I am in a sick bay, resting in an aqua chamber. As I am unable to use the holodeck, images are projected in front of me—keeping my mind off the healing. In reality, I am in my stepfather’s rarely used home office—there’s a desk, a typewriter, some file cabinets. There’s also a queen-sized waterbed—usually for guests. It is the very early 1980s. I am around 7. I am sick—sick enough to warrant being in a room with a television. When they weren’t sure if I was ill, I was confined to my room—no TV. But this is one of the asthma times—I struggle to draw breath, counting the minutes until I can ease my lungs with another puff of the now-recalled Primatene mist emergency inhalers. My stepfather is changing the channel for me—I’m too sick to get up, and this is before remotes. There aren’t many choices—just three channels. He stops on a show—men in similar looking clothing—just different colors and an exotic locale. “You should watch this.” “What is it?” Star Trek. He tells me it’s famous. I don’t yet hate him enough to just roll my eyes and reject his suggestions outright. So I watch. I like it so much that we figure out from the paper TV Guide when the show will be on for the week I end up at home. I find myself in the office in the back of the house frequently even when well, searching out the show. I’m in love. I am Spock, of course. I am a geek already—a misfit and a brain. I have hope that one day the only asset I can identify in myself—that brain—will be attractive to the right people. I assume I’ll have to be older, when other people will need my brain and its superior homeworking abilities. Years later, I am excited about The Next Generation. I am not jaded or angry that the Original will now be called the Original—it was always in repeat for me. Like I Love Lucy and Bewitched, it was never mine. TNG was. What did that younger me need that Star Trek gave? I stayed a misfit and a brain. My asthma only got under control when I had access to insurance in my late twenties, so every fall and winter would see me in the back room for weeks at a time. My mother and stepfather were volatile—drinking too much; fighting too much. I hid more and more in schoolwork. My natural teenage tendencies to pull away were exacerbated. Star Trek is utopic, despite its imperfections—there’s fighting and greed. There are unavoidable technical difficulties. There is a capricious god named Q, who had the benefit of seeming more approachable than the Southern Baptist god to whom I had been pledged—from whom I was fleeing. Star Trek had a system in place: the Federation. I don’t think I grasped, when I was younger, that the Federation was like a government agency—the military, the CDC, NASA combined. For me, it was our future—all of ours. And it was glorious. The leaders were generally wise—and when they weren’t, they could be relieved of command. Science and knowledge were embraced—the brainier the better. Class seemed to melt away—the uniform hid where you’d come from—resources on the ship were allocated equally. The replicator could provide you with food. It could probably provide you with other essentials—a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale when your stepfather wouldn’t give you the money to buy it, leaving you to go up to the teacher during a break and explain. “Oh,” she would whisper, “we set aside some books for kids like you.” And then there were the lessons. Having a Russian officer still mattered in reruns in the 80s. Having a black female officer still mattered in the deep south. Saving the whales mattered. Seeing what everyone could accomplish when poverty wasn’t in their way mattered. Seeing therapy as normal and necessary probably helped me reach out for it in graduate school. But the moment I return to in memory the most was an episode in which Beverly Crusher fell in love with an alien, only to find out that the alien lived in host bodies. She found she could still love it when it jumped to another man. But she couldn’t when it jumped to a woman. I cried. Sobbed, really. And thought about—for the first time—how wrong it was to emphasize the type of body one loved. It was a window into a world in which a woman might love someone in another woman’s body—and how that was still love. Human interaction—how we might work and play and love across our differences was much more interesting than the sliding doors and the hand-held communicators. Today, I’m a teacher at UC Davis, where I teach writing, rhetoric, and critical thinking; as a non-tenure track faculty, I am part of the Academic Federation. Jean-Luc Picard told me to “engage.” And I did. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related LauraAkers Beautiful!