Celebrating 40 Years of Star Wars...Or At Least The 27 I've Participated In

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I don't remember the first time I saw Star Wars. 

I've tried repeatedly to remember when I first watched that star destroyer chasing the Tantive IV across the screen. I'm more than a little envious of the people who got to walk into a movie theater 40 years ago and see that moment on the big screen, none the wiser that the entire world had just changed. 

But on the other hand, I have never known my life pre-Star Wars. The first man I wanted to marry was Han Solo, and I remember buying lip gloss because of how Carrie Fisher rocked it in A New Hope. If you want to find out how hilarious and precious that is to me now, read her final book, The Princess Diarist. Star Wars has influenced my existence from before my memory began.

I remember playing a particular game of Barbies when I was little with my friend Tia, and I asked if we could play Star Wars with them. She told me to stop it and play right. But to be fair she may simply have had a wisdom beyond her years, because the only male doll I had was Beach Ken, and Luke Skywalker would have made a much less intimidating Jedi in blue swim shorts that tended to fall off every time he bent at the waist. 

I remember when I was nine, and I saw Phantom Menace for the first time. I was right in that sweet spot where I wasn't old enough yet to notice that the acting was bad. I just saw a kid my age up on the screen in a Star Wars movie next to a girl not much older than me that everyone in the movie called Queen. No proof exists that I liked Jar Jar Binks as a child. No proof exists that I didn't either, but that is neither here nor there. 

I remember when my parents finally decided I was old enough to stay home alone when they went out to run errands. I would watch A New Hope and Return of the Jedi on repeat, and then start them over from the beginning when my dad came home to watch with me. The Empire Strikes Back wasn't my favorite yet, because I thought the ending was too sad. As I previously mentioned, Han Solo was my future husband and seeing him frozen wasn't ideal. 

I remember my high school biology teacher hyping us up for the release of The Revenge of the Sith by showing us the Weird Al Star Wars parody on the classroom projector screen.

I remember during my senior year, I went over to a friend's house for a sleepover, and the other girl spending the night suggested we watch Star Wars. She called it her comfort movie. I knew what she meant, and I mentally thanked her for finally giving a name to what I felt. 

I remember the day I found out there was going to be an Episode VII. I cried. 

I remember watching The Force Awakens Trailer for the first time. I cried again. Then watched it about 20 more times on repeat. 

I remember seeing a girl my age take the lead in a Star Wars movie for the very first time. When she put the x-wing helmet on and sat outside snacking on her dinner, one of my best friends leaned over in the theater and whispered, "Oh my gosh Erica, she's you."

I remember the day Carrie Fisher passed away. I was more devastated than someone who has never met a person has any right to be. She was my hero and my inspiration. Since before my memory began, she was there showing me what a strong, beautiful leader a woman could be, and I owe so much of who I am to who she was both on and off screen. 

I remember attending Star Wars Celebration in Orlando this year with my fiancé, and just soaking up the feeling of being in a place with tens of thousands of other people who get it. The actors, the writers, the creatives, the executives and the fans...all together in one place to celebrate what it means to be a part of a world where Star Wars exists. 

Sometimes I wonder how a movie franchise can mean so much, then I consider that, while I cannot remember the first time Star Wars burst into my world, it has been there all along, and I thank God, my lucky stars and George Lucas that we are celebrating 40 years of hope today.