A happy memory to balance the misery...
When I was six, my dad had a habit of wandering in and out of our lives. We live in a white apartment house next to the Veteran's Park. It was a nice central location. I could ride my bike to Coburn Park or ride in the opposite direction to Pete Debe's corner store. He had the best selection of penny candy. If he was working, and not his skinny brother, we would always get extra candy. Sometimes I'd dare myself to ride my bike across the walking bridge. I had to be feeling really brave to do that though as the bridge scared the hell out of me. It towered over the Kennebec River right beneath the dam. The currents were swift, and even the calm areas were filled with whirlpools. I had nightmares about falling down into the water and dying. But the best part of that apartment was that my Uncle Jimmy lived with his wife downstairs from us.
Uncle Jimmy was the best. He was young and very cool in my five year old eyes. He smoked cigarettes and drank Budwiser. He had long hair and he wore a leather head band around his head. He let me listen to "American Pie" over and over again. He had an enormous dog named Smokey who used to let me ride him around their living room. Uncle Jimmy used to let me hang out with his friends and him. They'd listen to rock on the radio, and I'd roll their cigarettes using Uncle Jimmy's cigarette rolling machine or I'd color in my aunt's numerous coloring books with her sharp unbroken Crayolas. If I was really lucky I'd get to spend the night. Jimmy would order a pizza from Al's Pizza and buy me a Pepsi.
One night I was hanging around, hoping that Uncle Jimmy would let me stay the night when he announced "Let's go to the movies." I didn't think he meant me but I hoped deep inside that he did. I had never been to the movie theater to see a movie. A couple of times my parents brought us to the Drive In but we could only watch the opening cartoon, and then we had to lie down on the blankets in the back. My parents usually made out during the whole movie which was pretty disgusting to watch so we ended up actually sleeping. My uncle looked at me and yelled "Well what are you waiting? Go tell your mom." I ran upstairs my heart thudding, hoping she'd be in a good mood and say yes. She was and she even helped me change into a dress.I walked hand in hand with my uncle and my aunt to the local theater. It was a beautiful old building called the Strand Theater. Originally the theater featured operas and musicals but now it held one ratty old screen. There were these oil paintings of trees along the walls that slanted down towards the screen. The chairs were narrow and uncomfortable but covered in red velvet. Ornate ivy and flowers covered the dark wood walls. Two heavy red curtains framed the screen.
Jimmy bought popcorn, Jr. Mints, and cokes for everyone. We settled into seats near the front with our treats. The lights dimmed, and my heart began to pound from excitement. First there were the silly advertisements with dancing sodas and candy bars. My uncle whispered to me that these ads hypnotised you into wanting buy stuff. And then came the opening notes, accompanied with by the famous white words scrolling off into space. Star Wars. I was entranced. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. For months afterwards, I made my mom put my hair in to Princess Leia buns. My uncle even bought me a light saber. It was hard rigid plastic and glowed in the dark. I had a little girl crush on Luke (when I was older I realized Hans Solo was the man to want). I can still remember smelling the popcorn, and holding my uncle's hand during the scary parts. I think he was as excited by this movie as I. One the way home, he made starship sounds, and we'd break into light saber fights with tree branches.
It was Star Wars that not only interested me to a future love, Sci-Fi, but showed me that there imaginary worlds that could life me from my all too often miserable life. It was Star Wars that lead to a rich fantasy life that would eventually lead to a ravenous hunger for books.