We interrupt this four-month hiatus to bring you a post that has little to do with travel and everything to do with adventure.
Growing up, I had a very hard time separating fact from fiction. Whilst sitting less than two feet away from the TV screen on a Friday night watching Boy Meets World, I would wonder if the cast members were as bored as I was during commercial breaks, waiting for their show to come back on so that they could finish the episode and go home. With all of my worldly experience, I’ve since gathered that this is not the way television shows are made but I still have difficulty distinguishing what’s real from what’s not.
The series finale of Parks & Recreation was last night.
I became addicted to the show as recently as a year ago when living abroad and running out of things to do while living in a town of only 15,000. I’d tried starting the show several times before but couldn’t get past Leslie Knope’s cringe-worthy, unabashed enthusiasm.
But this time, something clicked. Maybe it was my piso’s lack of insulation and Pawnee’s burning passion for Paunch Burger and Lil’ Sebastian were what would keep me warm. Maybe it was my desire for a taste of something so characteristically American. Whatever it was, I fell in love.
Parks & Recreation has taught me a whole slew of things. It taught me that you can be earnest and enthusiastic and still be realistic (though, admittedly, Leslie Knope’s idea of what was realistic often differed from normal views). It taught me the meaning of feminism. It taught me that the world needs more humans like Leslie Knope, who are passionate and unapologetic and would do anything for her friends.
As if it hadn’t done enough, Parks & Rec taught me one more thing last night. It taught me what it looks like to move on gracefully.
I had a great year after college. I lived in Spain! I traveled around Europe! I made some of the best friends I never could’ve dreamed of!
And now, I’m two years out of college and I’m having a not-as-great year. I moved out to California. I came back. I tried to find a job. I went back to nannying to pay my bills and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my life. I keep thinking that, the further away I get from Spain, the less I’ll miss it and the easier it will be to move forward.
The opposite is true. The further I get from my time in Spain, the more pressure I feel to figure things out, the more I want to recreate the happiness that came so easily living on the Costa del Sol.
To me, the ending of Parks & Rec is as poignant and harsh as the ending to my time in Spain. How did they all not fall into a dark hole of depression where all they did was eat Chipotle for every meal and gain twenty pounds? That’s what I did! Isn’t that the only logical response to (what seemed to be) the happiest time of your life ending?
But wait! Happier times lie ahead for one and for all! April and Andy have a kid! Ron becomes a park manager! Leslie runs for governor!
If I was part of the Pawnee Parks & Rec department under Leslie Knope, I would be convinced that nothing would ever be as good as working with her. Her wisdom, her passion, her stubbornness and her shenanigans could never be matched at any job, dream or otherwise, that I would move on to find.
But life goes on. Shows–and teaching contracts, along with temporary residencies–end. And new adventures begin.
So thank you, Parks & Rec, for once again teaching me that moving on is never easy, but there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. Or maybe that was C.S. Lewis? Either way, the sentiment (and the adventures that await) are the same.
What was something that you learned from Parks & Rec?