Thursday, April 28, 2011

Love Wins: Saying Goodbye to Michael Scott


I'm feeling pretty emotional today. As a matter of fact, I've been feeling pretty emotional a lot over the past few weeks. Every time I have thought about what was going to happen tonight, I've gotten choked up. And I've been reflecting upon the why's of my being so emotional... what is it about Michael Scott's character leaving "The Office" that has me a bit of a basket case?

Oh boy, there are so many answers to that question.

From the time that the show premiered, I've been a fan. I remember seeing the previews for the first episode and I remember watching it for the first time. I'd heard great things about the UK series and I was certain that this show was going to finally fill the void in my relationship with television that "Seinfeld" had left seven years earlier. And it did. Dunder Mifflin had me from the beginning.

In 2005, I was a brand new mom. And I was a wreck. Not that I'm not a wreck now but I was worse. I was immature and scared and alone and newly married and not great at much of anything. "The Office" came along and gave me something to laugh about. It gave me something to do once a week that took my mind off of being exhausted and hating breastfeeding and hating being exhausted and hating that I hated breastfeeding. It was a mental vacation. I lived for Thursday night television again.

In 2006, my mom died right after I had given birth to another baby who I hated to breastfeed. I was even more of a wreck. And to this day, I'm almost certain that "The Office" saved my life. The small amount of serotonin that my body produced each week while I watched my favorite television show might very well have been the only thing that kept me from killing myself. You may think that I'm exaggerating but let me promise you that I am not. I was not doing well. I realized how much trouble I was in. I even emailed one of the cast members of "The Office" and told her how much I appreciated the laughter because I was going through a really hard time in my life. She wrote me back a couple of times to check on me. She encouraged me to keep going and reminded me that "This too shall pass." And she thanked me for watching. Her gesture helped tremendously.

I felt so alone in my life. Sure, I was married and I had two children but it didn't seem to matter. I had always been alone, really. And I am pretty sure it was my struggles with feeling alone that made me fall in love with Michael Scott. Yes, he's annoying and a little pathetic at times. But ultimately the one word I use to describe him is precious. He loves so completely and is so desperate to not end up alone. I could so totally relate to him.

A few years before I was married, in my early 20s, I had reached the epitome of pathetic. I was working at a small sandwich shop on the square, going to school, and dating a guy who was keeping me a secret from everyone in his life. I'd become friends with the people who ran the shop (a woman in her 30s who was living with a guy who wouldn't marry her) and I had no other friends. At some point these people went on a cruise and I was left to work with this woman who I didn't like and I thought the owners didn't like her either. While they were gone, the woman did a lot of crazy manipulative things and made me really upset. And at some point, I found a mouse outside on the sidewalk and I decided to bury it because I felt so sad for the mouse. This won me the label of "crazy". Which I was. But I don't think that burying the mouse is what made me crazy. I either quit that job or they fired me immediately after that incident. I moved on to more unhealthy crap in my life. Getting married and having kids didn't cure me from that craziness.

There is a part of me that is still living in that space. Of course, I have more friends than I've ever had in my life. I feel relatively good about myself. I'm pretty stable emotionally. I make fairly reasonable decisions and I'm able to write things that people will read. I'm living out a decent number of my dreams, actually.

But despite the fact that I've evolved, I am easily taken back to that space. That time in my life when I was so lonely that I would cry myself to sleep most nights because I didn't have the guts to get a different boyfriend or a better job or to pursue any of my dreams. I was weak. I was pathetic. I was afraid.

I deserved better though.

I can't tell you how many times I've been moved right back to that time in my life while watching Michael Scott's character on "The Office". So many of his scenes have touched my heart and reminded me of that deep deep fear of being alone. But I am pretty sure that I was most reminded of that time in my life during the episode "Grief Counseling" where Michael insists that the staff attend a funeral for a bird. Most everyone at Dunder Mifflin thinks that Michael is just crazy but Pam realizes that Michael is displacing his grief for a company man who died and his fear of dying alone onto this bird. She treats him kindly. She says about the bird during her eulogy, "Lastly we cannot help but notice that he was by himself when he died. But of course, we all know that doesn't mean he was alone. Because I am sure there were lots of other birds out there who cared for him very much. He will not be forgotten."

Unfortunately, I didn't have any Pams... or Jims... or even Dwights in my life when I was the loneliest I'd ever been. But having been at that place only a few short years ago, I was so easily able to relate to Michael's character. He was so real to me. So authentic. And I couldn't help but fall deeply in love with him. And week after week, season after season I have hurt for him, I have laughed with him, I have cried with him, and I have desperately wanted him to finally not be alone. Because if Michael Scott didn't deserve love then maybe I didn't either. And I guess I'm still not sure that I do.

So a few weeks ago when my kids and I watched Michael Scott get down on one knee and ask the woman he loves and who LOVES HIM BACK to marry him, I felt victorious for not only Michael but for myself as well. It kinda marks an end of an era. An end to loneliness. Because I have at least two good friends who I trust and I'm learning to even trust the man I married, despite our sketchy past. And I'm starting to accept the love that others are giving to me so freely. Why the hell they'd want to love me, I don't know! But I'm glad they do!

Unfortunately, tonight marks the end of an additional era. Tonight fans of "The Office" will say goodbye to Michael Scott. Steve Carell, the actor who portrays this beautiful and complex character so amazingly well, has decided to move on. Michael's character is getting married and moving away. While I'm so glad that the character is leaving because he finally got the love and happiness that he deserves, I hate to see him go.

I truly doubt that there will ever be a television character to capture my heart quite like he has.

And so, as I gear up for the last episode of my favorite show featuring my favorite television character of all time, I feel extremely sad. It is a great loss. It's a great loss for television. A great loss for Dunder Mifflin. But it's also a great loss for me, personally. For now I must fully turn over a new leaf. If Michael Scott if no longer alone then I can't be either.

So, I welcome a new attitude. New belief system. New realization that I am, in fact, not alone.

And say hello to a new beginning.

Thank you, Michael. I'll miss you. But I'm so glad that in the end, love wins. Even for people like us.

5 comments:

  1. I did not expect such a deep post on this subject! You're making me get more sentimental about it, too! It
    IS sad, even for people not as emotionally tied to the character. :(

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  2. Oh, Mandy, this is really touching! Hopefully it will catch the attention of the Office folks! I think they would be honored:)

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  3. You've made me cry. I loved this so, so much. Thank you for being so open, and for being you.

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  4. Oh...you have me almost crying and I don't even watch the show.

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  5. What a great post. I have watched it from the beginning too and have loved the character. It was a great episode, of course Jim's good bye had me blubbering. Thanks for being so open.

    Tara

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