Sometimes, when I’m all wrapped up in bed covers, and all I can hear is the gentle pitter patter of rain against my window, I feel like it might just be this way forever. Being sad is freeing, sometimes, when you can cry and shake and run through all the angry, unfair, stupid things that are going wrong. That’s not this kind of sad, though. This time, it’s just a bit lonely and hopeless, just a bit nothing. But then the TV flickers on, and a dim light illuminates my room. The joyful theme to Parks and Recreation starts, and I smile, and things get just a little brighter.
The thing about this kind of sad is, it’s not helpful. There’s no point experiencing it, as far as I can tell. Yet I guess we all do, at one time or another. So how do we get through it? Pass the time, is my solution. Just pass the time, and smile a little while you do, until the storm cloud has moved right on, and the world seems a little less bleak. Parks and Recreation is a TV show all about smiles. It’s a comedy where the jokes aren’t mean (unless it’s about Jerry, but he deserves it), where the storylines are honest and true, and where the main character is trying harder than I ever have to be happy. A lot of the time she succeeds. It’s my medicine show, because it makes me smile, and it makes me feel, and that’s so helpful on days like these. Just the simple joy of feeling something.
Parks and Recreation isn’t my only medicine. There’s a movie as well, Safety Not Guaranteed. It’s a movie about a girl who falls in love with a guy who might be crazy, or who might hold the key to something magical. It’s a story of excitement, of disbelief, of believing the impossible. It makes me smile, and it makes me feel, and its important, because it’s familiar, but it never loses its magic.
Neither of them were my medicine the first time I watched them. It’s only now, once I know what’s going to happen, that they fulfil their role. I think that must be important. Just like the covers wrapped around me they’re familiar, and they’re warm, and they’re constant, unaffected by my mood. I will always think of Parks and Recreation as a happy show, even when happiness seems like an alien emotion I’ve never felt in my whole entire life. This kind of sadness can be isolating like that. It can make you forget when things were good. So Parks and Recreation, for me, is perfect, because it’s always happy, and so whenever I watch it, it reminds me that happiness is a real, tangible thing.
Safety Not Guaranteed is familiar in a different way. It’s familiar because I know how it ends. It’s familiar because I know how that ending makes me feel. Yet the journey is always the same heart wrenching, honest nonsense. When I watch it for the tenth time I still feel the very same things as when I watched it for the first. Which is strange. That doesn’t happen very often, for me. But something about that film, something about that magic and that adventure, it gets to me in my soul. It makes me feel so many things, things I don’t want to feel, things I wish I could feel more. It turns this grey, bleak, pointless day into something else. Not something good, because I always finish that film with a sense of longing. But something. On days like these I need that something.
I’ve never finished Parks and Recreation. I get to the last season and… I just stop. I leave it there, hanging, waiting for the day I finally brave an ending. That day isn’t today. That day isn’t any day soon, I don’t think. I’m scared that if I finish it, the medicine will be all used up. That doesn’t make sense, of course. I’ve watched the rest of it multiple times so I don’t know why I couldn’t do the same after the finale. But I’m scared of finishing it. I’m scared of breaking that seal. Maybe one day I’ll need that last season. Maybe one day. But not today. Not when I feel like this. Right now I need something familiar, and warm. So I’ll put on Parks and Recreation. Start from season two, because that’s when it becomes something special. It’ll be good. It’ll make me smile. Sooner or later the sun will come out. But until then, it doesn’t have to be all that bad. I have my medicine, and I have my covers. So, here we go. I’ll see you on the other side.