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My "Stargate Atlantis" Summer MAG
When I moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Norman, Oklahoma, the Earth didn't implode, the sky didn't come crashing down, and the sea didn't erupt in tsunamis. Instead, it was as if I had left Earth entirely and was alone on another planet, separated from almost everyone I loved and everything I knew. Well-meaning, friendly aliens surrounded me, always smiling in sympathy but never endeavoring to ease my loneliness. Worse, it was 99 degrees with 70 percent humidity. That, in regular English, means I couldn't step outdoors without sweat sticking my damp T-shirt to my skin within a matter of minutes.
Trapped indoors, stranded with my regrets, I became utterly miserable. I had nothing to think about except how much I missed my friends and Albuquerque. Even little things, like starting the morning with a McDonald's biscuit instead of a Golden Pride breakfast burrito, added to my depression. I couldn't even look forward to school in August – I would be an uncomfortable, unwelcome newcomer. But every day, the mail brought hope in the form of a Netflix envelope containing a DVD of my favorite television show, “Stargate Atlantis.”
I suppose I should take a moment to explain for those who have never seen the show. The Stargate is a circular contraption used to travel to other planets. The military developed Stargate Command under Cheyenne Mountain, and sent teams through the Stargate to explore other worlds. Got it? Cool.
In the midst of my bleak transition from moving, “Stargate Atlantis” was my flashlight in a power outage. As soon as the mailman slipped that scarlet envelope into our box, I rushed outside, snatched it, ripped it open, and eagerly perused the episode list. I waited for my dad to leave for work, for my mom to take off on some errand, and for my brother to go play with his neighborhood friends. As soon as I was alone, I slid the precious DVD into the player and anxiously anticipated another adventure through the Stargate.
Don't get me wrong. I wasn't always this attached to TV shows. In fact, I fondly rolled my eyes when my friends chattered on and on about television characters who were – hello! – fictional. And when “Glee” came out, the excited babble just increased. I could barely speak to some of my friends without enduring a long-winded analysis of Will and Emma's chances of getting together. Such devotion to fictional characters was stupid. At least, I thought so – until I met Dr. Beckett.
As the head physician on Atlantis, he had a kind word for everyone, he was dedicated to his craft, he was compassionate, humble, and friendly, and he could tolerate the most obnoxious people. Despite his fictitiousness, somehow, in the midst of my sadness and loneliness, he became my best friend. In fact, I came to know and love all the characters. Their lives became part of mine, as if we had been friends for years. Though Dr. Beckett came first in my affections, Dr. McKay, Dr. Keller, Colonel Sheppard, and Teyla Emmagan were close seconds.
When I watched “Stargate Atlantis,” reality was suspended and I participated in a world where my problems were replaced by more pressing concerns for the fate of the Earth and the universe as we know it. The Oklahoma humidity was awful, but at least I wasn't in a desert, attempting to fend off vicious aliens with a jammed gun. The mosquitoes tormented all of us, but thank goodness I didn't have a giant alien bug attached to my neck. Maybe I didn't have anyone to talk to, but I wasn't fawning over a creepy guy with addictive pheromones.
I had no real friends, but every day I got to travel with the team through the Stargate into an unknown, primeval, dangerous world. Sadly, my friendships with the characters ended when school began and I had to return to the real world. But for a while, the show was an inexpressible comfort.
I read somewhere about a psychological defense mechanism called displacement where we transfer emotions from one object to a more acceptable one. In a way, that's how I dealt with my depression over moving. I had already grieved over leaving my drama group, my school, my church, Golden Pride, and Dions, and I didn't want to be sad about them anymore. I wanted to move on, to stop grieving. I had become particularly attached to Dr. Beckett, and when his character died in the emotional episode “Sunday,” it was my second crisis of the summer. I cried myself to sleep that night, the two nights after that, and even a couple weeks later, I couldn't think of Dr. Beckett without tearing up. It sounds silly that the death of a fictional character affected me so much, but I displaced my grief onto Dr. Beckett, and when he died, it was as if I had moved and left my friends all over again.
However, I refuse to end on a sad note, so I will take a page from Stargate Atlantis's book, and finish this story with hope. I still miss my friends and my drama group in Albuquerque, and sometimes I find myself thinking that it would be so much easier if we had never left New Mexico. But I've moved on, made friends, and become accustomed to the culture and climate of Oklahoma. Though I will never be numb to tornado anxieties and will always complain about the humidity, thanks to Dr. Beckett and company, I left my depression behind on that lonely planet when I went through the Stargate and returned to Earth.