Friday, December 20, 2019

Star Wars Fans since birth. Literally.

Wade and I had been dating for almost a year when he invited me to sit and view three movies back to back. He didn't tell me it was a test. But in hindsight, I am absolutely certain that the very future of our relationship hung in the balance. The very fact that he kept dating me after learning that young young me had not gone to the theater to see Star Wars, speaks volumes to the fact that he already loved me when this was discovered. Whew.

We were expecting triplets in 1997 when the original movies were re-released on the big screen in anticipation of the prequels. For "A New Hope" we braved the crowds and when the lobby of the Chicago movie theater turned in to a mash pit, a kind theater manager whisked me into the theater early. And so it began.

These babies kicked the entire movie. THE ENTIRE MOVIE! I was laughing out loud because already, I knew they were going to love watching it with their Dad.

When "The Empire Strikes Back" was re-released, the theater manager saw us when we walked in and whisked me to the calm and safety of the theater. And when "The Return of the Jedi" re-released, I was in the hospital on bed rest and had to miss it.

But in 1999, when "The Phantom Menace" opened, we stood in line all day to see it -- well, Wade did. I had three two year olds at home. The babysitter came in time for me to meet Wade to go in and FINALLY see a Star Wars movie the first time it was released.

After the hype died down a bit -- and by hype I mean the crowds because the hype was alive and well at our house -- Wade and I loaded three very excited two year olds and headed to the theater for their first action film. One bitty baby got scared when the previews started -- the surround sound hurt his little ears, I think. And when I went to take him to the lobby, his sister wanted to go with us, too. That left Dad with Benjamin. And Benjamin, well, Benjamin sat on Wade's lap, holding on to the seat in front of him talking to the screen:

"Hey Yoda! Daddy, it's Yoda!!!" 

"Jar Jar!!! Daddy, Jar Jar Binks!!!!"

"Darth Maul!!"

Don't worry, we were in a small town, months after the movie premiered and there was only one other Dad and child in the theater. My enthusiastic Star Wars fan didn't disturb anyone.

The next summer, when Benjamin needed surgery requiring a cast after, we were sitting with him when he woke in the recovery room. 

"Daddy, look! I am in a pod racer!!!"

And that boy didn't complain ONE time about wearing his "pod-racer" cast all summer!

And so last night, we were at the premiere of the latest movie, "The Rise of Skywalker." On a work night. On a school night. We were there. 

And I know, judging by my social media feed and the way we had to buy tickets months ago, (And you know, because I don't live under a rock!) that we are not a unique family in our love of Star Wars. And yet, last night, I felt super emotional as familiar faces popped up on the big screen. Memories swirled of babies kicking to the brilliant music of John Williams before they were even born, to the surgeries the films have distracted us from. 

I felt grateful for a universe that creates a level playing field for my boys with their friends (and strangers, and all of Twitter.).

But mostly, I felt grateful for shared experiences with their Dad. In my head I could hear the thousands of conversations over the years where they deconstruct the movies, where they read the books, where they anticipate the rides! I feel grateful for Jedis and lightsabers and even the Sith. 

And I am totally blaming my gratitude for the dozen or so times, I teared up last night. Totally.

So whatever the next generation of films offers, we will no doubt be huge fans. But last night -- for me anyway -- felt like saying thank you to the ones who began it all. And I loved every minute.

May the Force Be With You!

Carol - The Blessings Counter