The New Year is official and I am caught wondering: Suppose it’s bad luck not to receive a kiss at the stroke of midnight. And suppose there is a sliding scale of symbolic acts that will bring with them varying degrees of fortune in the year to come. Where does watching all six Star Wars movies in episodic order, my only companions being cheap wine and a pack of cigarettes, leave me? It can’t be good. Or, maybe, it’s perfect. The year is still too young to know.
My journey began at 2:15 P.M. 31 December 2005 and would not end for another 14 hours. I don’t know how to explain why I went through with this experiment, or what prompted the discussion that led me down this path. I only hope that someday enough distance will pass between me and New Year’s Eve 2005 to allow me view the world (and myself) as once again sane. It was a joke gone too far, and an exercise in psychology that shouldn’t be repeated, except in controlled environments with the highest-quality doctors on staff.
31 Dec 1969: A galaxy far, far away
Though I was wildly bored and insulted by Episode I - The Phantom Menace, watching it passed without incident or personal crisis. At the time I was unaware of just how lucky I was that this was the case, because by the end of Episode II - Attack of the Clones I could feel myself beginning to slip. The sun had set and voices and music had begun to drift in through my window. Parties were just beginning and my solitude, now juxtaposed with the outside world, was beginning to bother me.
My mind began reeling with ideas. “I can still make it out,” I thought to myself. “Interact. Yes, go out: that’s what I want to do. It’s early, there is a plenty of time to track down a party.” I began to scroll through my cell phone at record speed. Five minutes later my fleeting hope had vanished as my options presented themselves: 1) Meet a friend at a Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore; 2) Hop a train to NY; 3) Fly to Miami; 4) Go to a Couples party in Norfolk or 5) Go to my local haunt in Georgetown all by my lonesome. Option Five lingered for a moment before I dismissed it. I’m too afraid of Georgetown University undergrads to venture out on such a crowded night. They would be out in droves.
And so I pushed forward.
It was 7:10 P.M. and I was a little drunk. Resigned to spending my evening at home, and a little anxious to find out what the night would hold, I pressed play on Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. This was the point of no return. I had already invested four-plus hours and by the end of Episode III it would be almost seven. Though I enjoyed myself for the first time all day, I still had to remind myself that what I was doing was okay, that it was funny, and that this marathon did not speak volumes about me as a person.
Then I did something that can never be undone: I pressed play and began Episode IV - A New Hope.
By the middle of the film, I was no longer embarrassed; I began thinking only of plot details and inconsistencies. I was completely focused on the story. So entrenched was I that during the film it never occurred to me that my reality had been altered. It wasn’t until the movie ended and my apartment was again flooded by the sounds of parties outside that I realized I should care less about Chewbacca and avoiding the crowds of Georgetown than about finding someone with whom I could ring in the New Year.
It was exactly 12:00 A.M. when the Episode IV credits began to role. A New Hope indeed. Very poetic. Very disturbing. My descent into Lucas’s world was complete. It was then, my thoughts nearly drowned by “1999” and party favors, that I first feared I may never be the same.
More disturbing evidence of my descent came about one-third of the way through Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. I realized how drunk and crazy I had become when I began—out of nowhere—to laugh aloud at my own inner-monologue. Though it happened more than once that night, the first time, at 1:05 A.M. was the most absurd. My thought process transcribed exactly as it occurred that night:
After avoiding the Imperial fleet by out-maneuvering them in an asteroid field and seeking shelter in what Han thought was a cave:
LEIA: The cave is collapsing.
HAN: This is no cave.
HAN: This is no cave.
ME: No, you’re right Han, it isn’t. It’s a sock-puppet shaped like a penis. [Giggles].
Dear god, I’ve placed myself in the story,” I thought. “Quick! Human interaction! Please for the love of god someone knock on my door. No, there would be too much to explain. STAY AWAY. Help?”
When my night ended with Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, I swear that I whimpered. Maybe I cheered. I can’t really remember. There was nothing left to say or do. I had hell’s own amount of wine and beer in my system and could not think about anything but the movies. I fell asleep wondering how I was going to explain it all. Maybe it would all be fine in the morning.
This was not the case. After a restless sleep, I woke up New Year’s Day with Star Wars still bounding around my wine-soaked head. It occurred to me then, as it still does now, that my old world outlook may never return. I have been affected. I have sat and watched the entire rise and fall of the Empire in one night. It was as though I was there, among the rebels, struggling with them to reign in peace and return democracy to the Republic. And now, I have been sent to sea on a CGI life raft; left to drift aimlessly though a world not half as interesting as the one in my head.
// Notes from the Road
"Rhiannon Giddens, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, brought her Freedom Highway tour to New York for a powerful show. The tour resumes next week and hits Newport Folk later this summer.READ the article