Tuesday, December 27, 2016
To Me, She'll Always Be Royalty.
The way it worked, you'd first wait in line to buy a licensed-photo, then you'd wait in a second line for your moment of glory with them. Separate celebrities; separate lines. The wait for Mark Hamill was about 2 hours... for Carrie Fisher? Closer to three, so I'd had nearly 5 hours to think of something amazing to say to her by the time I reached her table.
I'd chosen a photo of her looking like a badass in her Princess Leia gown, holding a blaster at the ready; staring right through your soul. It quivered a little in my hand while I waited, and the closer I got to her, the more it trembled... I still maintain that was due entirely to the chilliness in the room.
Of course, even after 5 hours to think, once I stood before her I was utterly speechless. I have a feeling she was both used to that, and a little grateful. She made some self-deprecating joke (honestly, I was so close to passing out I could barely hear over the blood rushing in my ears), and gently took the photo from my hand. She seemed genuinely-pleased to see it... as though she'd really had enough of signing her tummy in all of those gold bikini pics sweaty fanboys pass her day in and day out. She nodded approvingly at me, got my name and signed the photo. She shook my hand (just a little) when she let the photo go, and her assistant reminded me that I needed to move on.
Outside I finally thought of what I wanted to say. I wanted to tell her that at 11-years old, Princess Leia immediately became not just my model for women ("Hey, look! Girl in movie!" said all of my 11-year old pals), but for people at large. She was smart and strong and fair and not-to-be-trifled with. She stood up for her values, even when the odds were stacked high against her. She was capable of asking for help, but still, utterly self-sufficient. She was the star everyone looked to for guidance. If there was hope in Star Wars, she embodied it.
Of course, as the years went by I grew to learn that Carrie Fisher possessed all of these qualities, and despite her personal struggles she managed to be that same pillar of strength for people and pets alike. Her frank tales about her triumphs and challenges helped countless people deal with similar issues in their lives. She had a way of making her worst experiences hilarious, and so, surmountable for those dealing with them themselves. She was a role model who never claimed to be such. She spoke for the voiceless. She had a not-so-quiet strength that spoke even louder. She was the celebrity everyone looked to for guidance.
And now she's gone. Carrie Fisher passed away this morning, leaving the world is a sadder, emptier place. I wish I'd at least thanked her that day for the vision and hope she introduced to me, but if any of those lessons still live in me, I still owe her a debt of thanks... maybe now more than ever.
Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher... and thank you.