Idaho Vacation, Part 3: Han Solo Will Never Need Botox

This Lego action figurine does not come with interchangeable gray hair. http://www.squidoo.com

Due to more snow, our flight last night did not even take off from Twin Falls, eighty miles away–it was cancelled altogether. But while we’re here, we’re doing as the locals do.

Last week we went to Tuesday Science Story Hour at the Ketchum Children’s Library. Miss Ann, an ageless font of knowledge about the natural world, anchors a circle of usually over twenty preschoolers and mesmerizes all present with books, felt board demonstrations, fossils, more recent skeletons like that of a mouse, found in her neighbor’s attic, and a dehydrated chipmunk, courtesy of her neighbor’s cat. The last time we went, in August, Miss Ann brought a lizard of some kind, and meal worms for him to eat. Someone had made the mistake of feeding the lizard beforehand, though, and the meal worms lived to see another day.

This week, Miss Ann brought Jaja the hamster.

Everyone got to feel how fluffy Jaja was; I felt lucky to escape without Mbot insisting we take Jaja home with us.

Meanwhile, Gbot had other things to attend to. After circumnavigating the library at a run (trying to catch him between the shelves was like racing down the corridors of the Death Star in search of a way out), he discovered a side room in which an older kid, too old, apparently, for Miss Ann and Jaja, was examining a pop-up Star Wars book.

The older kid took great pleasure in describing, in appropriately hushed tones, each character and pop-up setting. Most of it was news to me because, although I’ve seen the first four episodes–the original as an eleven-year old in 1978 nine months after it opened–and have watched the original many times over, I intentionally missed the final two. I was just not interested in armies of computer-generated organisms fighting epic battles. I think I wanted to hold onto my memories of a young Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

Then the big kid turned to the page with Han Solo. Gbot and I stared, fascinated.

Matthew Reinhart's "Star Wars Guide to the Galaxy"

I’m willing to bet we were fascinated for different reasons.

I was struck as though by a light saber by the fact that Han Solo hasn’t aged.

And at the same time, I was struck by the fact that I have.

It wasn’t about recognizing my own mortality–I got that when I became pregnant with Mbot and felt, as I never had before, how necessary I was for the life growing inside me, but how expendable I was, too, creating my own replacement. No, this moment with Han Solo had to do with how immortal he was. He hasn’t aged one day since 1977.

This week, I rediscovered fairy tales in the books my mother had saved from my own childhood, and so I was primed to consider how George Lucas is the twentieth-century Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson. How Han Solo will live, brown-haired and wrinkle-free (alongside Harry Potter) for centuries beyond my allotted maybe-four-score-plus-maybe. How I had witnessed the birth of this fairy tale, and how much power these immortal stories hold, a literary web we take for granted that connects us and our children not just to each other but to our past.

I was able to get seats for us on a flight on Friday. We are crossing our fingers. Maybe one cool thing about the Millennium Falcon is that it can land in snow?

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