Saying Goodbye to My First Hero - RIP Carrie Fisher
Somewhere, maybe in my Mom's garage or maybe in a landfill, there is a booklet I made in the 3rd grade. I don't remember exactly what the assignment was, or why the booklet was shaped like a football with a yellow cover, but I do remember the contents. It was an ode to Carrie Fisher, written right before Return of the Jedi was released, and composed with that blind devotion children reserve for their heroes. To mask the indignity of the yellow football cover, I affixed the above Topps trading card. It's ok, I had a bunch of duplicates.
Carrie Fisher was my first hero. I was only 3-years-old when Star Wars came out but I vividly remember my first encounter with Princess Leia. At the time, I didn't know what an anomaly fictional kick-ass princesses were. I just knew this Princess was awesome and I wanted to be her. As my childhood unraveled with divorce and remarriage, Star Wars was always my chosen method of escapism and I tried to channel the strength and resolve of Leia into my own reality. The stack of carefully curated Princess Leia trading cards that I carried around with me, served as my own private talisman.
But it wasn't just the fictional Leia who captivated me. I also came to adore the woman beneath that inane hair-do. Even at a young age, I could see there was wit and intelligence there. I was desperate to see everything she ever appeared in, and admit to loving Under the Rainbow, though I probably haven't seen it since Reagan was in office. In the 3rd grade, I decided to reinvent and rechristen myself. However, "Leia" was not the name I choose. Instead, I spent a year only responding when people called me "Carrie."
As Carrie Fisher experienced her ups and downs, I always paid attention, always rooted for her, and always reveled in her triumphs. I don't have many regrets in my life, but I certainly mourn the unused tickets for a live conversation between Carrie and John Waters on June 8, 2010. Granted, my husband crashed the car that morning and I went into labor that night and gave birth to my daughter the next day. However, I've frequently thought how having my water break in front of Carrie Fisher and John Waters was a major missed opportunity.
Yes, she was Hollywood royalty, but her willingness to expose all her raw insecurities meant I frequently felt like I could relate to her. In her recently released The Princess Diarist, I wasn't surprised by the Harrison Ford revelation, (wasn't that always obvious?), but that fact that even in the midst of filming what would become one of the most influential films of all time, she was instead consumed with the soul numbing agony of falling for the wrong guy. At 19, she was no different from me at that age.
I met Carrie Fisher once, at Comic-Con in 2006. The encounter was as awkward as you'd expect, but I'm glad I did it. Grateful to have had the opportunity to thank a woman who, despite her own demons, could still prevail and always be an inspiration.
I don't remember exactly what I wrote in that football-shaped tribute I composed some 30+ years ago, though I do still recall how I closed out this mini-masterpiece on the last page...
"Carrie, I love you. "
Rest well, my Princess.