Writing, reading, and TV were about the only things I had to get through that summer. I penned a horrible mess of a manuscript—friends who later read it in high school can probably attest to that—but even after shoving it into a drawer, it stuck with me. I was never sure if that was because it was my lifeline to normalcy during that move (which was more than one move, in reality; there was a transient apartment while my parents looked for a house, so I didn’t even bother trying to meet anyone that summer) or just the beginning of what I knew I wanted and needed to do for the rest of my life, but there was one thing I was sure of.
One character in the book, the only one without a first person voice, the character whose storyline had to be told in third person, would be loosely based on an actor I never met and never would, someone whose portrayal of what would become an icon in pop culture. He is who I saw in my head every time I wrote; even as I later peeled way the layers of that character to get a better feel for who he really was, he is who I pictured.
Anyone who knew me in junior high (and remembers me, I never count on that) knows I was a huge Star Trek fan. I never saw it on its original run (we were in Germany) but I lived for the afternoon reruns every day. I was so invested in it that my mother actually gave up trying to peel me way from my 13” black and white TV to come to dinner, and allowed me to eat as soon as it was over.
I loved that show so much that it made me the butt of a few jokes (never really mean spirited, surprisingly) and even my favorite journalism and history teacher noticed it (probably because of all the Star Trek articles I submitted to the school paper) and poked fun at me for it. I don’t even remember what the subject on hand was, but I clearly remember him saying in front of the entire 8th grade history class that I was daydreaming about taking Captain Kirk in hand and skipping into the sunset.
Everyone laughed. I turned beet red, but I laughed, too. He wasn’t being mean and at the time it was freaking funny…and in the back of my head I was thinking he was so, so wrong.
If I was going to skip into the sunset, it was damn well going to be with Mr. Spock.
I still can’t tell you why I loved Spock so much; I loved everything Star Trek, but it was Spock that kept me hooked. It was Spock whom I heard in my head so many nights when I was agonizing over stupid things I’d said and stupid things that had been said to me. It was Spock I thought of when trying to puzzle over why who I was wasn’t good enough for anyone else, why—even those who were supposed to love me unconditionally—people kept telling me if I would just do THIS or I would just do THAT, I would be, you know, normal.
To be anyone other than myself would be…illogical.
I learned a lot about self-acceptance through Spock’s version of logic. As a consequence, I learned a lot about accepting other people for who they were, too.
The logical step after Star Trek, after totally trying to grok Spock, was to follow Leonard Nimoy. After all, he was Spock, no matter what his first memoir said. I started watching Mission Impossible reruns, and when he popped up as Paris, I was overjoyed. I watched the hell out of that, and thusly was the foundation for Ron Gallery formed.
|He looked a lot like this guy
It was easy; I knew things about him no one else did. I knew he wasn’t the horrible person he seemed to be. I knew his motives. I knew just how deeply he loved the people in his life and how hard he was contorting himself to protect them. I couldn’t put all of that into the book, because no one wants to read a 1000 page novel by a first time writer.
But anyone who stuck with the whole series, who read The Flipside of Here, knows who Ron Gallery really was.
And now they know who he looked like.
I was crushed when I got online this morning; the first thing I saw when getting onto Facebook was an RIP Spock update. That I knew Leonard Nimoy had been ill didn’t change that. That he was 83 didn’t change that. All I knew was that someone so fundamental to my adolescence, someone who literally helped form how I would learn to view the world, how to treat other people, and how to be a bit more comfortable with myself, was gone.
He wasn’t Spock. I know that.
He was Spock. I know that, too.
I know that I am nowhere near being alone in how his work affected personal growth, and in my sorrow that he’s gone.
I also know that I’m not the only one who shed a few real tears this morning. He lived long. He prospered. He was 83…and it wasn’t enough.
That was one hell of a final tweet. And I hope he knew that he'll be kept in a million memories for a very, very long time.