Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Captain’s Log Supplemental - Friends

I have not put much of my writing up here, not that I have much writing just sitting around waiting to be published. Although I do feel like I should remind everyone that I am indeed published, as I contributed a chapter to this book and actually received a royalty check and everything. Anyway, this is mostly self explanatory. I will issue a quick caveat – I don’t want anyone reading this and then calling me up trying to save me from my depression. Some of this was written for effect, and when I write stuff like this it tends to come out darker and more depressing than I really feel about the subject matter. So don’t panic that I am in some type of funk. And anyway, I wrote this months and months ago.

Oh, and speaking of publishing books be sure to go out and buy Jessica’s book.

And now, I bring you a piece of melancholy writing I did one rainy morning…


I woke up at 4:30 AM the Friday morning after the Friends finale, dreaming of the characters. I’m not sure if it was the thunderstorm, the rain, or the end of the show that caused my melancholy and inability to return to my slumber that morning. Had the end of a sitcom affected me so? Why? Perhaps it is because in these uncertain times, with the hunt for Bin Laden still underway in Afghanistan and soldiers dieing every day in Iraq, Friends was an escape, something that could always be counted on to be there…until now.

I am not a big fan of change. I was deeply saddened when The Far Side and Bloom County ended. They are both associated with my college days, so that their end was a portent of the end of my youth. I was devastated when Calvin and Hobbes vanished. These comics were such a part of my everyday life that when they ended, they left a void. And while Bloom County has been partially resurrected as Opus, it isn’t quite the same (and don’t even get me started on Outland). I miss them all they way you might miss a friend who suddenly moves away. And Friends is not the only show I have spent time with that is ending this year. Frasier and Angel are also bidding us farewell. With so much change and uncertainty in the world, I like my television to be an escape from that change, not to reflect it.

The finale of Friends was quite an event for many people of all ages. I was at a They Might Be Giants concert a few months ago and they commented that every time they perform their audience seems to be the same age, i.e. it is getting younger all the time. It is weird to think that teenagers who are now hooked on Friends and lamenting its end were 5 or 6 when it started. I didn’t even watch the first season myself until it was in re-runs. And even though the show had fallen off my radar over the past year or two (Joey’s accidental proposal to Rachel was the final straw – how long and how many bizarre situations can they use to keep her and Ross apart?), it was nice to know that it was there for me, should I wish to return. And return I did, for part of this season, and for the finale. I looked forward to it, and to seeing how things would indeed end. I was not disappointed. Unlike the end of Seinfield, which left me cold, Friends left me with a warm feeling – Ross and Rachel together, Chandler and Monica with twins, Phoebe married, and Joey getting a spin-off. It was nice to know that things had worked out for the group, although it is always sad when friends move away. For as much as I am not a fan of change, I am a fan of closure.

Maybe I see somewhat of a parallel of my life over the past couple of years with the end of Friends. I lived and worked in the metro-DC area for 9 years before I moved to New York City in November 2001. My wife got a position with the United Nations, I felt I had hit a wall at my job, and so we moved. I continue to work for the same employer back in Virginia, telecommuting from my apartment and flying down frequently – I figured it would be a temporary arrangement, but as I mentioned, I don’t like change. This month I will have been at the same job for 8 years, 2.5 of them from NYC. Because my work and my friends are still in that area, I have not had much opportunity to meet people here in the city. Unlike the characters in Friends, I like in an upper-East Side apartment building where people share the same elevator without speaking. My work requires a lot of travel, and so when I am in town what I really enjoy is spending time with my wife and our two cats. While some of our friends and relatives are somewhat local (NY State, Connecticut, NJ, and Philly), and some are scattered across the country (Oregon, Texas, Ohio, and California for example), most of my friends and family are back in Virginia. So perhaps I subconsciously see the ending of Friends as the ending of my life back in that state, much as in the same way the end of Calvin and Hobbes signaled the end of my college days. Perhaps that is the reason for the melancholy.

I feel a little betrayed by Friends. They promised “to be there for you” and now they are not. I realize that life moves on, the only constant is change, and nothing is forever. But ten (or nine) years is a long time to spend with something, someone, or someplace that is suddenly no longer there. I know that one cannot live in the past, although with Friends by the season on DVD we can certainly visit it. I am sure that another show will catch my interest, the way Sherman’s Lagoon and Get Fuzzy now entertain me from the comics’ page, or the way a bike ride in Central Park has supplanted biking on the WO&D trail.

But a new show can only succeed Friends, it could never replace it.


-s said...

The real question is --

Did you spend the royalty check on an ice cream cone or a slice of pizza?

CAPT_Sawyer said...

Well, since it was just 1/2 of a chapter (although don't even get me started on my co-writer's less that timely contributions, not to mention his "my hard drive crashed and I lost all my figures can you re-create all of them" annoyance) my check was only for $250. I probably blew it on D&D material.