Rachel Paige
December 26, 2017 10:28 am
Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

I live in Los Angeles, over in the Valley, but I spend a lot of time traveling to and from Beverly Hills. Unfortunately for me, the fastest way from the Valley to Beverly Hills is through the Hollywood Hills, specifically down a windy, narrow road named Coldwater Canyon Drive. I’m telling you this, because Carrie Fisher used to live on Coldwater Canyon Drive.

The first time I realized I was passing her house two or three times a week, I was pretty stoked. Even though I was in the backseat of a Lyft — and she was behind a closed gate, up a winding driveway, and tucked away in her eccentric house — I still felt like I was close to her. Know how growing up, when you used to drive by your friends house you felt cool, like, “hey, I know someone who lives there.” Maybe you’d even see your friend out in the yard, and you could wave and you could ask your mom to honk the horn! That’s the feeling I had driving by Carrie Fisher’s house; I felt like my friend lived there.

I must have driven by her house hundreds of times during my first year living in Los Angeles. And then Fisher passed away suddenly after Christmas in 2016. The next time I drove by her house, I actually held my breath, like I was scared I might burst into tears in the backseat the Lyft. I didn’t; but I did cry when I took a Lyft home from Beverly Hills on December 15th, 2017 — the same day that Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened in theaters. Suddenly, Fisher’s old house was upon me before I had time to prepare myself for it. I started crying in the backseat of the Lyft, and the driver glanced at me in his rearview mirror. I could tell he was like “what the fuck” — mind you, we were already like 20 minutes into the trip — so I muttered something about how I had just got a distressing text, but I’d be fine. I gave him five stars.

Also, I didn’t really want to admit I was crying because we had just passed Fisher’s house, still decorate with lights and signs outside of it, as if she were just behind the decorated gate, drinking a Coke and hanging out with her dog, Gary.

Greg Doherty/Getty Images

Over the past year, I’ve found myself crying a lot over Carrie. Some of it, I know is coming — like when I drive by her house, obviously. Other times I set myself up to cry, like when I watched Wishful Drinking and the special about her and her mother, Debbie Reyonds, on HBO. Some of it is unexpected, because while watching Rogue One for the first time on DVD in my living room, I got to the part where CGI Leai goes, “hope, and I lost it. There have also been times when I’ve just started crying looking at old pictures of her, or reading things that she wrote. I’ve cried a few times over pictures that her daughter, Billie Lourd, has posted to Instagram.

When I’m not crying over Fisher, I’m thinking about her. I can say with full honesty that I have thought about Carrie Fisher every single day for the past year. A lot of time it’s just in passing, as I realize she was taken from us far too soon. Other times, it’s when things are getting particularly insane when it comes to our current leadership/the state of Hollywood in general, and I can’t help but think that Carrie would have LOVED to hate this with us. Remember when it surfaced that she had once sent a cow tongue to someone who disrespected her friend? Can you even IMAGINE her in today’s landscape? That’s a thought I hold onto a lot. Carrie would have been loud, outspoken, and fighting right along side with us through this hellscape.

Since I’ve been thinking about Fisher so much this past year — and not that I wasn’t always thinking about her, I’ve just been thinking about her more — I feel as if I’ve grown closer to her. I know that’s a weird thing to say, because I didn’t know her in person and now she’s gone. But through all the reading, watching, and crying I’ve done I do feel like I understand her more than I ever did before. I love her more. It makes me horribly sad that she had to pass away for me to come to this point because no, I guess I didn’t cherish her enough while she was here.

And this is how I start thinking, and crying, about Carrie Fisher all over again.

I know there’s never going to come a time when I’m “okay” that she’s gone, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. And it’s still weird to feel this way, because I never knew her. She was nothing more than a prominent public figure for me. But, all it takes is a glimpse of something Star Wars, or a joke I know she once told, or even a picture of a French bulldog with its tongue hanging out of its mouth — all of this reminds me of Carrie Fisher. I’ve thought about her every day for the past year, and I know I’ll continue to think of her every day for the foreseeable future. Hopefully next time I won’t cry when I drive by her house.

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