It was 1977. My parents had separated and I was a six year old girl being bounced between mother and father like a hot potato.
My father stopped by to pick me up one weekend and announced he was taking me to the movies. Well, AWESOME, because I had my heart set on watching ‘Sinbad and the Eye of the Golden Tiger.’
“No, Jodi. We’re going to go watch Star Wars.”
“Um, what is that?”
“It’s a brand new movie that just came out and I know you’re going to love it.”
“No – I don’t know what that is. I wanna see ‘Sinbad’!”
And so this went on for about 10 minutes or so, until my dad dragged my ungrateful ass into the car and we drove into New York City to watch this terrible life-ruining movie that I never heard of.
We arrived at the theater, I grabbed my program (yes, they used to have movie programs back in those days) and decidedly pouted my way through the movie. Until one particular scene came up onto the screen.
“Han Solo. I’m captain of the Millennium Falcon. …“
I immediately sat upright in my seat, pulled my dad’s head down so I could whisper into his ear, “Dad! Who is THAT?!?”
And it was all downhill from there. I was hooked. I was a six year old girl in love with a fictional character old enough to be my dad.
But what was really interesting was that it was definitely more than a little girl’s crush on an obviously handsome actor’s portrayal of a character.
After watching Star Wars for who the hell knows how many times (yes, I managed to convince my father several times over how we needed to go watch it again), it became apparent to me that this was now my life.
Star Wars curtains hung in my bedroom at my mother’s apartment. I had a Star Wars electric toothbrush. My bedspread and sheets matched my curtains. I had action figures galore (including 10 million Princess Leias. Princess Leia’s head always managed to break off for some reason) but the one action figure I never had was – HAN SOLO. Irwin’s, the local toy store, never seemed to have them in stock.
This was before the interwebs, so it wasn’t like we could ebay it or something.
My husband DID manage to get my first Han Solo action figure for me when I was about 30 at a comic con!
Anyway, I digress.
I did manage to have quite a few of the figures. My dad had his own pharmacy at the time and he had this weird little section where he was selling brass doll furniture and other brass oddities.
Well I convinced him I needed the little brass bicycle and the brass table and chair set. I mean where else was Darth Vader and Chewie going to be able to enjoy tea together?? Really!
Comic books became my bible. I plowed through those things and couldn’t wait for the next trip to the comic book shop.
Then life took a horrible left turn and stayed in that direction for years to come.
My mother died that year. She was only 27 and the circumstances around the death are still not closed. I was thrust into my dad’s life full time. We did ok in his 1 bedroom apartment.
He bought me a bunny. I named him Peter, because I was so original like that. Peter became quick friends with my cat, Camus, or Moo Cat for short. Which isn’t actually shorter but it worked for me.
I had a handful of my comics with me, as well as my umpteenth Princess Leia action figure (damn head popped off all the time), my Darth Vader, and my R2D2. I pretended they were family and went on picnics at the brass table. And this was before we knew Darth Vader was Leia’s father, mind you! I was so insightful, even back then! Well, maybe not, but you get my gist.
Immersing myself in Star Wars helped me cope with the death of my mother because I had no closure. My father could barely take care of himself. But Han Solo? He excelled at taking care of himself. And was a hero doing it.
Don’t get me wrong – Princess Leia was my idol. She’s strong, smart, and a leader.
But Han – Han also had all of these qualities but was an outsider. Like me. He didn’t fit in. He didn’t WANT to. He needed to get by, get his shit done, and to hell with everyone else. Like me.
Kids in school were horrible. Because of the mystery around my mother’s death, the kids used to think it would be very amusing to them to make up how they think she must have died and taunt me with them.
“She choked on a chicken bone!”
“She was a drug addict!”
“She couldn’t stand you, so she killed herself!”
Those are a few of the gems that stayed in my memory.
I really REALLY needed to get the rest of my Star Wars toys and memorabilia out of my mother’s apartment. It was a necessity at this point. I was falling apart and I knew that living vicariously through Han Solo’s adventures would put me back together again.
One day at the dinner table, I said, “Dad, when can we go back to my old place and get all my Star Wars stuff?”
My dad got a weird look on his face. He took a deep breath and said, “It’s gone. The landlord didn’t want to wait for us, so he threw everything out.”
I felt like my world was ripped from me yet again. I mourned the loss of my mother and now the loss of the only world that helped me get through the loss of my mother.
A year or so went by and my father in his phobia of being without a woman in his life moved us in with a woman who had two sons from a previous marriage. One was a year older, one was 7 years younger.
We all moved into a new place together and I really looked forward to having a family again. I never had siblings and I thought it was the coolest thing to have brothers.
Within a week of moving in together, my father’s wife made her opinion of me very clear.
Police and CPS were frequent visitors to our home. But because of her father being a prominent figure in the police department, nothing ever came of those reports.
School would send me to the nurse constantly to check my bruises, my scratches, and eventually, my behavior. I started to rebel in school because I had no control anywhere else in my life.
I began finding my baby pictures and my mother’s pictures in the garbage. She was throwing them away systemically, so that they weren’t all gone all at once. I was being erased.
I tried reaching out to my dad to tell him what was going on, both with me and what she was doing to our family’s history, and he didn’t believe me.
Of course it never happened with him home. He was working three jobs because she refused to work one and his paltry salary as a pharmacist in a mom and pop pharmacy could barely support him and me, let alone three others.
So he was never home.
I did manage to start collecting more Star Wars comics and at this point The Empire Strikes Back was out in the theaters – reinvigorating my obsession and helping me escape into the world of Hoth, Cloud City, and WHAT??
Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and THE CREDITS ARE ROLLING?? WHAT???
I was stunned. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that they let him go with Boba Fett. They abandoned him, in my mind. The way I felt abandoned.
Then Return of the Jedi comes along and thank FUCK within the first 20 minutes that shit got resolved. There was no way I was sitting though this movie without Han Solo being alive, snarky, and waving that damn blaster around.
The rest of my teen years were spent in not very good ways. I won’t get into details here, but when the Star Wars movies stopped coming, I focused my energies in not healthy ways. I needed to get out of the horrible home situation.
WWHD – What would Han do? Well, I think for one he’d have stuck his middle finger up at the world and went his merry way. Which is pretty much what I did.
Fast-fowarding decades into the present. I’m middle aged, married, four children, three cats, one guinea pig, and a jewelry business.
Going to see Star Wars The Force Awakens was a religious experience for us.
We prepped the kids by having three days of original triology immersion, in order. Do NOT get me started on the prequels. I adore Ewan McGregor with all my heart but there’s nothing in my mind that can save those movies.
I managed to stay spoiler-free! Not ONE single factoid – true/false or otherwise made it through my senses!
We arrived at the IMAX theater, thankfully still spoiler-free. I even went to the lengths of covering my eyes and ears in the lobby so I wouldn’t see people’s faces or hear their comments as they exited the theater. Yup.
As I sat through the movie with my family, enjoying the looks on their faces, it really came full circle for me.
Until one pivotal moment. SPOILER ALERT!!!
The moment Han walked onto that bridge, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. I had ‘a bad feeling about this’.
As I saw the blade emerge from his back, I gasped, audibly. I covered my mouth with my hands. I stayed in that position as I watched Han place his hand on his son’s face tenderly, then fall off the bridge into oblivion.
I felt as if I fell into oblivion with him, my thoughts spiraling. Waiting for some miraculous rescue and a medic droid to make it all better. It never came.
He didn’t get the burial he deserved. No one said any last words on his behalf. He was simply…gone.
Han Solo left this world without closure. As did my mom. Ironic, isn’t it? Yes, I do realize Han Solo is a fictional character. However, if you read through this post, you’ll understand Han Solo’s significance in my life.
So without further ado, here is my letter to Han Solo:
Your sense of survival, your quick wit, and your heart really changed my life forever from the first moment you appeared on screen when I was a 6 year old little girl.
I lost myself in your adventures through an incredibly difficult childhood up through my teens, and even through my 20s.
Now, a middle-aged woman with 4 kids, I find myself in mourning of the character that swooped in on the Millennium Falcon, helped save the galaxy, as well as this little girl at heart.
You will be remembered as being a scoundrel, a mercenary, a general, a mighty opponent, a survivor, and my hero.
May the Force be with you, Han Solo.
Here are some Han Solo-inspired pieces you will find in my shop eldwenne.etsy.com: