When I was 5 years old my grandma asked me what I wanted to be for Halloween and I told her I wanted to be Hans Solo. This was not a shock coming from a tomboy with wild hair and scabs instead of knees. One advantage I had growing up poor was that I had a brother who was 3 years older than me. Since I didn't like to play with girl toys, I got to share toys with my brother: cap guns and cowboy hats for cops and robbers and plastic light sabers for Starwars, which usually ended with my brother kicking my ass.
My brother wanted to be Luke Skywalker, at the time I would have sworn he was much more akin to Darth Vader. My brother was fiercely emotional and equally discontented from the moment he arrived in this world. So Luke Skywalker appealed to his need to be saved from outside in. He longed for a secret code that would transform him from a scared little boy into a Jedi Knight. He wanted to ultimately to overcome his fear and be a hero that people could love instead of fear or ridicule.
By the ripe age of 5, I on the other hand, was okay with myself. I had a difficult home life and a strict church life, but I was easy going and likable. When I could not find love or attention in the traditional places, I found them in the gaggle of friends that followed me around the playground. I thought life was adventure and couldn't wait to go to school. I knew school would be this magical world with new people and friends. I was not disappointed, I learned all sorts of cool things like when the teacher told me to put my head down for talking, I could turn my head to the side and keep talking.
By the time I started school, my brother had already been held back a grade and was having a hard time making and keeping friends. Though he identified with Luke Skywalker, he never seemed to find the outside force that would make him whole on the inside and so his discontentment grew. Being a year older than most of the kids in his class meant he could use his size and strength to bully the other kids. Unfortunately this was not conducive to making friends, he had few tools to find love and friendship.
I never thought much about his perspective, because more often that not I was in the direct line of fire of his anger and emotional turmoil. I steered clear of him and grew leaps and bounds in school. I identified with my hero, Hans Solo because he was everything I knew I would be when I grew up. He had the coolest ship, a best friend by his side and he even got the girl. He always did the the right thing, not because he was a member of a society that bound him to honor, but because it was the right thing to do. In the meantime, he had as many adventures as Luke Skywalker, except he got to have fun, he got to drink with species from all over the planetary system, he got to learn what he was made of and he even got feisty princess who would love him for all time.
It is already October and Mattie and I are making plans to go to the Halloween Parade in the Village with some friends this year. I was thinking about being Hans Solo. Can you picture me, a woman with large breasts who barely broke five feet tall as Hans Solo? Well maybe I can be content in the knowledge that if anyone got to grow up and be Hans Solo, it was me. Except the subway is my ship, my best friend is a lot less hairy and every gay boy in Manhattan has a crush on my girl. It is a life that I am sure Hans Solo would appreciate as much as I appreciated his.