Well, this has been the summer of the re-watch and no mistake. On top of our regular viewing…and one or two new shows, we’ve demolished Supernatural, Dollhouse, Game of Thrones, Cold Case, The Last Ship* (unwillingly on my behalf) and himself is currently introducing me to Northern Exposure – one of his favourites from the early 90’s (loving it, for the record).
It’s been a ton of fun. Last week however, I felt … weird. It’s probably a symptom of my on-going unintentional long-term rejection of sleep but I’ve found myself out of balance and out of touch with myself.
Clearly I needed a sort of psychic restorative. A pick me up for the soul if you will.
Enter from stage right – BUFFY.
Ever since 1992 when I piled into a cinema to profess my undying love for Luke Perry; I’ve loved Buffy. Now, I realise that the film isn’t…a natural Oscar contender. There are some seriously hokey scenes; totally daft dialogue; the clothes; some of the cheesiest vampires ever captured on celluloid and I can’t express my gratitude enough that they ditched the ‘I can sense vampires with my womb’ concept for the series – nevertheless; Buffy was a kick-ass heroine faced with the same crazy making world as me. What’s not to adore?
It wasn’t until 1998 that I caught my first episode of the tv Buffy (‘The Pack’). Zimbabwean TV – the ZBC – had hit a relatively successful patch, but it was usually a few years (or decades) after something had aired in the US or UK before it reached our one-channel set. So those classmates with links to SABC (the South African broadcaster) or satellites were pretty much responsible for our cultural growth. A friend brought in a video recorded from the telly which was passed around my friend group.
It was just so exciting for me to have SFF set for teens that wasn’t Star Trek. With a female lead, the same age as me. Who wore normal (if pretty stylish) outfits and had a mom and friends and classes and also MONSTERS! WITCHES! DEMONS! I must have watched that episode a dozen times, familiarizing myself with Willow, Xander and Giles. I didn’t head bang to the theme song though. That came later I recall!
There were other things going on at the time that probably helped my fixation develop. Around that time, my family decided to return to Ireland after a 7 years absence. I was just 16 and not a particularly mature one at that. Though I adored my family, I was leaving my home. It was a really disruptive period and though it was obviously a transitional one that resulted in many wonderful opportunities and relationships; it was tough on all of us.
We were barely back a week before I caught a re-run of the first season of Buffy on telly. To say that I clung to this one minimal link with the past reeeealllly understates my ability to over-think. Buffy in that moment became a constant for me. Something that was just mine and connected the two places I had called home at that point. After all, she had just moved and was starting over again too.
School in Ireland turned out to be like school anywhere. That first week though, was hilariously awful. Long practiced at walking around with one foot in my mouth; my ability to say the worst possible thing at the least opportune moment seemed to have magnified. It became clear that I would NEVER make any friends, that leaving Zimbabwe had been a HUGE mistake and my only chances at happiness were now GONE.**
Of course, this misery was short lived. I made a friend, then another until after a while, Ireland started to feel like a different sort of home. This process was greatly aided by my wonderful friend @Lainibop. She and I are very different people that just clicked. To this day, she is my heart and best self.
She also…had Sky. That meant that she got Buffy a half a million years before anyone else – and full episodes, not the butchered half hour/cancelled for snooker every second week as it seemed to be on terrestrial telly . The second that she learned how much the show meant to me, she recorded every episode of Buffy (and later Angel) for me to watch with her at weekends.
For four years.
What a friend, eh! She barely even knew me – it’s just who she is.
During that period, I settled in (good), cut my hair (not good), made some amazing life long friends (very good) and developed a crippling back condition (well, duh, does that sounds like a good?).
When I headed off to Leeds for uni, I carried with me my teddy George, a guitar and a rucksack, with my Buffy season 1 & 2 DVD box sets wrapped up in clothes (I actually bought the DVD’s in Ireland for uni – at this point I did not actually have access to a DVD player. Or a TV. At the time, that seemed quite normal – now I look back in awe and wonder at my little dork self!). For the most part, moving to the UK was terrific. There were ups and downs but at 19, I was more prepared for that. And at least I got away for uni – the poor old Buffster had to stick by the hellmouth…
And when things got rough, I just hid behind my Buffy…
Buffy continued to play a significant role in my life. During our ‘getting to know you’ wooing phase, himself and I watched the first 4 seasons in the course of a week (*eyes tear up with emotion*) – my first TV binge with a *boy*.
And then I grew up and left such silly obsessions behind me.
When Dollhouse aired, I finally cracked twitter and made some amazing friends from all over the world, with only one known common interest. Amazing! One of these friends convinced me to attend a convention (which I’ve blogged about before); thus opening a whole new aspect of fandom and friendship to me. Being a part of this world has been hugely positive for me – I’ve gained so much confidence in myself and in my passions.
Another twitter found friend – take a bow @FixatedOn – taught me about podcasting. He made me feel like what I had to say was interesting and funny, especially because it was niche, not despite that. Those two worlds collided beautifully when a Whedon guest at a convention gamely decided to record a podcast with me – you’re the best Reed.
Heck, Buffy is on my CV under interests and twice an interviewer has brought it up and we’ve ended up having a mini-geek-out, which is all sorts of cool.
No TV show can take the credit (or the blame) for me being the person that I am. The people in my life; the places that I’ve lived – these are what have shaped me. These are what I strive to emulate and live up to.
However, Buffy has been a uniquely placed marker for the different periods in my life. She has been a friend; a guide and sometimes a cautionary tale. We’ve laughed and cried and cringed together; sharing in successes and commiserating in our mistakes. And somehow found our respective places in the world***
*I’m pretty sure that I’ve forgotten a few here but in the interests of not outing myself as a utter tv addict; let’s ignore that right now.
**I can almost look back and laugh at the earnest drama queen tendencies of my teenage self…but it still stings just a little! Ooof, 16 was a HARD age!
***Which to be honest was tougher for me…I’m not fictional!