I’ve been avoiding writing this last entry out of fear that it would mark the end of my blowout Star Wars Celebration weekend, but guys, I’m about to get sappy. I think this could actually be the beginning. The beginning of something, and pardon my language, special AF. I feel like I’m in the opening credits of a life-long saga. The start of a friendship with a massive universe of characters, both fictional and real. Remember that custom-built family collection I was talking about last week before I left? I’m happy to report back that I’ve returned home from Orlando, Florida with a full set, a chosen family, and I have photos to prove it.
Last weekend, I felt the call to The Light. It felt like church camp, but way better. Where do I even begin?
I should start by admitting something outright: I didn’t wash my hair for four days after SWCO ended. I washed it the morning The Last Jedi trailer dropped and it’s almost like I avoided the act once I got home because I didn’t want to wash out the sweat, smells, Florida juice, and possibly magic. Is that weird? It’s definitely gross. I’m not even superstitious, it’s more like a Marcia-Brady-not-washing-her-cheek-after-Davy-Jones-kissed-it-thing. Ever since I was little, my sense of smell has been a direct time travel portal. Like a Delorean. The first concert I ever attended was The O.C. Supertones at The Roxy in Atlanta, Georgia. I was twelve and it was a big deal because I was getting dropped off. My only chaperones were my older brother and his cool/kinda cute friends. I had no idea that Christian ska wasn’t cool at the time, and I was in love with the entire band. I planned my whole outfit. Pleated plaid skirt, knee high sparkle boots, generic cartoon alien ringer tee from PacSun, and space buns. Space buns with blue pomade highlights that I should mention, because they were a huge fucking deal. I remember the air feeling electric that night as the band took the stage and played all my favorite songs from both their albums. I tried to skank. The crowd held hands and chanted at the end of the set, during the encore of what I can only assume was a praise and worship song (one of those with the option to repeat the verse at the end so nobody really knows when to stop singing, which was totally fine with me).
I also remember buying a Supertones tee shirt. It was light blue and extra large. I wore it the whole show like a total newb. But, I was twelve, so how the fuck would I have known the Rules of Going to Shows? (We’ll get into those later) Anyway once I got home I took my new shirt off, tossed it inside the laundry basket behind my closet door, and collapsed exhausted on my twin bed. That’s not the weird part though. The weird part is that I kept sneaking back into the closet, crumpling that very same shirt up and sticking my nose in it to take these big whiffs later on that night and then again and again throughout the next week until it finally made it’s way into the wash. I wasn’t exactly compulsive about it, but I was defiantly hooked on a feeling, or at least the smell of a feeling. Is this getting weird? I don’t care.
I liked the way that shirt smelled. Like terrible dude B.O. and cigarette smoke, but more than that the tee shirt had become a lightning fast time machine back to the night of the show. When I sat in my closet clutching my favorite band’s tee shirt I could see the stage lights and hear the brass whale all over again. I could feel the thump in my belly and probably other places too, because again, I was obsessed with every member of this band and there were like eight of them.
I wanted to hold onto those moments and never let go much like I’m refusing to let go of my Star Wars Vacation experience. I can’t get off the ride. It’s been difficult, but what I believe will make the transition easier is highlighting some of the memories, observations, and lessons I learned while attending this year’s Star Wars Celebration. Hold onto your butts guys, wait, wrong movie. Buckle the fuck up, (add Star Wars call command quote here) it’s about to get reflective.
Celebration Tips and Pointers from a First Timer
- You cannot be everywhere at once, people. Everything is happening simultaneously so hone in on your priorities the night before. I recommend downloading the Celebration app on your phone.
- Make a plan ahead of time!
- Throw said plan away immediately if you want to buy anything at all from the Show Store.
- Bring friends, or make some! Having an understanding con buddy is integral to line survival. Need a bathroom break? Make a friend, because your spot isn’t saving itself and people get weird about that stuff.
- I am one with the backpack and the backpack is with me. My R2D2 backpack became my thunder jacket, it’s good to keep everything on you and together. Plus pin display!
- Sleep is important but also, who cares? Stay out, let the Force guide you. But if it guides you to Disney Springs on a Saturday night make sure you have a dinner reservation, because girlfriend that place gets PACKED!
- If the coffee vendor in the food court is completely out of creamer during lunch rush on the third day of Celebration, go easy on them, because I didn’t. I turned into Kylo Ren. Meltdowns over caffeine deficiency are embarrassing and I would like to take this moment to publicly apologize to the barista whom I instructed to give me “all the creamers you have.” Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. We all know what that leads to.
- Take pictures! It’s sensory overload city guys, try to capture as much of it as you can. Never let go.(Also clear your phone space out ahead of time!)
- Camp out for panels. I didn’t and I wish I had.
- Dress comfortably and layer. If you don’t you may end up spending $80 on an exclusive silk C3P0 varsity jacket because you’re convinced you really need it.
Look, the reality is that none of us can really be prepared for Star Wars Celebration. We literally can’t prepare for the next one. Although Lucasfilm/Disney did reveal a few days ago when the next official SWC will take place (2019), they have yet to confirm exactly where it’s happening. That’s stressful. Almost as stressful as missing out on a Yavin Lanyard. Guys, there’s a lot of stress surrounding Star Wars for me personally right now and I for one, am excited about it. Physically, emotionally, and I’m even going to say spiritually, (even though I don’t like that word) SWCO will wrap you up and swaddle you in warm Force energy. Conversely the cold shock of reality waiting for all of us when we get back to our nine to fiver is unavoidable. We all have to unpack, we all have to wash our dirty laundry. But maybe, just for a second before starting the load, let’s grab that dirty tee shirt and breath deeply. Close our eyes, remember, and reflect on the glue that connects a galaxy far, far, away to our own. Friendship. Family. Connection. That’s the Light, guys. That’s the connective tissue. Holding onto these things in a dark and frustrating world can be rough, we lose hope. But we’ve got to cling to them, they’re our only hope. And, oh that’s right Jyn Erso never actually says it during Rogue One but it’s still appropriate- “Rebellions are built on hope!” Or, if you like Emily Dickinson, like I do, “Hope is the thing with feathers.”
Hope was the current driving this year’s Star Wars Celebration. From the anticipation over the new The Last Jedi teaser to all the exclusive merchandise and chance cast run-ins. Walking away from Celebration I can honestly say that that feeling of hope, the hope that I can find and connect with other humans who love the way the way that I love, who buy doubles, brave lines, and stay out all night, that must be how the Force works. That nugget of truth is what I’m carrying away from this trip. It’s what will carry me through the monotony of laundry, dishes, and getting back to the grind.
I listened to the entire 40th Anniversary panel during the drive home last weekend. I heard George Lucas talk about the core of his story, of the Star Wars Universe. He said that for him, it was always a story about growing up and leaving home. I suppose that’s the core of all great adventure stories, but dude, I seriously hate leaving my house. I can honestly say that pulling out of my driveway is one of my least favorite things to do on this planet. As a hermit-creature of habit I was a little stressed out at the onset of this trip but I am ecstatic to report back that the adventure was well worth the journey.
Now that I’m back though I’ve noticed some depressing differences between Star Wars Celebration norms and regular life routine. Here are some of my findings:
Celebration Life Vs. Real Life
- “You have a podcast? Awesome! So do I! Want to trade pins??” Vs. “What’s a podcast?”
- Constant photo ops Vs. Constantly forgetting to buy non dairy creamer at Kroger
- Mini golf with your best friends Vs. Secretly hating your mailman for bending packages
- All your friends in one place Vs. All your friends inside your phone
- Long lines for amazing Alan Tudyk autographs and Salacious Crumb Cupcakes Vs. Long lines for groceries at Kroger
- Checking out exclusive 40th Anniversary merchandise at the vendor booths Vs. Checking out hookah merchandise and fedora hats at Texaco
- Also, you forgot to get non-dairy creamer again.
And finally, in closing I give you my nuggets:
- All the guys dressed up like Krenick were either really good character actors or actual assholes, either way I liked it!
- Finally watched the first thirty minutes of Caravan of Courage! Couple quick thoughts: Why is Mace so angry? WTF is this kid’s DEAL? Also how many times can he repeat the line “We’re gonna get you some medicine” before someone offers an alt? Shout out to Cindel though for taking it like a champ. She cute. Do I want to do a Cindel costume for Dragon Con now? I’m into her headband, but the wig might be tough. Wait. These kids have terrible parents. Wait, do I like this? Why am I still watching a made for TV Ewok movie?? Am I about to drop eighty bucks on an out-of-print Caravan of Courage Box Set?? Yes. Also, I’m going to live tweet a back to back viewing. Mace, you better deal with it buddy, and get a better attitude while you’re at it and for the love of Warwick Davis, will somebody please get Cindel some some fucking medicine!??!!
- Is Warwick Davis my new favorite person?
- I need someone to talk me down from dropping $450 on this Anovos Jyn Erso costume, actually, no. I need someone to talk me into it.
- The Star Wars Universe is vibrant and well. The community is warm, lived-in, authentic and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Thank-you to everyone who made my Celebration unforgettable. We’re all family here! (Also shout out to the Olive Garden on International Drive for keepin’ those breadsticks coming, dude)
Guys, what I’m about to say may come as a shock. Only ten days stand between us and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Let’s not forget about our first love here, jeez. I’m setting up a new website dedicated to my co dependent relationship with movies like Guardians, Ghostbusters, and obviously, Caravan of Courage. I need a safe place to talk about why I’m attracted to Kylo Ren, and why Val Kilmer is my Batman. So stay tuned for more disquieting thoughts, semi-emo analysis, and fun vagina references from galaxies even farther away coming to a phone/laptop near you. I for one, can’t wait. Thanks for joining me on the ride!