I'm sitting in a booth in a McDonald's on the side of the interstate -- in the middle of my drive home from visiting family for Christmas -- with tears in my eyes. I am trying to process the news that Carrie Fisher is gone. I have other stories to write; questions fans will ask, and angles that need to be covered: it's news, and that's the business I'm in - as much as it hurts to do sometimes.
But first I needed to put word to print. Dammit, I'm going to miss Carrie Fisher.
Like the vast majority that grew up in the 80s, yeah, Carrie Fisher, or more accurately at the time Princess Leia, was one of my first crushes. I didn't see Star Wars until I already knew the story, thanks to my older brother. When I did finally see it, it was already second nature to me but while some of the twists and turns weren't surprises, the characters, and how instantly I fell in love with them, was. I wanted to be an adventurer, like Luke. I wanted to be suave, like Han. But I wanted to be smart, and a leader like Leia.
Leia was the first character in the genre entertainment I already loved that wasn't just a female analogue of the male character, or a damsel in distress. I saw her as a role model, an aspiration, long before I saw her as a sex symbol (or even knew what that term meant). Loving Leia over the years grew into me learning about Carrie; my love of acting and thus of actors helped that along.
Carrie Fisher wasn't just Leia, by any means. She was Hollywood royalty, and her own daughter joined the ranks as well. She was brilliant; whip-smart in interviews, knew how to hold her own on set, and a script doctor that helped some of my all time favorites (just watched Hook again two days ago) come to glorious life. She was funny, but sometimes with a sense of melancholy that hid behind the jokes, if you knew where to look. She struggled, like any real human being, with real human feelings and problems. She portrayed a self that you'd want to come to with any problem, that you'd want around any time you needed cheering up or just to vent; a best friend who also wouldn't coddle you - and this is all from afar. It's all from just looking at her and knowing she wouldn't be those things to you personally, but you just knew it anyway. You knew like Leia did when Han said "I love you."
I got to see Carrie in-person twice, though I never had the privilege of conversing with her personally. Once was the hilarious moment depicted here, of Carrie Fisher spanking James Arnold Taylor, the voice actor who portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, on stage at Star Wars Celebration. It was the moment, this ridiculous, hilarious moment, that made me feel like Carrie and I were friends, even if I was the only one who knew it. I was priveleged enough to know James through our years of interviews, and got to sit in great seats right up front. I got to know Carrie through an hour of candid conversation, and a hilarious spanking live with thousands of other fans, all of us falling in love all over again with her.
The other time was at the press day for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where Carrie simply dominated the dais. It didn't matter that other titans of industry, actors long-storied and up-and-coming were there: it was Carrie's world, Carrie's day, and we all wouldn't have it any other way.
Now, we look to a world that's without Carrie Fisher, and that's a damned grim prospect. It's a world without her, but it will never be a life without her. Not just because there's other footage of her that is on the way, where we get to celebrate her on-screen talent, though that's a strange, small comfort. The real way she'll always be in our lives is how she's touched us; on screen, in her writing, in her books, in her kind, ridiculous, hilarious, snarky words. In that, Carrie lives on, one with the Force. In that, we love her.