We All Go Back to Where We Belong

I don’t read a lot of Fantasy, but my favorite book is:

I read it for the first time when I was 20 years old.  Much older than most people when they read it for the first time.  I probably would never have read it if I didn’t move to Alaska for a brief part of my life.

I had fallen for a girl who was from there.  We worked together while she was attending college in Minnesota.  When it was time for her to return to the last frontier, I decided it was a great idea to quit college and join her.  Of course, when you’re 20 years old every decision based on love is the right decision.  It wasn’t the best decision I ever made, but if I hadn’t made this unexpected journey, I wouldn’t have gotten a job at Barnes in Noble in Anchorage.  When I moved back to Minnesota, I transferred to a different Barnes and Noble and met my next girlfriend who I ended up living with a few months later.  When that relationship ended I moved out to a new apartment.  Struggling to make ends meet, I got a second job at a bookstore.  And yes, at that bookstore I met my next girlfriend.  I am hardly a ladies man, but please remember all this happened over the course of many years.  I dated that girl for a while and while we were together running errands one day, I happened onto a job fair which led me to eventually getting a job at a bank.  The relationship ended and I worked for the bank for years.  It was there where I met Amy.  Years later we dated and then married.
So, long story short, if it wasn’t for Alaska my life would be very different.


When I got to Alaska I stayed with my girlfriend’s family for a few weeks.  You could charitably say that her dad wasn’t my biggest fan.  Time zones and many, many miles away from my home and family and friends, I started to read ‘The Hobbit’ as a means to take a break from my new, depressing life.  I fell in love with the prose, the characters and the humor.  It was reassuring to re-enter Middle Earth when the real Earth was too much.  It was comforting.  The relationship ended, I moved back to Minnesota because that’s where I belong.

As I said, I eventually moved in with the girl I started to date after I returned from Alaska.  After a year or two the relationship ended.   Isn’t that strange?  Over 15 years has passed since the relationship and I can’t even remember how long we were together but at one point, while we were dating, I’m sure I could tell how many days we had been together. We were even engaged.  The night I was told it was over I went to Borders and purchased my own copy of the book.  Again, it was comforting to read about Bilbo when I was in the process of moving out and adjusting to my new life while I was heartbroken.

These days life is great but I still reread the book about twice a year.  I realized that the book does a great job of mixing peril with comfort.  For every perilous situation, the next scene is one of friends and safety.  Attacked by goblins in one chapter, guests of Beorn in the next.  Trapped by Wargs one moment, rescued by eagles shortly after that.

When it was announced that there would be a live action film, I was a little nervous.  As a comic fan, I am used to Hollywood taking characters I like and turning them from this:

…into this:

I can roll with it these days easier than I used to.

After the Hobbit film was announced, bits of information of it started to trickle out.  Everything from casting to it being split into 17 separate films to clips and trailers and pictures of the toys.

I was prepared for the film to be different from how I pictured it.  The casting of Bilbo is pretty good.  At least they didn’t stick with this interpretation:

I always pictured him like this:

Gandalf looks really good, and we know that based on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies.  He’s pretty close to how I saw him, which was pretty similar to the Wizard from the ‘Where’s Waldo’ books.

My Gandalf:

Movie Gandalf:

And just for fun, the Waldo Wizard:

I haven’t seen Smaug yet for the movie, but I always liked in the book he was described as a wicked old worm, so I saw him with a long, thin body:

The dwarves look like how I imagined them, but I always saw them as brave, but kind of funny characters.  I hope the movie doesn’t take them too seriously or make them too silly:

So for the most part, from what I have seen anyway, nothing really jumps out at me.  Except for the Great Goblin.  Bilbo and the group getting captured by the goblins is my favorite part of the book.  And seeing how the gang escapes, I saw them as ugly, but perhaps not too bright.  I always picture the Goblin King like this:

I wasn’t able to find a picture of what the goblins or their king look like in the movie, but I did find a picture of the toy for the movie.  I was a little surprised by it since he looks like Meatloaf’s character from ‘Fight Club’.

Looks pretty different than how I pictured SO I WILL BOYCOTT THE MOVIE FOREVER AND GO ONLINE AND COMPLAIN AND RIDICULE ANYONE WHO WILL SEE THE MOVIE.  YES, EVEN YOU.  Kidding.  But the point is that I see the goblins as pretty silly since they sing songs as they rush their prisoners to their king.

Anyway, I am looking forward to the movie.  It won’t be what I pictured but that’s okay.

One more thought though.  When I first read the book, I assumed the story was really over when Bilbo and the group recovered the treasure.  Anyone who has read the book will know there is much more that happens after.  It was years after, and many rereads later that I realized that the story is not about the treasure.  It’s about returning to where one belongs.  Which makes perfect sense since in the story Bilbo writes his memoirs of the adventure and calls his book “There and Back Again”.  Looking back, going to Alaska was the adventure.  But the significance, the importance was returning to where I needed to be.


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