Princess Leia or The Girl I Never Was…

“From what I can see of the people like me, we get better but we never get well…” Paul Simon 1981

The original Star Wars movie came out the year I was born.  Yeah, yeah, I’m dating myself.  I didn’t see it until years later, of course, but that didn’t stop it and its sequels from becoming a force of influence in my life that I likely, to this day, don’t fully understand.  This could be due to the fact that it was SO AMAZING (YES, I am a huge fan, but not in the obsessed “I hate the travesty that has become the Star Wars franchise aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh” kind of way) or the fact that the mass-marketing monster we have come to know and love was flexing its remiges in anticipation of its historical flight into global domination, OR the fact that my mother happened to choose an obscure biblical name for me and then shorten its unfathomable and unpronounceable 8-letter garble to sound like “LEIA” (for those who may not be familiar –and… are you really out there? – it sounds like Lay-uh).

I loved Princess Leia from the first moment I saw her.  I begged to be taken to the drive-in showing of Return of the Jedi at age 6.  It was magical and I remember that trip very fondly.  It wasn’t just her ball-busting attitude or her faux-demure sexiness; here was FINALLY someone with whom I shared the same name!!!  It was the most novel and validating thing that had happened to me at that point.  Other kids grew up knowing another Jennifer or Sarah, another Kelly, Jessica, Amy, Kim, another April, even the occasional Misty or Tiffany.

Not Leia.  Not Lay-uh.  Not me.

Not until I discovered her.  She was everything I wanted to be, a princess, a bad-ass, a big bun-wearing icon with a space gun!  Oh, the famed gold bikini didn’t hurt anything either and no, I was never smart enough to find and wear one while my body could still sport it without guffaws and jeers.  A year ago I did finally (as mentioned in my Halloween post) don the big buns and white, TOTALLY see-through, neck to floor dazzler that is more my body’s speed these days.  It was liberating and somehow just felt right.

Liah as Leia

And yep, that’s my border collie dressed up in the same costume as me.  No need to comment.  I know.  My husband also dresses up as Darth Vader every single year.

Beyond the name, I simply identified with the galactic goddess and never got over it.  I loved Carrie in a few other of my youth-years faves such as The Burbs, Loverboy, and who doesn’t love When Harry Met Sally?  I fell so hard over her that I even gave my first daughter a nod to her with her middle name, though I was too much of a coward back then to admit to anyone that it was a factor in my choice.  Interesting what anxiety /depression/mental illness will do to your concept of self and
confidence.  I haven’t thought about that in years.  Funny.

I was delighted to see her begin to show her mettle with other projects over the years (Postcards From The Edge is still a major favorite – though I was just beginning to experience my pre-pubescent angst and perhaps couldn’t truly identify with its themes, as I get older and crazier it speaks to me in all sorts of new and amazing ways – like everything, I guess) and recently after my (breakdown?), well, let’s call it when I “broke”, I finally read Wishful Drinking ( I am a voracious and eclectic reader, however recreational reading has been a rare luxury for a long time as I had been pursuing 2 degrees full-time while working 2 jobs, one full and one part time for several years before I “broke”) and confirmed a lifetime of suspicion.  We are meant to be.  Like Alanis and the 1994-era me, we have a bond.  As another favorite, Emma Thompson, said in the gooey shame-fest Love Actually, about yet another lifetime favorite, Joni Mitchell… “I love her, and true love lasts a lifetime…”

I think I laughed for the first time in months when I read Carrie’s beautiful little memoir at 3am in a bout of insomnia … I couldn’t put it down.  I cried.  I ached.  I belonged.

She refers to her addiction (s) pervasively throughout the narrative and then on page 239 … Eureka! She nails it. She describes her weekly meetings and realizes that she doesn’t have to like them, she just has to go.  I was floored… I don’t have to like it, I just have to go.  (Not to addiction group – I don’t believe in it.  Period.  Nor is addiction my crowning issue but if it were I think Rational Recovery would be more my bag, baby.)  No, it was everything else that it clarified for me… therapy, getting out of bed, showering, getting dressed in clean clothes, working out, writing… EVERYTHING ELSE.  I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it.  So succinct.  So purely enlightening it was like the beam of a light-saber turned on in my dark room (I was reading on my iphone as I often do with books I must read immediately and cannot wait to order from Amazon) and along with the oh-so-familiar hum of its energy… I came back to life.

Now don’t get wild here, I am not well.  I am not even better on some days.  But I am willing and that’s an amazing place to start.

Thanks Carrie.  You rock.