When I moved to New York on August of 2002, I had no money to pay for food or rent, let alone the tuition for NYU graduate school I was about to begin. My LA friends kept me alive by sending me boxes of beef jerky and potato chips. This is all I ate for my first month in New York, in the 8×8 room I was renting in a 4th floor walk-up in Astoria.
There was one other thing, though, that my friend Cheol included in the care package. VHS tapes of Dawson’s Creek.
I was an addict. I lived and breathed Dawson’s Creek, to the chagrin of my GF at the time. My mood would either be up or down all week depending on what happened with Joey and Pacey and Potato Head and Jen.
But when I moved across the country, I no longer had a TV, not one that got any type of reception. There was only a tiny TV/VCR combo that my roommate kept in the living room. And I wasn’t about to walk into any bar in the city, order a whiskey, and start asking the bartenders to change the channel to the WB. I didn’t know the city like that yet.
So my friend recorded them in LA and mailed the tapes to me. And I kept up with it.
Until the final episode.
Toward the end of my first year at NYU, I received the final Dawson’s Creek tape. The series was ending and the final episode had aired in mid-May of 2013. When I received the tape of the final episode, I threw it in the trash without watching.
I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t bear this show coming to an end. I couldn’t accept that a chapter was ending and that I was cluelessly in the beginning of a new stage in my life. I convinced myself that if I just didn’t watch the final episode of Dawson’s Creek, I could continue being the me that I’d gotten comfortable with.
I never talked about the show again. Never watched a rerun. Never read a recap. Never revisited it.
In April of 2014, after a crazy two weeks with Grand Park Downtown BookFest and LA Times Festival of Books, my recurring feet/legs problem flared up and I couldn’t walk for two weeks. While laid up in bed at home, I managed to binge through all the episodes of Game of Thrones until I was caught up.
One day, while browsing through Netflix to see what else I could kill time with, I found myself staring at the Dawson’s Creek listing. There they were. All the seasons. All the episodes. Including the final one.
I turned it on. Watched it.
“What the fuck?”
“How did you manage to not tell me that Jen Lindley died at the end?”
“I didn’t want to spoil it for you.”
“For 9 years?”
“Yeah. She died.”
Then I put down my phone and cried.
What happens next? What do I write? What do I learn? What do I lose? What secret will I discover? Will I regret knowledge? What leaves my life? What becomes invincible in my memories, permanent? Who do I become? Who enters and leaves through this thick door? What are the words that I will not know how to say? What is air? Where is comfort? What will I record? What will I refuse?
Will I continue to walk?