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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away

Every single one of you has at least heard of the phenomenon that is Star Wars.

You either love it, hate it, don’t care about it or refuse to watch any of them because of the fan base. There is no way to avoid the love for this goofy movie franchise about magic space dudes and their really dangerous glow sticks. The magnificent worlds, the lovable characters, kick-awesome action scenes and unforgettable moments are too many to count.

It’s become so ingrained in our collective culture that every year on May 4, you hear the ever-so-clever ‘May the Fourth be with you.’ Better yet, a date that started as simply a punchline has become a pseudo-holiday for the franchise. So in honor of this, I decided to speak a little bit about my own connection with the galaxy far, far away.

Like many people my age, I wasn’t introduced to the franchise through the movies. Instead, I had my initial exposure via the animated series, the LEGOs and the video games. I knew the stories for the most part, but didn’t actually watch any of them until I was around 12 or 13, and my introduction to the films was an unforgettable one.

I’m going to spare a lot of the details, but at that exact point in time, my little brother, my mother and I were stuck – for lack of a better word. We were in a particularly sour situation, somewhat on the run from my then-stepfather, and he was not happy about it. Us three were waiting for family in Iowa to meet us at the house were hiding in, a friend’s then-vacant home located in San Antonio.

Obviously, this was going to take time. My mom was standoffish, trying to make sure everything was taken care of, and my little brother was rightfully scared. I remember this day as being one of the earliest times I experienced a feeling I now can identify as anxiety. The pressure and fear was crippling. I just kept walking around this strange house with a tee-ball bat in one hand and in the other my little Star Wars LEGO set (it was Luke’s X-Wing for anyone who cares).

Naturally, before long, we got hungry. In one of the most generous acts I have ever personally been on the receiving end of, the neighbors to the house had been informed of our situation, and they sent over a big, delicious pizza and every single Star Wars movie that had been out at that point.

Now again, I wasn’t well-versed in the franchise. So I had the stupid thought ‘Well, one is the first number chronologically, so it’s the first one we watch.’ While most fans would groan at that thought, I have to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever love another Star Wars movie more.

The moment we put that DVD in the player, everything was out of mind. I was immediately hooked into this world, and it was the only world I wanted to think about for that dozen hours. My brother was equally hooked, and at the time was particularly fond of Jar Jar Binks.

We watched all three of the prequel trilogy. I think my brother may have fallen asleep, I can’t say I actually remember checking. The only time I moved through that entire stint was to change the DVDs and maybe use the bathroom once or twice.

Near the end of Episode III, I remember hearing that my family was getting close, and at that point, there was this small part of me that was sad, because I still had three more movies to watch. Ironic, isn’t it?

So we get home, life goes back to normal, and time passes. Shortly after that experience, I get a gift from my mom: it was a DVD copy of every single Star Wars movie, the same style of DVD that we had watched in San Antonio. I then proceeded to put a tent outside and watch the other three movies in privacy, since my older brother wasn’t too fond of the pews and the wooshes.

Ever since, the love has only grown stronger. I’ve seen the cartoons, the TV shows, I’ve watched all the new movies in theaters, I play the video games and still occasionally catch myself staring at the big ol’ LEGO Millennium Falcon set every time I end up near the toy aisle.

I have even done my part in indoctrinating the youth into the nerdy ways. Another one of my little brothers is now around the same age I was when I first got introduced, and he is absolutely in love with the movies. When we watched the original trilogy for his first time a couple years ago, he passed out halfway through Episode V. When I came home from work the next day, I found my VCR and the tapes for Episodes V and VI both upstairs, in his room, completed, and he immediately hit me with his thoughts, questions and theories.

Star Wars has provided us all with hours of entertainment. The franchise has given us an escape, and something to talk about and bond over with friends and family. And for some of us, my self included, it really did feel like a new hope.

May the force be with you, always.

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