Stepping Out of Middle Earth

Yesterday evening, I went with my husband to witness something very, very close to my heart: the closing of Middle Earth. Thirteen years ago this month, I was taken to the movies by dear friends, to watch “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”, and, honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into, storywise. Not really. I had begun reading The Fellowship of the Ring a little before those but had gotten busy with my sophomore year of college and set it aside for the time being. Now, after having dress-rehearsed all morning for my first performance on the SCF/Kappa Chi team for the Musical Madness competition, I gathered with those friends to see this film. Needless to say, I was seized, captured, and enthralled.

For the next two years, it became tradition for me to treat my friends to the midnight showing of each subsequent chapter of the Lord of the Rings as a Christmas gift, before we all parted ways for the holidays. I cannot tell you the fun of those nights, going out to dinner with my friends and then getting to the theatre early to garner good seats together. Then, each time, I would lose myself in Middle Earth, travelling on this harrowing adventure with Hobbit, Elf, Wizard, and Man.

In the thirteen years since seeing FOTR, I have devoured the books as well as The SilmarillionThe Books of Lost Tales, and written a collection of my own Tolkien tales. I learned a great deal from an excellent professor who is also a great lover of Tolkien. I learned to speak Sindarin Elvish (memorization and transliteration until it rolled off my tongue, sang in Rohirric, and had two papers published. When I saw that Peter Jackson as extending his movie magic to The Hobbit, I rejoiced. An Unexpected Journey was the first movie I watched with my newborn daughter and, now, my husband and I seized the opportunity (and the kindness of his parents) to close out the Red Book together. At the end, as Billy Boyd sang “The Last Goodbye” and Alan Lee’s beautiful drawings scrolled over the screen, I sat and sobbed. My husband was, admittedly, a little incredulous, but I begged him to let me have my moment for tears.

I grieved for the characters lost, for the pain endured, but I also wept for the ending of an era, for the closing not only of the Red Book but for that chapter of my life. There is now a banking of that fiery passion that burned so hotly for those years, a calm moving on (like Bilbo’s returning to Bag End and carrying on his life). The memories attached to Middle Earth, though, its world, people, and stories, will never fade but, I believe, will only shine brighter as the days and years go by. I cannot thank enough those who fostered this love in me, encouraged it, and rejoiced in the fruit it produced. Thank you, all of you, for all that you have done and given to me – from the writer himself, to the family that carries on his legacy, to the director determined to bring these stories to life, the writers who tenderly took Tolkien’s work in hand, and the actors who gave the characters breath and soul. To these last, I will never look at any of you ever again but that I will also see the characters who have become so beloved to me, see the emotion shimmering in your eyes and trembling on your lips, and feel the strength of your hearts. Thank you!

It was the closing of the Red Book, the ending of an era, and the tearful goodbye of a grateful heart that feels like a Hobbit, writes like an Elf, is fallible like Man, hopeful as a Wizard, and staunch as a Dwarf. You have my love and my eternal thanks. Hannon le. Amin mela le.


Stories Within Stories: Bilbo’s Last Journal Entry

:Property of Melissa Snyder, based on the creations of J.R.R. Tolkien:

Bilbo’s Last Journal Entry
September 9, Shire Year 1419

Only 13 more days to go until my 129th birthday; I’ll pass the Old Took yet, by thunder! Hard to believe time has just run on by, though it does seem to stand still here in Rivendell.
It has been nearly a year now since Frodo has been gone from the Shire, if my calculations serve me correctly. My dear, dear lad. Whomever would have thought him to be a Ringbearer? I am sorry from the top of my curly head to the tips of my wooly toes that my nephew had to bear such a burden that has, assuredly, left him scarred forever. But, from what I hear tell, he got the job done as sure as he’s a Baggins!
Messengers brought word today. Lord Elrond returns, but he does not travel alone. Gandalf, Frodo, and Company are also on their way to Rivendell. It will be good to see them. I am ready to hear new tables and old Gandalf’s voice again and also to have an extra pair of hands for a while. My book is in need of revision and Frodo must do it, for my hand now shakes and my eyes fade. I am feeling ever so much thinner and stretched out than I did 18 years ago, when Gandalf first arrived in Hobbiton for my eleventieth. I have enjoyed my holiday but am now in need of a very long rest. Where or when, I am not sure, but soon. Soon.
I doubt that I will enter my journal again, as I grow older by the minute, but I shall equal the Old Took yet. I have trouble remembering now and all such things. So now the task falls to Frodo, that none may forget what has happened to us Bagginess. So, good-bye, my friend, and I bid you a very fond farewell.

Mr. Bilbo Baggins, formerly of Bag End, Hobbiton, The Shire