I was five years old when I first saw the original Star Wars in a movie theater. I don’t remember much about it, other than the frantic drive with my family to get there, and I think we were a little late, and that it was cool. But it must have left enough of an impression because I started writing Star Wars fanfic at the age of seven. It was mostly dogfight scenes involving Rebellion fighter pilots communicating with each other as they fought Imperial fighters written in pencil on that elementary school paper with the top and bottom lines and dashed lines between them.
The Empire Strikes Back changed everything. I was eight years old and I loved that movie. We had the movie on a vinyl record—not the soundtrack, but the dialogue from the majority of the movie. My sister and I would play it over and over and over to the point where we had it memorized* and I could voice a fairly accurate Yoda. Not only that, but I thought if I could just get my hair long enough, I could wrap it in braids around my head like Leia did when she was on Hoth. I even got snow boots that looked like her boots from the movie.
Then there was Return of the Jedi. I got the novelization for a friend’s birthday present, and had to read it before I wrapped it and gave it to her (because I hadn’t actually seen the movie yet). While I was bummed that Leia didn’t get a bigger role in RotJ (and annoyed that they did the whole ‘slave girl’ thing, although she did kick ass with strangling Jabba *spoiler*), she was a Jedi (or at least had potential)! She had skillz!
Then in The Force Awakens we saw an older, more experienced Leia as a General. A General! Not a Princess, but a General. And still with an attitude.
But Carrie Fisher was more than that. I loved her in When Harry Met Sally, as well as her novel Postcards from the Edge, and her memoir Wishful Drinking. She was smart and funny and painfully honest about her mental health, and other, issues. No matter what life threw at her, she came through it with admirable wit.
She will be deeply missed.
*Fun party trick: recite all the lines of The Empire Strikes Back to the amazement of your friends. Or until they start to get annoyed. I still can’t manage a Wookiee cry, though.