New Girl has become my guaranteed laugh of the week. No matter the day, the busyness, the drama or the like, New Girl manages to raise my spirits, forcing the belly laughter for a solid twenty-two minutes. Not to say that I live a miserable life, in which New Girl is the only highlight, but along with the joys of my everyday, this hilarious dose of giggles consistently manages to add a few extra, dimpled smiles.
Beyond the obvious humor that the show is smothered in, I find the whole concept completely reassuring. Watching Jess and her roommates puts me at ease about my current living situation. At thirty-one, I am living with three other roommates, which brings my total roomie tally to a whopping 30! Most of my thirty year old friends are married, with babies, mortgages, working appliances and so on. These friends struggle with thoughts of holidays with the in-laws, while my roomie debates center upon which classic chick flick will reign on a Sunday evening. Diapers, car pool lanes and the word “compromise” aren’t really a part of my everyday life. And so, Jess, Winston, Schmidt and Nick remind me that living in a shared space with roommates is perfectly ok, and perhaps desirable, even after thirty.
I am often at ease when watching New Girl because I can relate. Tuesday after Tuesday, I am encouraged to continue embracing my current living situation. Beyond having roommates, Jess and I have quite a bit in common. We are teachers. We have brown hair. We have both debated leaving the classroom to teach Drivers Ed or CPR. We’ve had things for older, silver foxes and would vouch for the use of a sharing stick, in most situations.
Along with all of this positivity, I must admit that episode four of this current season did send me into quite a mini spiral of hollowing despair. I was caught off guard and found my pulse quickening as the story progressed. Here’s a breakdown of my swirling loop of confusion. All started well, just like any Tuesday evening, smiling before the show even began. I was ready to laugh, ready to fire off a Facebook message with the quote of the night, and like always, ready to simply enjoy my TV watching experience. The episode began with Jess, caught in her unemployed funk. Been there. She was trying to convince herself that she was ok with her mundane-meant-for-a-teenager-job, and in her moment of self-motivating-chatter, I could completely relate. Young and quirky neighbors entered the picture, introducing themselves to the crew. At this point, I was still smiling and thinking “well this is fun”. All continued in the same vein, with Peter Pan references, sly remarks of getting older and a classic cologne fight. Suddenly, within only five minutes of air time, it began to tilt in a drastic, deep and heavy dive.
Mockery began against the “young” neighbors. Jeering comments were made in regards to their lingo, the fact that they do not own a television and how they watch everything on a sticker-covered lap top. Sarcasm was offered when their food of choice was alluded to quinoa. Their apartment had bikes hanging in living spaces, homemade wall art and “found” furniture. Something was said about “how they’re still finding themselves”. It was then that I realized, I am not Jess. I am their much younger, wanna-be-hip, teenage neighbors. These neighbors were defining my life, one line after the other. My smile had vanished and my attempt to ignore the realities of this definition began to taunt me. As I watched, I looked around my living room, sitting on my dumpster-dived couch, a bike wheel peaking from the corner of the kitchen, while a bowl of quinoa salad sat on the coffee table beside my brightly covered lap top, where New Girl was playing. I was doing more than relating. I was living that exact life.
Part of me wanted to stop the show before the comparisons got heavier, but at that point, I was stuck in a frozen mass of embarrassment. My ears and cheeks were red, I could feel it. Had I truly declined into that exact state, falling backwards in time? Finally, Jess appeared on my screen, like the hero that she is, pulling me from the dark place, reminding me of how far I have come from those neighbor-type-roommate days. Her speech reaffirmed my position. Like Jess, I do my own laundry. I can turn on the dishwasher. I am ok visiting Prague and do not feel the urge to move there. I own a trashcan. I can legally rent a car. Most importantly, I live with three fabulous roommates who I cannot (in this moment) imagine living without. My thirty-one year old life may look drastically different than those of my peers, but it’s fun and adventurous, spontaneous and even enviable on some days.
After the show, the bike was carried into the garage and I moved on from quinoa to couscous. I am debating the purchase of a new couch, but haven’t quite made it that far just yet. Once again, I must thank Jess for reminding me that life with roommates, even after thirty, is perfectly ok.