Imagine this … you’re a six-year-old girl who’s had a bad day. School was hard, and your siblings were annoying. Then your dad comes home from work with a VHS copy of Return of the Jedi that he had rented from either Errol’s Video (or the local library), and your day was saved.
I’m sure you’ve figured out that I’m the six-year-old, and it was my day that was saved with Return of the Jedi. That save set my love of Star Wars and its place in my life.
I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw all three films at once, but I know it was at my grandparents house in Virginia. (I think I was in high school). They had cable, and the SyFy channel had a special letterbox presentation of the whole trilogy. I was blown away. The effects were nothing like nothing I had ever seen before and they were real. They were not computer graphics! My imagination was wide open and anything was possible. I went Star Wars crazy and did everything a teenager in the 1990s would do to show how much they loved something.
In addition to opening my imagination more, Star Wars also showed me what a badass woman could do. Up until then, the most badass woman I had ever seen was Wonder Woman. Don’t get me wrong, she is still badass but she is pretty far removed from normal life. Princess Leia is badass and more realistic. I could look at her and see more of myself and what I could be. She can also rock a purple bikini while saving the day.
As a teenager in the 1990s and a twenty-something in the early 2000s, the prequels were a big part of my culture and each one was released to lots of fans and critical (and not so critical) acclaim.
The Phantom Menace was released my senior year of high school. I wasn’t able to go to the premiere for senior skip day because my parents wouldn’t let me, but I was able to see it shortly after. It was pretty epic. We were finally finding out how the characters in the original three became who they were. (Say what you want about the quality of The Phantom Menace and the other prequels, but they did an excellent job of extending the Star Wars saga for another generation).
In college, I was the only one of my friends who was a Star Wars fan. I did manage to convince my friends to see Attack of the Clones with me, but I was the only one who was really excited, into the story, and not surprised by the ending. I still didn’t make it the premiere, but when you’re in college, movies sometimes have to take second place when exams are involved. That, and I didn’t want to go by myself.
When Revenge of the Sith came out, I was 24 years old and living in Franklin, Tenn. I was working for a radio talk show, and one of my co-workers was a 19 year old named Geof Kirby. Geof and I had clicked almost right away when we started working together. We were both nerds, we both liked quirky stuff, we didn’t have many other friends, and we loved Star Wars.
So naturally, we decided to go the premiere together. It was my first time going to a big movie release like this, and I was pumped. We left work early and were some of the first people in line. Now, I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I had brought a book to read. I also brought a light saber because yeah, it’s Star Wars. It was one of the best nights of my life. I saw so much Star Wars cosplay, tons of light sabers, epic light saber battles, and I connected with a ton of new people.
Side note: Geof participated in some epic lightsaber battles at the premiere of Revenge of the Sith, the likes of which I have not seen since and will most likely never see again. It was pretty awesome.
For the first time I was in a group of people who were all connected by a mutual love of the same thing – Star Wars. And that is a feeling that is with me today, and it drives me as a person. Wherever I’m living at a certain time, I seek out community-based on that common love of Star Wars. In fact, it’s one of the things that attracted me to my husband when we were dating. He was a huge fan and decided to impress me by telling me he still had an original Empire Strikes Back pillowcase and that he had built snow forts in his yard when he was a kid and pretended it was the ice planet, Hoth. It worked 🙂
So yeah, Star Wars is a huge part of my life, and I cannot wait for this new era to start. I’m even more excited to share it with my husband and all my friends who like it, too. Thursday cannot come soon enough!