I’ve had a little over a month to process my feelings about the end of the Star Wars saga. I am still not okay.
If anyone reading this also follows me on social media, you know I am a rather rabid fan of Star Wars. I know there are a lot of us out there so it’s not like I’m admitting to liking liver and onions. I don’t, by the way.
Star Wars has been in my life since I was five years old. I’ll never forget sitting on the couch with my dad (who was a larger man with a big, round belly), snuggling into him, and watching Episode IV: A New Hope (they’re renamed now, I know, but this is how I will always know it) for the first time. He read the opening crawl out loud to me and I was hooked. A princess? An evil empire? A smuggler? A Jedi? Sign me up!
Little did I know that as I made my way through the movies, sometimes literally all in one sitting, I would become the fan I am today. I love everything about Star Wars. They’re campy and wonderful and the special effects hold up and Princess Fucking Leia.
As I grew up, I continued to watch them. I had the original VHS tapes that were so worn out I couldn’t fix the tracking at all on some of the scenes. When George Lucas re-released the trilogy with new scenes, I immediately made my mom drive me the hour and a half over the mountains so I could get them. I practically ruined that set in a year. I was obsessed.
There’s something about the entire arc in those first three movies that makes me so happy. The idea of rescuing a damsel in distress, who is no damsel and who isn’t really in distress, is so wonderful. Her falling in love with Han, and also sort of her brother, is amazing. Her relationship with Luke speaks to their bond because of The Force, their soulmate status, and everything else. Han Solo is the epitome of cool, racing around the galaxy in the most amazing ship in the entire fucking universe. I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love the Millennium Falcon? And Chewbacca! Oh, Chewy. I can’t even with how much I adore Chewy’s character arc over the nine movies.
When the Disney deal went through, I was skeptical. I love Disney so much, too, so being skeptical of anything Disney did was hard for my brain to handle. When the first trailer for The Force Awakens dropped at D23, I almost hyperventilated. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I cannot even begin to describe the emotions that surged through my body.
Listen, I had to sit through Episodes I, II, and III, okay? I had to see George Lucas try and make political struggles in the Republic interesting. I had to see Hayden Christiansen try and muster up some chemistry with Natalie Portman, who, let’s be real, could have chemistry with a brick wall. I had to SUFFER through young Anakin Skywalker being played by the world’s worst actor (I’m sorry if that seems mean but I’m not even going to mention his name).
So seeing the trailer for The Force Awakens, a movie I was severely skeptical about, cast with basically all unknowns, was mind-blowing. I was scared, nervous, excited, anxious, everything.
When the movie released, my friend Brad and I bought back-to-back showing tickets for the IMAX theater in the town where I lived in Indiana. We showed up two hours early (before they actually assigned seats – best thing theaters have ever done, honestly). We were so pumped. When the first notes of the amazing John Williams score burst into the airwaves, I started crying. I cried numerous times during the movie. I cried like a crazy person at a couple moments… There were a few things I didn’t love, but y’know what? Overall, I really loved it.
I saw it five more times in the theater.
Fast forward two years. The Last Jedi was released. And I was just as excited. Just as pumped. And after seeing it, with Brad again, I was still totally stoked for the rise of Disney’s Star Wars. I didn’t LOVE The Last Jedi, but I appreciated it for what it was.
Now. A lot happened after the release of The Last Jedi, and I won’t go into all of it, because you probably aren’t uber nerds who want to know the ins and outs of why people hated that movie or even why they hated The Force Awakens. That being said, they switched directors and handed the reins back to JJ Abrams, who now had a colossal mess to clean up.
Welcome to December of 2019. The Rise of Skywalker. I was relatively spoiler free. I always go off of social media days before the release in order to avoid spoilers, but I also didn’t watch every trailer. I only saw two trailers. I watched them both a thousand times, but whatever.
When I sat down in the theater to watch The Rise of Skywalker, this time without Brad, I’ll be very honest: I was shaking. I was so nervous and excited all at the same time. And truth be told? As the movie started and moved from one scene to the next, I found myself crying through most of it.
(I won’t go into all the details, but I really enjoyed it. I had my issues, and if you’re super interested, go listen to The Weekly Wine Down podcast where we discuss Star Wars for an entire episode. THE BEST EPISODE EVER. Ha!)
And when the movie ended? I was a hot mess. A hot, hot mess. I was sobbing. And I had to pull myself together. I got into my Jeep. I started it, put it into drive, and continued to cry the entire way home.
As I sat at a stoplight, hoping no one could see me, blubbering like a fool, it hit me like a pile of bricks why I was so sad. I had essentially just said goodbye to Leia, Han, and Luke for the very last time. These characters have been in my life for as long as I can remember, literally. I don’t remember much before the age of five, so really, I’m not even exaggerating.
But, more than anything, I had to say goodbye to Leia. I grew up wanting to be Leia. I wanted to be in charge and confident and amazing and beautiful with cinnamon bun hair and no need for a bra.
As I aged, I started to fall in love with everything Carrie Fisher did, said, wrote… She was so wonderful and special and raw and honest. And saying goodbye to Leia was also realizing I would never again see something new Carrie Fisher did. And knowing that wrecked me. Her candor and beauty was something I will miss forever. She didn’t hold back and she made sure her mental health was something not holding her back but helping her—and others—out.
I’d like to say this entire blog post has a deep meaningful take-away. Aside from me wanting to write about my love for Star Wars, of course, it really doesn’t. I guess what I can say with 100% certainty is that Star Wars has helped mold me into the person I am today. No, I’m not a princess or a smuggler or a Jedi, but I am most definitely a strong woman with the drive and desire to be the best version of myself I can be. And I’m doing all of that while trying to handle anxiety and depression and many other things Carrie Fisher spoke so truthfully about struggling with. I may not be the badass she was (and always will be), but I will always strive to be a little like Leia and a lot like Carrie: a damsel in distress, who isn’t really a damsel and is most definitely not in distress.
May the Force be with you.