyward, carrying satellites, telescope parts, pieces of space stations, and the astronauts to assemble it all. I was part of a culture of engineers, scientists, innovators, welders, mechanics, and countless other trades too numerous to list. Not only my family, but virtually every family I knew, was connected in some way to NASA, and more specifically Kennedy Space Center. At least one parent, and sometimes both, of almost every kid in school with me went each day to the “rocket factory” to make it all work. My own father was a mechanical engineer for nearly 40 years before he retired. Over the course of his career, he worked in some fashion on every project beginning with Mercury and ending when the Shuttle was still flying. On my office desk sits his Kennedy Space Center employee of the month award from 1990 in the form of a stacked model of the Shuttle Discovery. It sits alongside several other models of rockets and planes, as well as models of ships bearing registries such as NCC-1701, NCC-1701D and NCC-74656.

I’m not unlike many people reading this. I have fond memories of eagerly awaiting a new episode of Star Trek to watch with my family. In my case, it was The Next Generation which captivated my heart and mind each week. I’d certainly seen reruns of every episode of The Original Series, and found it quite entertaining as a little girl, even if I didn’t fully understand all it meant at the time. There was just something magical, however, about Captain Picard and his faithful crew. He was an articulate and educated man. He was patient and kindhearted. He led his crew on missions of peace, diplomacy and scientific discovery. He reminded me of my father with his temperate approach to problem solving and the fierce protective instinct he had for those surrounding him. Each week, we would watch the new adventures. Each week, we would talk afterward about the workings of the ship, or the curious nature of a newly encountered life form, or the prospect for how these fictional ideas could one day become our reality.

As I continued to move through my adolescence and into adulthood, Deep Space Nine and then Voyager kept me company and furthered my love of all things Trek. I would gather with my nerdy gang of sci-fi pals to watch each week in our dorm rooms and then later in our tiny apartments. No matter the chaotic phase of life I found myself in, there was always something centering about that hour each week.

I’m in my 40s now, my father has passed, and many of my old Trek pals from college have dropped out of contact. I have rewatched the old episodes and found new things about them I missed the first time around. I have loved seeing the magic of Trek continue through the years with the Kevlin timeline, Discovery, Prodigy, Lower Decks, Strange New Worlds, and Picard. I still eagerly await the new episodes each week, feeling that same excitement I did as a child. What a gift this last season of Picard has been for all of us TNG babies! I watch each episode with a box of tissues because these characters evoke such nostalgia and emotion for me. I love engaging with other Trek fans on social media and though conventions. I have gone total embarrassing fangirl all over Mr. Frakes and Mr. Spiner when meeting them for the first time. I know many of you have done the same, so no judging!

While Star Trek has evolved over its 57 years, one thing has remained constant. In all its iterations and styles, with all its characters and cast members, it has taught me to be curious and adventurous. It has given me permission to dream of a future where science and technology guide our path forward. Most importantly, it has shown me being open minded, accepting, patient and respectful to all others is the true measure of humanity. For this, I’m grateful beyond words. 

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Foster mom, wine snob, super nerd, equality advocate

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