I have been a “Friends” fanatic for as long as I can remember. I remember sneaking into the kitchen to watch the living room TV where my mom couldn’t see me when I was about seven years old. In retrospect I know why my mom, a primary teacher, did not want her seven-year-old daughter watching a show like “Friends”. But I digress. Now, as a twenty-six-year-old for the first time watching “Friends” I feel like I understand it in a new light. I suddenly find myself to be the same age as Monica and Rachel in the first season of the show. Knowing this has added a new light on a lot of the trivial seeming plot lines that played like
funny adages before that are now life realities. In some ways this makes me feel better about where I am, and how far “behind” I feel some days. I am in a place that is not unique to myself. It is, in fact, so the opposite of unique that one of televisions most successful sitcoms is all about it, this place I am in.
In season one episode four, Rachel asks the question in reference to her life: What if the beans we have aren’t magic beans? What if they’re just beans? As this question resonated through the characters in the scene, this question also resonated through me. I know that life is what you make of it, and that the magic beans are subjective. But, as I make my way, I can see that things are not as anyone expected them to be. Time feels as if it’s passing much faster than it used to, and now that we are not all dying to grow up we are growing up at a rapid pace. Simultaneously, life feels on hold. I wait for the next opportunity to be made, for the next important person to come along, for the life that is supposed to be mine starts. So what is the now? And what if that life doesn’t start? What if what I have are not magic beans like I think they are? What if they are just beans?
In season one episode 23, Ross has his first child, and Monica has a hard time dealing with the fact that she is single and childless. THIS is a two fold issue. Being single, and having kids. It resonates into the part of me that thinks I should be on a specific life path. The one where I get married and have a family. The one we are societally told we want. Many times have I had friends griping about one or the other, or both. What if these things never happen? Do we actually want this? Are we destined to be alone forever? When is the right time to be worried about this?
Aside from these specifics that evoke unanswerable “what if” questions, the parallels drawn between the realities of dead end jobs, bad dates, and low incomes are all there. This reminds us we are not alone in this. We are all fighting the same battles, along the same planes. The only way to get through is together, and perhaps a couple of pints of Ben & Jerry’s along the way.