Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Goodnight One Tree Hill

"Somebody told me that this is the place where everything's better and everything's safe." -Toad The Wet Sprocket

Tonight was the series finale of One Tree Hill. I've never been so affected by a show before, and probably won't be again. It has truly changed my life.

OTH came on the air when I was 18 years old. I remember watching the very first episode in my college dorm room my freshman year. I followed it through my college years, and grew along side the characters. There was something different about OTH. It wasn't just about entertaining its audience, which it did. It was about identifying with its audience, it was about connecting with them, it was about changing them for the better.

Although, in concept, OTH was about basketball and the rivalry between two brothers, it was so much more than that. At its heart, OTH was about art and music and literature, some of my very favorite things. It introduced me to new bands, it told me that my art and my voice matter, it recommended books for me to read. It also gave me some of my favorite quotes (I'm a quote-whore). It inspired me, it gave me hope, it made me grow.

"I think music can be the thing to change the world." -Peyton Sawyer

OTH was also about connections. Connections between the characters, connections with the audience, connections among the fans. At our roots, humans are just looking for connections, to be a part of something, to feel less alone. We found that in Tree Hill, and The Tree Hill family is something extraordinary and unparalleled. Through OTH I was able to connect with Hilarie Burton's company, Southern Gothic Productions, which has led to new friendships and expressive outlets. Through interacting with Sophia Bush and Austin Nickels and other fans, I learned of Crowdrise and Global Green USA, and have been able to help raise money and awareness for the 2010 Gulf Spill and other charities.

OTH explored revolutionary concepts and storylines that other shows wouldn't touch. In one of the most talked about and applauded episodes, a tortured student takes a gun to school and takes his own life. Moments later, the hero of the story is killed by his own brother. Real life experiences, that weren't glamorized or glossed over. The emotions were real and we identified; because in real life, our heroes don't always survive. Someone I know was shot to death when we were in high school, so it was very real for me, and I know for others, too. Unfortunately, these things happen, but it wasn't something often talked about, especially on teenage-focused dramas. OTH was honest and vulnerable, and that is what made it strong.

“There's a day when you realize you're not just a survivor... you're a warrior.” -Brooke Davis

After the high school years, OTH jumped ahead, skipping the college years, and landing the characters at the same age and jumping off stage as I was at the time. As they struggled to find their footing as young adults and start their lives, I was also finding my footing and starting a new life in California. So much of the show paralleled my own life, and the wisdom and insight I gained from it has helped shape who I am.

Then in Season 7, I don't remember if I forgot; or if I was too drunk to care; or if I thought the show had ended after Season 6 like it had been reported it might; or it was about my favorite character Peyton leaving; or what; but, I lost the show. I lost myself. I nearly lost my life. It was a time when I stumbled and fell. (OTH had some trouble finding its footing that year, too) I was emotionally, physically, and spiritually ill. I was hopeless. Then I got sober. Cheers! And then I got Aspergillosis. Jeers!

"The rest of your life is being shaped right now. With the dreams you chase….The choices you make….and the person you decide to be" -Haley James Scott

Those were hard days. Days sometimes I'm not sure how I managed to make it through. Somewhere along the way I remembered a song by one of the cast members, Kate Voegele. On those hard days, those kick you in the teeth days, when I didn't think I could go on, this song got me through, time and time, again.

“Sometimes surviving is about all the living I can handle.” -Peyton Sawyer

Then, I remembered my favorite show. I remembered how OTH had given me hope. I ordered the first six seasons on dvd. There were times when I was too sick to move (like this time, of many, that I had a bad ear infection) and watching the show got me through. After a few months of watching the dvds I wondered what the cast were up to and did some research. They were still taping OTH! It was like finding a long lost love! I started recording the new shows and the season I'd missed, at work, and watching them on breaks; while also re-watching my dvds at home. I even found old reruns on Soap Net! At one point I was watching Season 6 at home, and 7 and 8 at work, simultaneously. I don't know how I kept everything straight.

"Each morning you choose to move forward or simply give up." -Lucas Scott

This season I had a hard time with the show. It was different than I remembered. The quiet strength it once had was almost nonexistent. My favorite character didn't so much as call. I was upset that just when I'd found it again, I was losing it.

Then, I saw glimpses of what OTH used to be, and in the finale tonight, saw it for everything it was, is, and will always be. I forgave Peyton for leaving and never coming back, and I forgave the show for ending, just as I've forgiven and let go of loved ones I no longer have in my life. "People always leave," but that shouldn't be reason not to embrace them while they're here; to not love them; or to keep ourselves from being influenced by them.

In that same vein, sometimes, I have a hard time with my life. It is different than I remember. It isn't always what I want it to be. I've lost things I wanted to hold on to. But, damn it all, it's effing beautiful. All the things I love are still there, if I look hard enough. All the things I love about OTH were still there, will continue to be there, even though there will be no new episodes. And all the things I love about my life, or have loved and are now gone, will always be there.

"Life is funny sometimes. It can push pretty hard but if you look close enough, you can find hope in the words of children, in the bars of the song and in the eyes of someone you love." -Nathan Scott

When OTH began, they said it would never make it. It's ratings were low, and it was unlike other shows. Yet, it survived. It tried new things like fast forwarding time, twice, when other shows hadn't dared, and survived. It delved into issues other shows wouldn't touch, and survived. It reinvented itself multiple times, and survived. There were several times it was faced with cancellation, yet it survived. And all along it stayed inspiring and honest. It's been called "The Little Show That Could." The deck was stacked against it from the beginning, and a lot of the time it was uncertain if the show would be around the next week, yet it pulled through, over and over. I know a thing or two about that.

So, Goodnight One Tree Hill. Thank you for your inspiration, wisdom, and hope. Thank you (and All My Children) for getting me through some rough nights and some hard days. It sucks that both shows are now cancelled. Thank you for the laughter, and tears, and music, and art, and literature, and connections. Thank you for keeping your integrity and honesty. Thanks you for helping me through. Thank you for shaping who I am.

"I don't wanna be anything other than what I've been trying to be lately." -Gavin Degraw

1 comment:

  1. This is so true! I think One Tree Hill really affected everyone who watched the show, especially the ones who grew up with OTH (including myself).
    Love from Belgium