The summer before I entered high school, I was enduring a very hazy point in my life (weren't we all?) in which I spent a lot of 2 a.m.'s writing angsty poetry and wishing my notebook would notice me. I would tuck myself into bed with the dissatisfaction of knowing that my life might never rhyme, and, according to every English teacher I've ever had, that was supposedly okay -- artistic, even -- but I didn't believe them. I would cry about it, too. Hard, heavy tears that I thought would be impactful on the situation, like some sort of inside joke between my introductory teenage-self and the low-volume TV set I had playing reruns of sitcoms I had never watched before.
One particular July evening, I saw my very first episode of How I Met Your Mother. I'm pretty sure it was during the second season, and I'm pretty sure every single character was in love, and, let's be real, so was I. The resounding chorus of classy, yet absolutely despicable, running gags tied me in knots. I binge-watched until I returned to school in August, irrevocably changed as an individual by the charm and complexity of Ted Mosby and company.
It was totally one of those phases I look back on in hindsight with sighs of regret and growth, knowing that I'll be doing the same thing five years from now when I think about the night I watched the series finale. (Last night, for those of you living under a rock.)
The plot line of the entire series was both unfathomably convoluted and dizzyingly foolproof. A butterfly tattoo reference was never out of place, but it seemingly always shocked the audience like a slap in the face. I connected to the characters' identities more than my own, and in a way, I was raised by this all-ambiguous, all-knowing Mother that we all stuck around to meet. Every occurrence lept into place, keeping pace with Bob Saget's narration and the bored teenage stares of Ted's future children that I understood all too well. I felt bad laughing at the innuendos in front of my parents, and a certain part of me felt hopelessly entranced in the idea that every episode would fold my life into place like little mature-for-my-age origami.
The sincerity of each anecdote and character arc became a personality trait to me, a friend for the lonely little writer who couldn't bear to count her notebook pages on her cynical, chipped-nail-polish fingers. How I Met Your Mother became a source of familiarity and understandability for me in some of the most obnoxiously confusing moments of my adolescence. I simmered after Marshall's imagination and fantastical passion for the things he loved, especially those Minnesotan accents. I smirked at Lily's spunk and dynamism, like I could learn to ace high-fives and Halloween costumes just like her. I guilt-tripped myself into suiting up to meet Barney Stinson's standards, while also admiring his seamless stabs at the female kind through his smoothly self-advertised blog. I connected with Robin on such a fundamentally instinctive level that the only difference between she and my assumed grown-up self was her Canadian background. And, lastly, I plunged in love with Theodore Evelyn Mosby and his constantly evolving architecture. Pun completely intended.
I think we will all have that book, or TV show, or movie, or song, or WHATEVER, that just completes us. That thing whose details so happily meet and marry our own. I became a puzzle of each of these characters and found a surface for my own spirit to breathe. I grew up (not completely, but invaluably) with this show, and saying goodbye to it at this point in my life seems almost as stunningly quirky as the makeup of MacLaren's Bar itself. I can't fully blow a kiss to all the memories and moments that have sculpted me into the quietly sharp-witted woman I am today, because the receiver of my applause is somehow permanently residing within my own personality. So instead I will toast every musical montage and major pain Ted Mosby endured to find the continually shifting peace I have found right now.
Here's to you, How I Met Your Mother, and here's to all the things that have happened in between.