On endings and beginnings

How I Met Your Mother finale caused a lot of controversy among its loyal viewers. Some of its earliest fans eventually lost interest but stuck it out for the sake of the mother. It took the show nine years to get to an ending–an ending that many disliked and liked. An ending that caused yelling sprees among friends who saw each episode together.

[SPOILERS AHEAD. STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT OR PLAN ON BINGE WATCHING THE SHOW]

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The mother’s death and Ted returning to Robin six years after the mother’s demise did not make for the ideal happy ending. What was the point of an ending that didn’t focus on the show’s namesake and went right back to the woman before her? We barely met Tracy (the mother herself) in the last season. Towards the ending of the last episode, Tracy died within the span of five minutes.

I have to admit, the finale wasn’t perfect. The pacing, scene establishment, dialogue, and specific events of some characters could’ve been done better. But the ending still made sense for the main characters: Ted and Robin. It was their stories–both as individuals, friends, and as an odd couple–that made Ted ready to become the man he had to be for Tracy. And although the death was written sloppily into the timeline, the last eight seasons were mostly about Robin’s tumultuous love life and Ted’s struggle at starting a family despite Robin not being the woman for that dream. But I’m not here to write about how an ending should be written. I’m here to write about the endings we actually live in and live towards.

How I Met Your Mother stuck with me throughout college and early adulthood. The show not only made for good laughs, but also provided viewers with characters in similar situations. They were in situations that many young adults barely make sense of as they live through the necessities of a desk job, paying the bills, climbing up the corporate ladder, etc. etc. Early in the show each of them were struggling to find themselves amid the growing pains and difficulties of being a mid-twenty adult. Back when I was a self-entitled editorial slave, I cried/cheered in sympathy as Robin covered the fluff pieces. I saw some of my own friends in Marshall, both in his law school days and his choice to go corporate instead of pursuing the more ethical (but poorer) side of law. I was also once a Lily who hoped to build a life-long partnership with her significant other. All of them were undergoing transitions. These transitions are messy, yet we need to live through them to get to the other side. In fact,  every part of life is a transition. College makes for the longest transition.

Cringes, smiles, and laughter ensue when I look back at the four years I spent at university. I met my bestest friends there–my very own McLaren’s crew–and discovered as well what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. What I dislike about college was the time I found myself in. Of course, at the actual time, I didn’t mind. But looking back changes how I see that chunk of my past. As Johna B once put it late last year, “you think you have all the time in college.” There’s all that time to think about the rest of your life, the time to wait until your first job, the time in between school years, the time with your future best/for the moment friends, and time with either soon-to-be-ex or maybe-forever lovers. There’s no time stamp for the end of these things but graduation. Not just because of the nature of my college life, but also because of the young, misguided perception that these will last longer. That was just the beginning, I’d think. The rest will unfold into adulthood.

I was 21 when I graduated from college. I was a freshman at 17-going-on-18. I entered my first and the last relationship I had at 19. Eighteen was eight years ago. God, I was so much younger. And my younger self believed that whoever I was flirting with or eyeing could be my shot at forever. Then I was blessed and believed that the first official relationship I had was going to be the one and only one. All I had to go on was my belief we could make it work. That my parents were and are still their first and last relationship. That I didn’t like the on and off complications my peers had with their lovers/boylets/boyfriends/girlfriends/whatevertheywantedtocallit. I knew nothing basically and was winging and also enjoying the joy we were sharing. We were at the stage that left those awkward teen years, while we grew into so-called adulthood. We were both trying to figure out ourselves amid making ourselves fit with each other.

Fast forward from 2008 to 2014. To today, to this year, to about a month ago. Another friend I met in 2011 included this in his statement on the HIMYM finale: “C’mon, a lot can happen in six years.” He was pertaining to the time between Tracy’s death and Ted returning to Robin.

I subtracted the now with the then and the number couldn’t have been more timely.

Sometimes I miss the mystery and anticipation of my younger self: the hope of a forever in our short lives, the determinism to go against all odds, the hope that the ideal can happen amid the inevitability of reality. False hope, although false, is still hope. It gives you something to live on while you’re looking for something to live for. The problem with being older and not much wiser is losing hope.

Perhaps that’s why I liked the HIMYM ending. It gave a realistic sense of hope. It echoed the same sense of hope after Marshall and Lily got together after their break up, after Ted finally got over Stella and got a teaching job, and Barney finally became the man he had to be to marry Robin. No overly idealistic hopes were faced; only the problems, the trials, and the conflicts that had to be overcome to get to an actual happy ending.

I’m looking forward to having a different kind of hope in this part of my life. I’m still very young, as many like to say, but at the same time I don’t carry as much uncertainty as before. In some ways I have some sort of idea of where I want to be and have learned to be content at where I am. Here’s to (still) figuring out the present, letting go of the past, and looking forward to the future–whatever the last part has to hold. 😉

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