I really hate when things end.
I still remember just about everything about where I was when I first saw the initial trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I had been tasked to write about the experience for the Atlanta-based variety show Scene Missing Presents. I remember my heart pounding, my palms sweating… I was so excited.
Because what is Star Wars if not the best beginning of all time, right? What greater feeling EXISTS than sitting in the dark, clenching the theatre armrests, popcorn long forgotten, and just waiting for those first incredible notes of John Williams’ opening theme? It is absolutely my favorite piece of music purely for it’s ability to reach out from the darkness and grab me by the shoulders and shout into my face, “Hang on, it’s going to be awesome!”
Like our heroes, I’ve been on quite a journey since December 2015. I was diagnosed with bipolar II, I’ve begun to come to terms with some genuine trauma and emotional abuse in my past, I’ve recognized how much my heart and soul are soothed by the simple act of acknowledging my true pronouns.
I am growing.
Nineteen days before the thrilling conclusion to the Skywalker saga, I am leaving my artistic home of the last seventeen years. The building that I walked into as an eighth grader, and simply thought, “This. I want this.” And then the people within that building who have become my family. “Them. I want them.”
I don’t remember exactly where I was when I first saw the final Rise of Skywalker trailer. Things are brighter and sparklier in the beginning. I am more excited to catalogue those feelings. I do know that I am re-watching the trailer a lot lately, pulling it up on the cracked screen of my phone whenever I have a minute to myself, holding my breath the whole time.
Here’s my one real complaint, if you can even call it that, about the Star Wars sequel trilogy. And I recognize that it isn’t a genuine criticism of the filmmaking; it is just a thing that aches my heart, and keeps me up at night. We never saw Luke, Leia, and Han all together again. And that is my truest nightmare. That the adventure ends, and we all go our separate ways, potentially never to reunite. My friends and I are so close right now, and it is precious to me. We hug, and we say, “I love you” without awkwardness, and it is dearer to me than I can express.
I do not want it to end.
What if it ends when I leave?
I have never watched the extended edition of The Return of the King. I can’t. That any of it ended– either the narrative of the film or the story of the friendship among that cast and crew– it kills me.
I am lucky. I have long distance friendships that I have kept, and that are among the most special and wonderful of my life. But damn if I’m not sad about it every day.
I do not know that I am ready for December, for leaving my job or for seeing Rise of Skywalker. I am afraid of waking up to the January chill and quiet of a new decade, ripe with possibility, and of only mourning the adventures that are behind me.
Back to the trailer. “Your coming together is your undoing.” Fuck you, Sheev Palpatine! Our coming together makes us stronger than you could ever imagine. The bad guys can’t undo us as long as we’re together, and we are adults now, and we are stronger than we think we are, and we get to decide what togetherness looks like. Our resources are abundant, and we are brave and good, and, I will not speak for all of us, but I am not going anywhere.
C-3P0: “Taking one last look, sir, at my friends.” Oh, and then we have a gorgeous slowed down epic version of the opening credits theme? Go. To. Hell. Star Wars.
And then that final “Always.” Carrie’s voice. Because no one is ever really gone. And maybe that is the greatest lesson that I will take from Star Wars. Because we are going to keep moving forward. And things are going to change. And maybe our geographical circumstances will change along the way. But I know surer than anything that we will never grow apart. Because, even independently, I think we grow alongside those we love. I have never achieved anything on my own. I have been held aloft by my family, blood and chosen, every step of the way.
Star Wars has always been there. To misquote my friend Nick, “It was like the Bible or Beatles lyrics.” And, in a tangible way, it has come and it has gone. And I’ve never lost the excitement to see it, even when times have been tough (for me and for it). But, like any good friend, it lives forever deep down in my bones, and says kind things to me even in its absence.
For a long, sad time, Star Wars was the ONLY thing that could grab me by the shoulders in the darkness, and remind me, “Hey! It’s going to be okay! Just hold on!” But now there is the laughter of my friends, drinking too much wine on someone’s porch. There is the ever active college best friend groupchat, literally lighting up my life. There is the sound of catching up even at a middle school best friend’s wedding. Sounds I was once too sad and sick to recognize for what they were.
I love you.
I love you. No one’s ever really gone. May the Force Be With Us.
This is not the end.