Her name is Rose Tyler.
As portrayed by Billie Piper, Rose was the first Companion of the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) on the British television show Doctor Who.
The role of Companion plays as integral a part of Doctor Who as does the Doctor itself.
The Companion is the audience’s proxy to the wonders of space and time travel. We as the viewer may not be able to trek to the end of the Universe and watch Shakespeare perform in the Globe Theater, but we can live vicariously through the Companion.
With the introduction of every new Companion, there is always a moment in the show when the Doctor offers the Companion the opportunity to travel with him and experience the beauty, mystery, wonder (and often danger) of the Cosmos.
Whether it is Rose and the Ninth Doctor, Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) and the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), Amanda Pond (Karen Gillian) and the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), or Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) and the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi), there is always that instant when the Doctor opens the door to his vehicle, the TARDIS, to invite the Companion along for the ride and there is always that instant when the Companion hesitates before accepting the adventure of a dozen lifetimes.
What would you do in that situation?
If you were offered the chance to run away for a unique life-altering voyage into the unknown, would you?
I already know my answer.
This is my story.
It is the spring of 1989. My junior year at Northwestern University is nearing its end. The thoughts and plans of what will occupy my summer vacation are in their primordial stages. I have begun to lay the groundwork of what I will need to stay in the town of Evanston during the months of June, July, and August. I am looking for an apartment to rent, I am looking for a job that pays, and I am in the final phase of securing an unpaid internship with Chicagoland Radio Information Service.
In short, I am planning for a regular life.
This is when my own version of the Doctor appears in the guise of an old friend.
He calls me and invites me to join him on a crazy adventure he has cooked up. He wants to spend the summer in Paris (France, not Texas) and be there as that city (and the rest of the country) celebrates the bicentennial of its Revolution. He plans to rent an apartment and get a job although he is rather thin on the details as to how to secure both items. If nothing else, he will wing it, which is a skill that he does excel at.
He makes his case and then he holds open the door of the TARDIS and invites me along.
I take a look inside to the adventure that his invitation offers.
I take a look at the unknown experiences that await if I cross that threshold.
I take a look at the regular life I will be leaving behind.
And I back away.
I thank my friend for his gracious invitation and tell him I am honored that he thought of me to be his companion. I give my excuses and my regrets, but as I decline his offer, I do not give him my real reason for declining.
I am scared.
His offer of the unknown (language, culture, geography, employment) frightens the crap out of me. At the age of twenty, I am not ready for this.
The TARDIS vanishes and I spend the summer of 1989 sweltering in the safe, dull, and recognizable Chicago summer.
That’s my story.
It should be noted that not every Companion accepted the Doctor’s offer. In the episode “The Runaway Bride”, Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) rejects the Tenth Doctor’s invitation to join him in the TARDIS and she goes back to her regular life.
It should also be noted that when given a second chance to be the Companion, Donna does accept in the episode “Partners in Crime”.
P.S. As to how I became enamored with the character of The Doctor…well, that’s a story for another day.