Glad you asked!!! For this answer, we need to go back a long time ago (1994) to a galaxy far far away (Ballard). Picture an incredibly awkward 11 year old Kate. She didn’t have loads of friends and she was really “weird”. Her parents thought it would be cool to send this awkward preteen to a summer camp at a community center in Ballard where she didn’t know anyone other than her sisters. It turned out to be a brilliant idea... she could have a fresh start! This summer camp had an annual talent show and the boys she was hanging out with were going to do a mashup of Star Wars scenes. They needed someone to play "Princess Leia" and from the sounds of it, she wasn't really the stereotypical princess Kate first imagined. She’d heard of Star Wars, of course, she didn't live under a rock. She’d even seen a few scenes over the years. She joined up with the boys and asked to be Leia. The talent show was the highlight of her summer and she was hooked. She learned about the ways of the Force and she wore a white dress and put her short hair in the smallest little buns possible. She got to be Leia and she got to be Boushh. She went back home to start middle school with a confidence she hadn’t had at the beginning of the summer. She'd even achieved that classic tween goal of having a mutual crush on a boy and then he CALLED HER ON THE PHONE.
It was the best summer of my awkward little life thus far.
That Christmas, my mom gave me a boxed set of the original trilogy on VHS. To this day it’s one of my favorite gifts and most treasured possession. It was what I watched when I was sick and parked home on the couch in junior high and high school. While others watched "The Price is Right" on sick days, I joined rebel forces on Endor.
It followed me to California when I joined AmeriCorps and helped me feel less homesick, it kept me company through my foot surgeries and two weeks of strict bedrest... twice.
When Isabelle was born, John got me LEGO: Star Wars for the XBox and I had a way to pass the time with a small Isabelle nursing in my arms (she was born pre-smart phones). I balanced the her on the boppy on my wrists and played through all of the films as any character I wanted to be.
The boxed trilogy followed me when I needed to gain confidence again. I sought the power of Leia as I navigated my divorce and life as a single mom. I sat in the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon and suddenly I wasn't totally by myself while I gestated a small Scarlett in my duplex alone.
I incorporated Star Wars into my online dating profile as a way to filter out the duds. It worked better than I ever thought it would. I asked prospective suitors what their preferred SW viewing order was and waited for the replies. Most were actually “I’ve never seen them but I’ll watch them with you, hot stuff.” (BARF) Or “I start at episode 1 (🚨) and go up from there.” Or “I like the old ones so I start there and then watch the first three” (clearly someone googled). Basically I wanted to look for intelligent answers... someone who had actually put thought into it and men who didn’t include Episode 1 without a damn good reason. Matthew had the best answer. He introduced me to “machete order” and I was ready to walk down the aisle that day. More importantly, he asked me what my preferred viewing order was and didn’t automatically suspect that I’d stuck that question in there to falsely impress the geeks. He was impressed by my answer, the ice was broken and a bond was forged.
Today is the day I get to watch the last episode of the 9 part Skywalker saga. I’m anticipating Leia’s death. I’m not ready for it but I never will be. It feels like losing an old friend or a beloved aunt. She saw me through so many dark times in my life and I am grief stricken at the thought of losing any new possibilities of her presence.
I’ll always have “Empire Leia” though... tucked safely in its VHS box in my closet, untouched by George Lucas’ bullshit additions and completely lacking a slimy slithering CGI Jabba. She waits for the next dark time in my life, clad in her white puffy coat on Hoth, eye rolling at Han, directing the men and leading the rebellion with the strength that I always found lacking in cocky Anakin, whiny Luke and that spoiled brat Kylo.
She is the heart of the saga for me and many others... may the force be with you, Leia (Skywalker) Organa, Princess of Alderaan and General of the Rebellion.