2016 started with the loss of David Bowie.
Collectively we recognise the deaths of celebrities and it is custom to remember why they were famous and often in the process we discover things we had forgotten or things we never knew. Loved ones, in their grief, confess and somehow we feel more connected to them now they have left us than we ever would while they were here.
David Bowie had been a part of my life since birth because my father in particular had been an avid fan of his. My father was known for his eccentric musical taste, so Bowie was really as mainstream as it got in our house hold. Still, by default the music and lyrics of David Jones echo in me on a primal/delta wave vibration.
It is known.
What struck me most about his sudden departure was how he had made an album about his imminent death – and then died the day he released it.
It was uncanny and spooky and weird and distressing… but also apt. And we would be foolish to imagine David Bowie doing it any other way.
Of course we all know that David is not ‘dead’ exactly but rather floating in a space can somewhere far above the world. Like the little prince, his body was simply to heavy to take with him on his next journey.
Throughout the year, we witnessed the death of so many stars that we lost count. Galaxies faded before our very eyes, daily.
I encountered a monumental death – that of my father.
My husband too, experienced the loss of his father just a few days ago.
2016 was a year of death.
Then just as we thought we were done, after the christmas presents had all been unwrapped and the puddings and booze consumed and we had put this year to slumber – Carrie Fisher died.
This was one I never saw coming and yet… Again, there was something poetically serene to her exit. After releasing her most intimate memories to the world… her last gift to us.
Her heart could take no more.
To me Carrie Fisher was Princess Leia. This is how 99% of people who were not in her personal circle of friends think of her. Star Wars was the phenomenon that happened in my childhood. I am the generation that went to see these films in the cinema and bought the figurines and played with lightsabers. All my friends were boys when I was kid, it was the seventies (and early eighties), so it was difficult to tell boys from girls anyway.
But it meant I was inevitably always Princess Leia. Which is great – because that’s who I wanted to be.
The films are often criticised for only having one ‘chick’ in it. But if you watch the movies, you realise that Leia is multidimensional – with every costume change, she embodies a different aspect of her personality. So there really was a lot of different princess Leias to play depending on what mood you were in. Think about it, she is much more developed as a character than most of the boys – who only really have one modus operandi throughout the films. Even Luke, on whom the whole story pivots; only has a very linear development from innocence to maturity.
Leia in comparison has a whole arsenal skills and sensitivities. She is princess in distress (Alderaan gown), She is rebel (Hoth snowsuit), She is regal (Bespin gown / Ceremonial gown), she is knight to the rescue (Bespin jumpsuit) she is undercover spy (Boush outfit),
She is sexy slave (Jabba’s slave ensemble), she is eco-warrior (Endor combat poncho),
She is high pristess (Ewok village dress).
She was basically (my) everything.
When I watched her on screen as a kid, over and over again, I saw this amazing feisty woman. She was sweet and hard and strong and badass and beautiful. she fought with the boys and they loved her. She was super clever and brave – She lead the rebellion for crying out loud.
On screen I believed Han Solo was in love with her and I believed she didn’t really like him that much. I liked it when she would push him away. I could never imagine that off screen she would have the same exact vulnerabilities as I did.
Now I am reading her diaries.
It is like a song of the soul…
She writes what it was like for her at the age of 19 to be in love and confused and mis-read. Her book speaks to me, as I imagine it speaks to millions of women and girls who have, or will, or thought they were, or hoped they could be, in love.
She speaks of unrequited love, of course. She is candid and she is wonderful at putting into words these seemingly universal feelings. (Which perversely feel so isolating).
Could I have ever imagined that Princess Leia felt just as much as a loser as I did when I met my teens? It was impossible – she was a queen, a ruler, a wielder, not a doormat, a dork, a clueless kid. And yet here it is on page.
As a girl in the real world she felt powerless, yet she wielded so much power in fantasy – perhaps we all do?
My idol, everything that I could ever aspire to be, was just like me all along.
I love her so much for this gift. And while I wish she had written these 40 years ago so I could have read them in real-time. I will keep them safe for my own daughters, so they can read them one day and know the truth that is universal unrequited love.
I love Carrie Fisher so much. I love that she was bi-polar and lived with it and was cookie-crazy half the time and nervous and insecure and feisty and as badass in real-life as she was on screen.
Leia was a mentor in SCI-FI while she was with us, now Carrie will be my mentor in real-life now she is gone.
Carrie who ultimately, died of a broken heart – like so many others do (my father included).
I love you.