I have many feelings about the HIMYM finale (and they are related to this blog)

It has been a long, long time since I’ve posted, mostly because I don’t have a lot of spare time to write anymore.  I tried writing today, but my 4 1/2 month old baby only accepted being ignored for about five minutes.  Meanwhile, while she was napping, I was trying to eat.

But nevertheless, I have come out of hibernation, and I have come out of hibernation because of a tv show.  A tv show, you ask?  Yes.

**Spoilers ahead for How I Met Your Mother and Game of Thrones.

I’ve always been the type of person to get emotionally invested in tales of fiction.  It’s why I can’t watch horror movies, especially those involving torture–I have way too much empathy.  Lately, that empathy has gotten ratcheted up when I see a situation which directly relates to my life: that is to say, it deals with finding love and beginning a family.  The infamous Red Wedding on Game of Thrones aired when I was newly pregnant, still in my first trimester.  My husband had been trying to make me pregnancy cry as a sport for weeks, and every time we saw something touching and/ or kid related, he’d give me puppy dog eyes.  Well, when they stabbed the pregnant lady in the stomach, I absolutely lost it.  I sobbed, because I was already so fearful of the precious little bean I had inside me suddenly losing hold and slipping away, and to think that someone could end something so innocent with such violence left me shocked.

The finale of How I Met Your Mother is actually not that far off with its emotional betrayal.  Actually, it was worse.  At least Game of Thrones warned you with Ned Stark’s death not to get attached to anyone.  Ever.  How I Met Your Mother charmed me, lured me in.  And promised me emotional payoff.  It was right there in the damn title.

At first it seemed like we would get the payoff.  We saw more and more glimpses of the Mother over the final season, and she was utterly perfect for Ted.  She didn’t just get him, she shared things with him.  He has a flail from the Renaissance Fair, she has a jousting lance.  She dressed up as an old Floridian lady to his hanging chad.  It reminded me very much of how me and MR are together.  We share a lot of things, things that when I was single I worried would put off guys, but no.  And those quirks we don’t share just make us more endearing to the other.

That’s the thing.  I get Ted.  I’ve always felt he reflected what it’s like to be a true romantic and single and aching to find ‘the one.’  Before my sudden and crazy romance began, Ted was my touchstone.  First his boundless hope, then it slowly running dry and the fear and exhaustion that sets in.  I could go through episodes, but the list would just be far too long.  In fact, his attachment to Robin was pretty tangential to me as I watched the show.

‘Trilogy Time’ aired just months before I got married.  At the end of the episode, Ted walks in cradling his baby daughter in his arms, and we knew his happiness was just around the corner.  I felt so much the same way.  Just a year before that episode aired, I was like Ted, having given up on the hope of having a husband and a family, wondering if the future could possibly hold anything for me.  But then things changed overnight, just like that, and I was on the cusp of my own happiness.

And that’s where the betrayal lies.  In ‘Shelter Island’, when Ted is about to marry Stella, Robin gives him this big speech about how he deserves his own grand ending, because he is the grand romantic, and instead he is sinking into someone else’s life.  That’s exactly what happened–instead of getting his grand romantic moment with Tracy, Ted just circles on back to Robin, and instead of being celebrated, becomes subsumed.

Moreover, it sends a troubling message to those of us who empathized with Ted, who felt the pain and the fear of being single, and who know either now or in the future what it is to find happiness.  HIMYM says ‘You know that dream that seems so ethereal that it might not ever materialize?  It will.  And then it will DIE.’  In other words, after years of patience you get a second of joy.  HIMYM tells me that since I’ve found happiness, I’m going to lose it.  And that turns a sweet and funny show into something crushingly depressing.

All to turn their intelligent, human characters into Ross and Rachel for the teens

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Not so very different, so what does this say about our fate?

A New Hope

So it turns out that 2011 was my last year of singledom.  I had no idea.

A year ago, at the dawn of 2011, I didn’t know the fiance existed on this planet.  Now I’m going to marry him.  The change stuns me, quite frankly, because after so many years where nothing happened, everything happened all at once, and suddenly I can legitimately buy bridal magazines and have a vested interest in Say Yes to the Dress.

I had to drop the fiance off at the airport the other night, and that sucked, but as we were sitting in JFK’s Terminal 4, we realized that we really only have three more goodbyes, and then we get to be together for always.  And when I feel lonely (or every so often just because), I look down at my left hand and squeal to myself, “I’m getting married!”

But–I am hereby making a promise to the blogiverse.  I’m never going to become what Bridget Jones would call a ‘smug married.’    I still remember that decade of singledom and how much it sucked.  Possibly the worst part was the single v. couple line, the envy I often felt, the wondering why it couldn’t be me too, or why every guy I seemed to meet was already in a relationship.  Was there a memo to pair off Noah’s Ark style and I missed it?

Last night I went out to dinner with some old friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen in awhile.  My friend Robyn asked him what was new, and made a point of saying not just in relationships.  She went on to say how much she hated that, when all people ask about is relationships, as if that’s the only newsworthy thing in a person’s life.  While that is certainly the juiciest gossip, as my friend pointed out, it is hardly the end all and be all.

So I am reminding myself that I have a life outside my engagement, and that people don’t want to talk about wedding dresses all the time.  Everyone has been really sweet whenever I do talk about it, which I really appreciate.  Still, I’m not going to forget what it was like to be single.  Those are my ‘roots’ as it were.  That decade of singledom shaped me in a lot of ways, some for the better, some for the worse.  But those years led me to here, and my engagement.

That said, I hope people also take heart from my story.  When I first got back from my whirlwind month of romance in August, I went to Robyn’s birthday party and I was talking to one of her friends who I know.  She said to me ‘you give me so much hope, that this all just happened so suddenly.’  True story!  Seriously–I was the worst single person in the world.  I moaned and cried and did very little in actuality.  I got some crushes on some dudes in deeply committed relationships.  I went on some dates with a Swede who was the worst kisser in the world and insisted on kissing me in public, and another guy who was the blandest guy in the world.  I tried eHarmony, Match.com, OK Cupid, all with almost no success.

I was seriously about to give up hope.  I started having ‘what if’ daydreams, planning what I would do if I never got married, wondering how I would cope for singledom forever and never having a family.  When other people would helpfully try to suggest that someone was out there for me, I would respond with ‘But what if he’s on the other side of the world and I never get to meet him?’

As it happens, he was on the other side of the world, but I did get to meet him.  And I would say he was well worth the wait.

So the moral of the story is–there really is someone out there.  There may not be plenty of fish in the sea, as it were (a phrase the fiance particularly reviled in his days of singledom), but if you wait and watch, you can catch your fish.  And really, all you need is one.