My dad took me and my brother to an old theater in Reading, Pennsylvania, to see Star Wars. We sat in the balcony. I was ten years old.
I remember being captivated from the beginning when those now-famous words scrolled across the screen. I liked the scene in the cantina with those crazy aliens and that funny, tinny music playing in the background.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve watched Star Wars since 1977. My favorite scene became the one with the garbage compactor. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy,” Princess Leia says to Luke as she shoots her laser gun at the Stormtroopers, transforming from rescuee to rescuer, from damsel in distress to take-charge badass.
I replayed that scene over and over in my head. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.” That was the kind of girl I was when I played with the guys. That was the kind of woman I wanted to be.
When I got older, I idolized Carrie Fisher the author. She was a brilliant writer. If you want to learn how to write memoir, read Carrie Fisher. Her words were sharp and cutting, vulnerable and honest. The humor was so dark, you never knew whether to laugh or cry. I always did both. She wrote with the bravery and balls of Princess Leia. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.”
I read a lot of books. Most I recycle, handing off to friends or family, or donating to Goodwill. I keep some of Fisher’s books in a small, neat stack on my bookcase mixed with books written by a few other authors. My stack of weird books. They are the books that told me it was okay to think the way I did. That it was okay to be different. They are the books that gave me permission to be myself.
It’s been a tough year for losses. I lost two of my heroes earlier this year when the wrestler Chyna and the musician Prince died on back-to-back days in April.
And now Carrie Fisher.
I like to think they left me a little of their magic when they departed this world. A little of their bravery and in your face badassery. That it fell like stardust and caught on the inside of my sleeve or the back of my pants and clung like specks of glitter.
And that when I need to be bold and courageous, it will be there, giving me a needed push.
“Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.”
* * *
What about you? Who will you miss most from 2016?
My parents didn’t let us see Star Wars as kids, because they didn’t understand there wouldn’t be a lot of blood and gore. Crazy to think about, now.
But we still played with the neighbor kid’s Star Wars figures, and traded some toys for others. Our first two figures were Greedo and Boba Fett. Yeah, of course we were going to come up short in a trade for something we couldn’t comprehend.
When we finally watched it years later on VHS, it certainly cleared up a great deal.
I think I’m going to miss Alan Rickman the most. But it’s a tough question. So many are lost every year, but this was a banner year, huh?
It’s been a tough year, or maybe we are just getting older.
Love your story about the Star Wars action figures.
Each new loss seems to revive the ones that came earlier.
I have Delusions Of Grandma on my bedside table and Surrender The Pink on my bookshelf; like you, I recycle books, but those I didn’t. She knew how to write. With a knife-edge honesty that made people laugh even as the clean cuts she delivered caused tears.
Authenticity is like that, I think.
Carrie Fisher was an inspiration to many, for being bad ass enough to be herself – and be honest with herself – flaws and all. I’ve seen some great quotes of hers floating about the interwebs over the past couple days, and I know the bipolar community is especially feeling this loss. She was a pioneer in de-stigmatizing mental health, and I have the utmost respect for her for that.
2016 was full of losses. David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, the list seems never-ending. Muhammed Ali. Anton Yelchin. Chyna.
I don’t know that any one person, for me, had extreme impact. It was more like, with each new death, I mourned all of them all over again. Where heroes are concerned, 2016 saw the death of many.
I hope in 2017 that new heroes, for new times, are born.
Those are a few of my favorite Carrie Fisher books, too. I often recommend her books for people interested in writing memoir. W has never seen Postcards from the Edge, so we’ll be watching that in the next few days.
I agree that no one loss is worse or more significant than another. Seems like I’ve been heavy hearted for much of 2016, even though it has been a drama and tragedy free year for us on a personal level.
I echo your sentiment that we need more heroes in 2017 to fill in the gaps and propel us to great things. Speaking of heroes, Wonder Woman will be making an appearance in 2017. Not that I’m counting down the days or anything.
I know!!! SO EXCITED.
I feel like I’ve been pummeled with the loss of so many luminaries this year. The world seems darker. We all need to turn up our own light and shine a little brighter.
Cheers to that. Maybe someone should, oh, I don’t know, open a center for writers and other artists or something like that. Just a thought.
2016 was certainly a year of tremendous loss, diverse loss. I will miss “President” Barack Obama.
Yes, that will be a huge loss. A kind man in a profession where kindness is not a mandatory job qualification. I hope to tell my grandkids about the White House lighting up in rainbow colors after the marriage equality ruling. It is something I will never forget.
Carrie Fisher was not on my radar at all (neither was George Michael) so I am taken aback by how many people are writing about her (on social media). I’m like “huh?”. I’m not into celebrities; I don’t pay attention to or follow their private lives (trials and tribulations). I find it difficult to mourn the death of people I don’t know personally. But I must be in the minority because my Facebook feed is full of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds tonight.
I associate many of these celebrities with my childhood. I vividly remember seeing Star Wars back in 1977. I read all of Fisher’s books, so certainly that was a huge influence. I remember when George Michael’s Faith album came out. I was at college. So many good songs different from anything he had ever done. I can map out most of my life to these moments, these people who had an effect on me, especially at a time when I was trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be.
We’ve lost so many great artists this year, it’s impossible to choose a standout. I do have to say though, Carrie Fisher moved me the most … and not just for Princess/General Leia, but for being the best badass she could be. 😀
I think we mourn them because they are tied in with our childhood, or major milestones in our lives, and because their art lifted us up.
I think we associate certain periods of our lives with these famous people — the actors or the characters they played, especially when we are trying to figure out who we are and who we want to be. Carrie Fisher was inextricably tied to her iconic role as Princess Leia. She was a badass in real life just as Leia was onscreen. She made the world a better place.
Well said. I definitely have a stack of “weird books,” the ones that inspired me to keep being me no matter what anyone else said.
Currently, I’m mourning the fact that pretty soon Obama won’t be the president anymore. I’m trying to face what will come in the next 4 years with hope, but it’s not always easy.
It’s not an easy time, and President Obama will be missed. I am trying to focus on the things I can do to promote peace and equality over the next four years. It takes away that feeling of hopelessness.