Traumafessions :: Reader Ben H. on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

e.t. phone a doctor

Right after I watched THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK I came down with a nasty cold, and my illness induced several nights of nightmares in which I was an underpowered Luke Skywalker, stranded on Dagobah. As it turns out, Dagobah didn’t have a DAMN thing on the San Fernando Valley. For a long list of reasons I was sent, two summers after Empire hit the theaters, to live with foster parents in San Antonio. That might’ve been tolerable, if… I wasn’t from Portland. Seriously. Name two places in these United States of America that are more different.

…So of course, there I was, 2000 miles from my family and everything I knew worth a damn, still feeling totally stranded, going through hell in school because OF COURSE I’m a discipline problem (gee, really???), when E.T. goes into theatrical release. Using a Speak & Spell to “phone home” when home is zillions of miles away? Getting dreadful sick and lying dying in the sterile beating heart of a funky polypropylene tent, surrounded by guys in positive pressure suits? Jesus on a pogo stick, talk about isolation piled on isolation.  I had nightmares for weeks afterward, in spite of spending a good part of the film with my eyes screwed shut.

…The guardianship arrangement that had caused me such grief was ended in the summer of ’83.  Even after 25 years of chances to get over it, I’ve never watched it again, and if I go the rest of my life so bereft, I’ll be okay with that.

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