Monday, November 8, 2010

Ode to Deep Space Nine

A few months ago, I began to watch my Deep Space Nine DVD’s.  I’ve seen every episode multiple times and I’ve owned all seven seasons for a long time now, but I’ve never taken the time to rewatch all seven seasons all the way through.  But, as my friends could tell you, I would always argue about its status as the best Star Trek show, and, in my own humble opinion, the best show ever.  So, toward the end of the summer, I dusted off my DS9 DVD’s, fired up my trusty DVD player, and began to watch. 
            DS9 saw me through high school and most of college, an incredibly awkward (and incredibly long) period of my life.  And as I went through each season, I remembered my life as it was back when the show first aired.  When DS9 began, I was 15 and I hid my Star Trek love because it was the height of nerd-ity to be a trekkie, and fitting in was of tantamount importance to me.  About seven months before the show began, we had moved halfway across the country, from Georgia to Texas.  I was shy and lonely and I had trouble making friends, but Star Trek was always there for me.  I wasn’t lazing about on Saturday nights, I had plans—to watch Star Trek, and that was important to me.  I made sure to be home most Saturday nights because I did not want to miss a single episode. Besides, it was a Star Trek show, and I owed it to Star Trek to watch every single episode.  By the end of the first season, I was hooked, and grateful to have Deep Space Nine, particularly when we again relocated to a new town at the end of my freshman year of high school.  I felt even more shy, awkward, and lonely, and I felt like I had forgotten how to make friends, but DS9 was still there for me on Saturday nights.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that this show helped me get through high school relatively unscathed. 
By the time the fifth season began airing, I was a freshman in college, and DS9 had gotten really good.  Again, I didn’t have too terribly many friends, so my Saturday nights were generally free for DS9.  During the seventh season, I fell in love for the first time (he was a Deep Space Nine fan too).  At the end of the seventh, I had worked up the courage (and convinced my parents) to spend the summer going to school Mexico, so I missed the last six episodes of the show.  I peppered my parents with frequent emails, reminding them to NEVER EVER FORGET TO TAPE EVERY SINGLE EPISODE OF DS9 THAT AIRED WHILE I WAS GONE.  I forbade my boyfriend to tell me anything that happened.  I was determined to enjoy these last episodes without spoilers.  Watching DS9 was one of the first things I did after I got home.  I locked myself in my parents’ spare room and tore through those last episodes of the show.  I think I cried through the most of the last episode.  Watching that show end was like losing a friend. 
            After the end of the last episode, tv stations showed DS9 in syndication for a while, and I watched as much as I could, but after a few years, it sadly began to disappear from tv, I was in my first grad school by this point (another incredibly awkward time of my life, and again I didn’t have too terribly many friends), and I sorely missed its presence on Saturday nights, but I still had Voyager and Enterprise to keep me company.  A few years later I began collecting the dvd’s and The first three seasons of Deep Space Nine kept me company when I was spending a semester in England.  The exchange rate in 2007 was two dollars to a pound, so I was broke quite often.   I watched those first three seasons over and over again with an American friend who loved the show just as much as I do.  We spent hours watching the episodes and discussing the underlying themes, good plot lines, and overall minutiae of Deep Space Nine.  It was fantastic to finally find someone who appreciated it just as much as I do. 
            Fast forward three years to the summer of 2010.  I have a whole group of friends, who though they aren’t the Star Trek fans that I am, are at least familiar with the show. And I am proud to say that I am a trekkie.  I’m still in grad school, and being a TA is not the most lucrative of professions, particularly in the summer.  I fell behind in paying my cable and internet bill, so the cable company saw fit to suspend my service (note to cable company: I have paid my bill). So, without cable or internet, I pull out my trusty DS9 dvds.  And watching the episodes again these last few months has been fantastic.  It makes me glad that I was without cable and internet.  My long years of grad school and years of teaching critical thinking skills to college freshman has enabled me to enjoy this show on a deeper level.  Watching it as a whole, I can now see the way the writers crafted these intricate, detailed, complex, and involved plot lines, and I now marvel at their skill and ingenuity in writing this show—even more than I did in the 90s.  I love this show far more now than I did when it was first on. 
And in rewatching these episodes, I remember seeing these episodes for the first time; I remember the feelings I had when I saw these episodes for the first time; and I remember where I was and what I was doing when I saw these episodes for the first time.  And somehow, remembering my past through the lens of Deep Space Nine makes it seem a little less sad awkward.  I’m definitely not nostalgic for my teens and twenties, but I guess I don’t feel the embarrassment at my awkward and almost friendless state, and I tell anyone who will listen that I am a proud to be a Star Trek fan.  Watching this show makes me remember that I did have a few real friends, who knew I was a complete geek, but didn’t care, and it makes me grateful that I have still have real friends now, who proudly fly their geek flags right along side of me.  And by the time Deep Space Nine ended, I realized that Sisko, Kira, Bashir, Jadzia, Worf, O’Brien, Odo, Quark, Jake, and the many other characters on the show were, in a way, my friends too.  I felt that when I was watching the show, I was a part of their (albeit fictional) lives, and the show had become a part of my life too. 
 I’m about to start the seventh and final season now, and I want to take my time with this season.  I’ll only watch an episode every day or two and when I do get to that last episode, I’ll close my blinds, grab my Kleenex, and quietly watch that last episode one more time.  And I’ll probably cry all the way through the episode.  I always do.