Dreams are the answers to questions we’ve not yet learned to ask.
~Agt Fox Mulder.
I am beyond excited! Tonight is the premiere of a short run of the X-Files. I grew up with this show. It’s been over two decades since the show first aired, and it gave me a grounding point through some pretty tough times.
I remember that first night, watching the pilot. It was Friday night, when Friday was the hotspot. That first show was aliens. Nearly a turn off for me, and those were never my favourite episodes at all. From the moment the eerie, distinctive music started, I was hooked, though.
This show carried me all the way through high school, and partly through college. It saw me through the bitterness of being the odd child who reads all the time. It became a refuge against the ridicule. And it, in no little part, shaped who I was to become. I dove into learning about forensics, in all its myriad glory. I devoured shows like The New Detectives, and books by John Douglas, and Robert Ressler. This was what I wanted to do!
A criminal justice class my last year of high school allowed me the opportunity to put some of my forensics knowledge to use during mock trials. I despise acting, but enjoyed being expert witness. That class also provided the joy of a guest speaker from the State Bureau who was an arson investigator.
When I started college, my focus was forensic toxicology. That lasted only until I took my first psychology class. Then I wanted to be like Mulder, and Douglas, and Ressler. Unraveling the dark side of humanity and bringing closure to people appealed to me. It’s something not everyone is suited for.
(I hope this short run lets Mulder show off more of his forensic psychology skills. I was always a little sad that we saw more of Scully’s specialty than Mulder’s)
From there, I discovered the wonders of forensic anthropology, and that became my focus. I was lucky. My college happened to offer a special program just for that. Kathy Reichs had just departed, off on a sabbatical that became permanent when she became a bestselling author. Dr Karen Ramey-Burns, an anthropologist attached to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, took over, and she was my favourite teacher.
(I discovered just now that this brilliant, empathic woman passed away in January of 2012. Such a loss.)
Not long into college, my life took an unexpected turn that derailed all of my plans. The X-Files once again became a solid anchor to ground me. In September of 1999 I suffered a retinal detachment in my right eye. The next few years were full of fear, uncertainty, and no small amount of bitterness. I remember so vividly, watching during this time, snug in my papasan chair. Chupacabra, pottery that made music, Mulder missing, Doggett who took Scully’s place, as she took Mulder’s.
Nine surgeries and a prosthesis later saw the end of the series, and the end of my dreams of being a forensic anthropologist. I finished the course, but blinded in one eye, and decreased vision in the other is a poor way to process for evidence. Our mock scenes and mock skeletal assessments showed me that. I missed evidence I shouldn’t have.
And still, the imprint of the X-Files guided me. The cryptozoology and preternatural episodes were always my favourite. Archaeology and mythology became my focus. My thesis was on dragon mythology in Europe and Asia. I went on to expand this into a book about dragon mythology the world over. My own state had legends of dragons! Who knew? A co-authorship followed on a book about mythic creatures. I spent a decade teaching mythic studies and ethics.
I’m an author now, retired from teaching. I spend time as an innkeeper, and weave stories for others’ enjoyment. Without the dual interests in forensics and mythology seeded by this wonderful show, my life would be drastically different today. I won’t lie. I might not even be here. Losing my eye, and trying to come to terms with my new limitations was difficult. Something to ground me was a blessing and being able to dive into the exploits of Mulder and Scully provided part of that necessary grounding. A larger part than I would have admitted before.
I am where I am today, doing things I love, in a place of beauty and wonder, all thanks to the crooked path laid down by a simple paranormal drama about two FBI agents who thrive by embracing the unknown.
***How has the X-Files, or any other show, guided you and helped to shape who you are?
**Anyone else excited about the revival?