Severe winter weather whipped through Milford yesterday, rendering most of the town immobile. The view out of the windows at work was nothing but white; Snow blowing in fifty different directions, snow-encased trees, snow-covered roads. Any plans I’d made for the evening had been cancelled, and I resigned myself to an evening at home.
After Hot Synching my Palm Pilot, doing my laundry and making my dinner, which never amounts to more than pasta and bottled sauce, I settled into my freshly washed sheets to watch a little TV and get to sleep early. I was out late on Monday night, dancing in New Jersey with my friend Derek, and I was left utterly exhausted on Tuesday. But as I curled up in my blue comforter, I found myself engrossed in The Real World.
I’ve said before that I love The Real World. I watch every episode, and get upset if I miss even one. If there’s a marathon of episodes I’ve seen before, I’m prone to sit and watch them all with the same intensity I’d employ if I’d never seen them at all. But last night I was especially enthralled: It was the Goodbye Episode.
The Goodbye Episode always gets me. Even though I know these seven strangers picked to live in a house only live in that house for four months, I always feel the ache of the goodbye. There they are, four months after their excited introductions, blubbering about how much they’ll miss these people, how their lives have been changed by the relationships they’ve forged and ferociously hugging each other. Part of me looks at it and thinks there is no way you’re that broken up about leaving him. Don’t you remember in episode five, how he called you a bitch? Or worse Give me a break. You just met her. You won’t even remember her name three months from now. But another part of me watches it through wide, teary eyes, weeping right along with the people I only get to know on Tuesday nights at ten. I’ve listened to all of their stories, watched them fail miserably at attempting to act like therapists and philosophers and made fun of their stupid little dramas. I don’t believe that any of them applied to be on The Real World because they wanted a new, strange, funky life experience. I believe they just wanted to be on TV. But, still, I cry while watching them bid a fair aideu to six people they never would’ve met if not for MTV.
Last night was no exception. The wind was beating at my windows, and I was wrapped in sheets and blankets, tears streaming down my just washed face.
“You are so retarded,” I said aloud to myself in my dark room, wiping the wetness from my face with my palm. I looked up at the ceiling as Shavonda and Landon told one another goodbye beside a waiting taxi. I heard her tell him “you’re my best friend,” and another tear squirmed out of my eye and down my face. Despite the fact that I think it’s impossible to be best friends with someone in four months, the sentiment got to me. And it got me thinking: Would I be able to do that? Leave everyone and everything I know for four months to live with people that I may or may not like, who may or may not think I’m nothing but a bitchy white chick? Would I make any friends, or would I close myself off entirely to avoid the wretched goodbye that’s sure to come? Or would I do what is more stereotypically me, and get too attached to someone, and find myself sobbing in front of twenty cameras and all of America, because I didn’t know how to keep my distance? Would I be the girl in the house – because there’s always one – who falls in love with one of the boys? Would I fight with anyone? Would I stick up for myself? Would I even be myself? Would I let my insecurities shine, or would I try to hide them all and portray myself as bad ass? Would I get an episode dedicated to me, or would I be the non-issue cast member, who’s there with a sarcastic remark from time to time?
It doesn’t really matter who I would be there. Because I don’t think I’d have the balls to go for it. I don’t think I’d ever give up my job, my friends and my house – as much as I complain about all of the above – to live in some fabulous house with six beautiful people. The thought alone intimidates me. But mostly, I can’t stand the idea of having to try to make friends, knowing that I’m only going to have to let them go.
I loathe goodbyes. When my vacation was over, and it was time for me to leave Austin, I couldn’t fight the tears. I missed him already, and I wasn’t even gone yet. I hugged him tightly and told him I loved him, but nothing I could say would sum up what I was feeling. I wanted to thank him with every fiber of my being for being so generous and kind and gracious while I stayed with him. I wanted to tell him how I’d like to fold him up and take him with me, because he made me laugh and made me forget that I was starting to feel lonely. He kept me smiling. He made me feel good, even when he was busting my balls. I wanted to tell him how grateful I was that I was able to spend that time with him. I wanted to tell him that I already couldn’t wait to see him again. I wanted him to know how much I care for him. But all that came out was “I love you,” which falls painfully short of what I feel for him. But I had to leave it at that, and crawl into my car and drive away, knowing that it would be months before I would be able to see him again.
To add to my misery in saying goodbye is the anticipation of missing someone. When I miss someone, I do it right. I miss them completely, feeling their physical absence. I wallow in miss, I ferment in it. I let it consume me. I miss until I have no choice but to call them. And then I miss them more.
It’s possible that the cast members on The Real World left their Philadelphia house with visions of a Real World/Road Rules Challenge dancing in their heads. They probably exchanged addresses and phone numbers like it was summer camp, and extracted promises to keep in touch. And they probably left knowing that they’d see the ones they wanted to see, and let the rest of the people drift into their memory, filed under Someone I Used To Know. But if that were me, my Real World, waving goodbye to my four month roommate from the back seat in a trolley, I’d be crying my blue eyes out, thinking about how horrible I am at keeping in touch, and shudder at the notion that I may never see them again. But I would gave goodbye, already thinking about how much I would miss them.