How did you discover Outlander? Did you see Diana Gabaldon’s novel in a bookstore in the 1990s? Were you given a tattered copy from a friend? Did a Starz commercial catch your eye? I’m sure every Outlander fanatic has a story. I know I do.
My saga began with an abscessed implant tooth. I woke and peered into a mirror; overnight I’d somehow acquired the visage of a prize fighter who’d gone several rounds with Rocky Balboa. My periodontist later told me I needed oral surgery, followed by three days of rest (thereby unwittingly prescribing a T.V. binge-fest).
Once home from my dental nightmare, I planted myself on the sofa. As I drooled down one side of my novocained mouth, I tried to think of a television series that would hold my attention. I was caught-up with Game Of Thrones and Stranger Things, so they were out. I racked my brain for other possibilities, when I remembered a girlfriend’s suggestion. She’d recommended Outlander two years before. I dimly recalled there was a handsome actor involved in the show––a legitimate reason to drool.
I turned on the TV and fell headlong into a world of stone circles and Highlanders. I’d recently confirmed my Scottish heritage with a DNA test, maybe that explained my kinship with Scotland, where Outlander was filmed.
The storyline grabbed me. I can’t tell you what happened that day on the sofa, I only know that something did. In simple terms, I was “Outlandered.” Places, dialogues, and characters entered my bloodstream, tainting every part of me. The condition has lingered, and there is no cure.
I know some people think I’ve gone off the deep-end, but I pay them no mind. The Outlander series has sold over twenty-million books, so I know I keep good company. Others who share my condition reside within the castled walls of the Outlander fan-base. I’ve glimpsed their numbers when Gabaldon does a “Calling of The Clans;” a post to her Facebook page. Great hordes emerge to comment and “like.”
During Season 1, I had no clue that Jamie and Claire’s love story would rattle me so. The friendship, respect, and adoration between the two main characters, played brilliantly by Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, struck a chord. I hummed with memories of my husband, who had died years before, and our marriage. I naively believed I was past the gut-wrenching heartache and ugly cries that had immobilized me after his death. And then I watched Outlander.
It felt as though a dirk had sliced my heart, letting loose a river of grief. Witnessing the blossoming of the Frasers’ marriage hit me like Black Jack’s punch to Claire’s stomach. The painful truth re-emerged––I ached for my lover and friend. I yearned for his passionate embrace, and his whispered words of love. How many years would I wish for a husband long gone? Already more than I cared to count.
Friends can’t fathom how Outlander affected me so. After the first few episodes, I ordered all eight books in the Outlander series. I’ve since devoured the novels several times over. I’m in awe of Gabaldon’s talent. Her words and characters enchant. The author understands the beauty and intimacies of an enduring marriage, and I needed to feel that again––before I could let go.
Written by: Erin G. Burrell
Author of That’s Why You’re Here