I saw a pack of Fruit Stripe gum in a random candy store last weekend and I was instantly transported back to the days when my clothing was always filthy from climbing trees and because I stabbed the Capri Sun package in the wrong place.
Sometimes I’d smell like fruit punch for weeks.
When I was a little girl, an artist friend of my parents painted a rainbow on my bedroom wall that I loved. I also had a round mirror framed by heavy yellow plastic that was the color of the mid-day sun. I remember that mirror perfectly – the shape of it and the size – but I don’t remember ever gazing into it. I slept in a twin bed back then and it was crammed with stuffed animals. There was my Cookie Monster, a bear I (for some reason) named Coca Cola, and my plush Chewbacca. I slept with them every single night and I vaguely recall how they would sometimes fall out of the bed and how that would cause me to wake up instantly. I only felt safe when I could feel them close and I used to keep two on one side of me and one on the other side of me like they were my very own furry Secret Service detail that worked for nothing and never wore wires in their ears.
I still have two of those dolls. Cookie lives in a closet in my house and Coca Cola resides in my mother’s basement, but I lost Chewbacca somewhere along the way – and I never really missed him. We’d shared a bond, sure, but other things just became more important for me to sleep with, like Carlin Ozzy, my Cabbage Patch Kid who wore a Member’s Only-style windbreaker, and eventually that guy with the scruff. Still, Chewbacca must have made some dent in my psyche because, so many decades later, I named my dog Wookie. At the time I chose the name, I had no idea that Chewbacca’s species was spelled with an extra E. I did it wrong, but I stand by my mistake; that additional vowel feels slightly ridiculous to me, though not as ridiculous as when the vet calls to confirm an appointment for “Wookie Kalter” and I shake my head and think, This must be why normal people name their dogs Sophie.
I can’t remember going to see Star Wars when it first came out. I was less than two years old then, but family folklore includes a sweet little tale about how I took one look at Darth Vader’s mask and cloak and heard just a single second of his labored breathing and I dove beneath the seat in the theatre utterly traumatized. I recollect not a second of this event and I therefore cannot be sure of its accuracy, but it makes sense. Darth Vader is fucking terrifying – and that’s even before he starts talking about shit like the Dark Side. Plus, from the very start of my exposure to movies, they impacted me so profoundly that I ended up making the exploration of how and why cinema resonates with us my career. But do I genuinely remember my first Star Wars experience? I do not.