The moment you realize you’re Ted Mosby (yes: another #himym post).

If you’ve been reading my Facebook or Twitter feeds lately, I’d like to start with an apology. I’m sorry for all the vague and melancholy posts. In just over a month, everything in my life has changed. I don’t mean that in some overblown, hyperbolic sense; nothing, not one thing, is as it was on October 1. But now I’m ready to really write about what’s happening, and I hope putting it down here will stem the social-media pity party for one.

You see, my wife left me.

(I’m not going to get into the Why of it; in the end, divorce must be mutual, since both people stop fighting to save whatever they had once held so dearly. And while the Why seems very important to me today, it won’t years from now, and it isn’t the point of this post, so I’m not going to spend time on it here.)

I’ve spent seven years believing, without question, that my wife and I were the real-life equivalent of Lily and Marshall. Together forever: the model of a loving, long-term relationship with its ups and downs that would always weather the storm. Then the bottom dropped out, and, looking around, I realized how imperfect we had always been, how we were never even close.

Image

Mr. and Mrs. Awesome…and Scooter.

As I always do in my hour of need, I turned to How I Met Your Mother for comfort. While I mourned everything I lost, watching my favorite TV couple move forward and closer together, something else happened.

I was watching Season 4: the season when Ted is left at the altar by Stella. Toward the end (Episode 23), he runs into her, the woman with whom he imagined spending his life, forever. Their interaction rang something in me that it had never rung before.

ted and stella (640x418)

TED: Okay, I’m gonna say something out loud that I’ve been doing a pretty good job not saying out loud lately. What you and Tony have, what I thought for a second you and I had, what I know that Marshall and Lily have: I want that. I do. I keep waiting for it to happen, and…I guess I’m just…I’m tired of waiting. And that is all I’m going to say on that subject.

STELLA: …You know that once I talked my way out of a speeding ticket?

TED: Really?

STELLA: I was heading upstate to my parents’ house and was doing, like, 90 on a country road and got pulled over. So the cop gets out of his car and he kinda swaggers over and he’s all: “Young lady, I have been waiting for you all day.” So I looked up at him and I said: “I’m so sorry, officer. I got here as fast as I could.”

TED: For real?

STELLA: Nah. It’s an old joke. I know that you are tired of waiting, and you may have to wait a little while more, but she’s on her way, Ted. And she’s getting here as fast as she can.

In that moment, I realized I have always been Ted, never Lily. Whoever “the one” is for me, she’s on her way, and this had to happen to set the course in motion.

Maybe it’s ridiculous to look to TV characters for cues on life and love. Maybe Marshall and Lily made me delusional about my own relationship, because I wanted that kind of love so deeply (and still do). And maybe Ted’s unflinchingly romantic heart and the fact that it all pays off in the end gives me unrealistic expectations about finding a soul-mate and the kind of love I will someday feel for, and from, that person. But these fictional characters sprang forth from humans, didn’t they? Bays and Thomas and the writers craft their words and actions: the heartfelt confessions of love; the sweeping, romantic gestures. Perhaps the moments aren’t realistic, but real people created them. In those grand moments of love on How I Met Your Mother, I see the incredibly real, incredibly human longing for the same thing.

Ted Mosby

“…and, damn it, if it wasn’t one of the best years of my life.”

Knowing this—that big, beating hearts exist in chests besides my own—gives me hope that I will someday find her. Perhaps the hope is misplaced and will screw me in the end, as I search for the kind of love I see on TV. But I’m 27: the age Ted is when his story begins. The story of my greatest love is on its way, even if I can’t see it yet.

Advertisements

An open letter to the creators, cast, and crew of How I Met Your Mother

I was going to title this letter “Why I won’t be watching HIMYM Season 9,” but I realized that might make it sound like a laundry list of complaints, and this is the exact opposite of that. I won’t be watching Season 9, not right away, but I’ve got a reason.

If any of you on the show have actually found this letter, I need to say “thank you” up front, in case you don’t make it to the end. So, thank you.

How I Met Your Mother (Season 1)

I guess everyone has a “thing,” and HIMYM has been mine since I found it in 2007. It was a rough time for me; I was living in France, alone except for a small group of new friends, when my father passed away suddenly. Just like that, he was gone, and so was the person I used to be. When I returned to France from the funeral, one of my new friends had the first 2 ½ seasons of How I Met Your Mother on his computer…probably illegally; I’m not going to lie to you. I sat with my new group of friends, huddled around the glow of the laptop, and within a weekend we had binge-watched the entire thing, and then I re-watched it. And re-watched it.

At first, it was just comforting to have something in which I could lose myself, but over time Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin, and Barney became an extended circle of friends. I don’t mean this in some crazy-stalker-bitch kind of way; I fully understand that the People In The Box are not real. But their stories, their lessons, were, and are. And they saved me from the loneliest time in my life.

When I came back to the States in January of 2008, HIMYM was there again as I transitioned into life with my girlfriend. I was grieving, unemployed, home for hours and hours every day by myself. I bought the first three seasons of the show and plowed through them again. It put me at ease to know what was going to happen next, at a point in my life when I had no direction.

bfast club

At the time, HIMYM was halfway through its new season’s first run on TV, and it didn’t feel right to jump in the middle…or to watch only thirty minutes at a time. So I waited, all the way until October, to get the next boxed set. From that, a tradition was born. Since then, I have waited until the fall after the show airs to get the DVDs and watch all of the episodes, one after the next, barely breaking for food, water, or sleep, only being satisfied when I’ve seen everything there is: the deleted scenes, the gag reels, the episodes with commentary. And when it’s all done? You guessed it. Back to the beginning I go.

I own all of the DVDs, but I still DVR the episodes in syndication and watch them. I’ve often joked that you should hire me to be some kind of continuity adviser; I would put money on being the girl who’s watched this show more than anyone else on earth. (But seriously, do you need someone for Season 9?)

The show is such a part of me that it, at times, seems to parallel my life. While there are lots of fun and/or silly similarities, it’s the big coincidence that resonates. The first time I saw “Bad News,” when Marshall’s father, like mine, dies of a sudden heart attack, it was 2007 all over again. I was right back there in that moment.

robin daggersThis episode was so difficult to watch, and still is—I usually skip over it—but it was also cathartic to watch Marshall grieve over the next few episodes, and watch him become himself again. It took me a long time to get back to that place of normalcy, and this episode helped put a little more of my grief to rest.

I remember when I decided I would write you this letter. I was watching “Do I Know You?” for the umpteenth time. Marshall started to tell Stella how much Ted loves Star Wars:

He watches it when he’s home sick with the flu. He watches it on rainy Sunday afternoons in the fall. He…he watches it on Christmas Eve! Ted watches Star Wars in sickness and in health, in good times and bad.”

It was then I realized that HIMYM is my Star Wars. And I knew I had to let you know.

barney sense depSo, in honor of the end of a show that, hyperbole aside, kind of saved my life, I am keeping tradition alive. I will put on my figurative Sensory Deprivator 5000 during this final season’s TV broadcast this fall and, as I have done for every season before, I will wait. I will wait until every episode is in one place, and then I will start at the beginning. No: not at Season 9, Episode 1—at Season 1, Episode 1. On the Friday of Columbus Day weekend. And I will relive every moment, and every memory it holds for me, one last time, before basking in the sunset of the final season.

And just in case you made it this far: thank you, again. Thank you for giving me, by way of the world, the most meaningful show to ever come into my life. I will miss these characters like I would miss a dear friend. You all have helped and healed me in so many ways.

And good job on picking the mother. I never doubted you’d come through.

Love,

Your number one fan (but not in a Kathy Bates kind of way).

PS: You can now read an update on all the awesome stuff that’s happened to me since writing this letter here!