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The One Where I Talk About Friends

(from 5x14 "The One Where Everybody Finds Out")

I can't believe that this show is 19 years old. Nineteen. I just realized it when I saw a post celebrating its birthday.

As much as I love How I Met Your Mother, I can still say with all honesty and with so much affection that nothing - nothing - beats Friends.

This show is where it all began for me. In many ways, I felt like I grew up with this show, because I remember catching some episodes on ABC 5 back when I was a kid. But I only really began to appreciate it in high school, when I stumbled upon my aunt's DVDs one summer at my grandparent's house. It was 2005, and I was just beginning my teenage years. The characters and the situations spoke so much to me, even though I was only 13 and knew nothing about being an adult. For some reason, even to an adolescent living halfway across the world, watching these six friends become family made sense. It was funny, it was touching, it was genuine - I didn't need to be a 30-something New Yorker to get that.

Until now, no matter what time it is, or what channel it's on, as long as I catch an episode of Friends on TV, I will drop everything I have to do and watch it. I remember, I used to write down the schedule of Friends on different channels during that summer break: on Star World, ETC, and Warner TV. And no matter how many times I've seen the episodes, I will gladly sit down and have all my attention on it. That's how much I love it.

One question I've always been asked is the inevitable "Friends or How I Met Your Mother?" Of course, the generic answer to that is, "I love them both." Like a mother denying favorites. But to be really honest about it, as a huge HIMYM fan, I will be the first one to say that the latter is a "remix" of Friends in many, many ways. So many things from HIMYM are lifted (or were "inspired by") Friends. Case in point: the nerdy-guy-who-pines-for-the-hot-chick-and-always-loses-at-love Ross/Ted character is the most undeniable one, I believe. The solid couple Monica/Chandler and Lily/Marshall. The Rachel/Joey and Robin/Barney pairing. And even little things like "Challenge accepted" and the fascination with Star Wars.

But I welcome that. A lot of shows, not just How I Met, would not even exist if it weren't for Friends. Nothing can beat this original. The writing is impeccable and the humor is just spot-on. I don't remember not laughing at any of the episodes of Friends. They promised comedy, and they delivered every single time. While HIMYM did start out as a strong contender, I still think that over-all, Friends was a better-written sitcom. It was consistent. It was always funny. (Like ^that episode. Probably one of the sharpest-written episodes of any show ever.) No wonder Friends raked in nominations and awards. And no surprise that it's still being serialized on so many channels, all over the world, any time of the day. It just makes you feel better. All. The. Time.

How I Met Your Mother, on the other hand, has turned into a completely different animal. It's no longer just a sitcom because it has boldly traversed the rom-com and dark comedy genre - which is something Friends never truly explored. HIMYM gives us feelings: actual, adult, complex feelings. And sometimes the show is not brave enough to not resolve them. It doesn't always work to its favor, but it's satisfying nonetheless. This is what makes HIMYM different from Friends - the fact that it no longer settled for being funny. It went sad, and dark, and difficult. It spoke to the sides of you that you try to escape when you want to watch a sitcom. And it was okay.

Whereas Friends hugs you, gives you a cup of coffee, and cracks a joke to make you feel better, How I Met Your Mother opens a bottle of beer for you and calls you an idiot.

And I love them both to bits, really. I have both series (complete, all seasons, with subtitles), on both my hard drive and on my laptops. I randomly select any episode when I feel like distracting myself a little (aka when I'm dying from Torts or Criminal Procedure) and all is fine in the world again. I play them when I'm eating dinner alone in my condo unit, I play them while I'm trying to stay awake at 2:30 in the morning, I play them when I'm sad and missing home. It's great company -- they're great company.

Friends aired its first episode 19 years ago, and aired its last episode 9 years ago. How I Met Your Mother just aired the first episode of their last season yesterday.

And I'm having all kinds of feels.

Both are great, terrific shows. They kept me together in my darkest days, and they stuck with me until the better ones. More than any other television program, these two shows are what truly defined how I treat people and how I handle the shit that life throws my way. And most importantly, how I learned to value the people whom I call friends.

But until HIMYM gives me the truly, completely satisfying ending that I think we (not just Ted) all deserve, Friends edges it out by a margin. The Friends finale was perfection - it tied up all the loose strings and gave each character the happy ending they deserved. Each one of them earned it. Friends gave us the right sense of closure.

It also gave us the Holiday Armadillo, Dr. Drake Ramoray, and Miss Chanandler Bong. And for that, I will forever be thankful.



12:51 am, and my iPod is playing tricks on me. I had it on shuffle and it played "Heartbeats" by Jose Gonzalez.

There is a scene in One Tree Hill that has this song for its backdrop. The Ravens win their must-coveted championship, and while the night was far from over, at that moment, with confetti raining down on the entire arena, it was perfect, and all was right in the world. They were young, they were happy - and the future held so much promise. It was a beautiful encapsulation of what it was like to be in the peak of your youth, to be on the brink of something great, something unbelievable. Of dreams unfolding before your eyes.

 Then Brooke asked Lucas one question, "When all your dreams come true, who do you want standing next to you?" And he looked at Peyton.

I didn't really appreciate this scene then, because of my unabashed bias towards the other couple, Nathan/Haley. (All the other characters' moments somehow just fade away in the background, in comparison to the Naley ones. Plus, I wasn't very fond of Leyton.) I always figured it was just sweet dialogue, coupled with a great song, to set the wheels in motion finally for Lucas/Peyton. Yet for all my character-driven animosity towards this scene, I can't deny that it was one of the most poignant ones in the entirety of the show's run.

This question lingered somehow in my head, I guess. And the song. I didn't know if it was possible, if the chances of such an instance happening was realistic enough to exist outside the world of teen dramas, but I've since attached "Heartbeats" to the hopefulness of that brief occasion just coming one day. That light-bulb epiphany of realizing that it's someone. Somehow, that song no longer reminded me of the episode per se, but just the idea of that moment, and that one look -- the feeling of just knowing.

Knowing, and believing, with all certainty.

"It's you. It's you, Peyton."



For the last couple of weeks, Clarisse (my best friend in law school) and I have been catching weddings after our class ends on Saturday evenings. We started attending anticipated Mass together, and for about how many consecutive weeks now, we've been crashing the ceremony - or at least the picture-taking after - as uninvited, but quite delighted guests. The Mass doesn't start until 6, and our class ends at around 5 or 5:30, and since the College of Law is just a street away from the UP Chapel, we always get there just in time to catch the bride and groom walking down the aisle for the first time as man and wife, with petals and confetti ushering them out.

We would always just sit at the back, watch as the guests excitedly take pictures with the newlyweds; the bride and groom's immediate families first, then the extended ones, then the high school friends, then the college friends... and the list goes on. At first, it was, for us, just a matter of critiquing the choice of gowns and motif, then it progressed to creating the couples' possible back-stories, until it went to the inevitable What-About-Us? kind of talk.

It's funny because, for people like us who are estopped from having any possible major life changes for at least the next three or four years of our lives, we were suddenly forced to really think about our futures, and what would become of us. There we were, two law students just having survived a 10 am - 5 pm marathon (straight! No breaks in between!), having no time at all for social life or any other possible life outside law school, and yet somehow, realizing what lies ahead for us outside the walls of Malcolm. "That could be us in the next five, six years or so," we quipped.

For the last five years of my life, I've never seriously thought of myself as being somebody's wife. I couldn't imagine myself getting married. I couldn't picture myself sharing anything permanently with anyone ever - and this is not the selfish, spoiled only-child in me talking. (Because I'd like to believe I'm not selfish and I don't think I was ever spoiled.) I just... I just never thought of getting married as being THE most important thing in life. It wasn't a priority, and it was never a goal. In fact, I almost always shoved the thought in a locked drawer inside my head - no, you know, actually, I think I pushed it out of my head completely. It was too early. It was too big. It wasn't something to worry about yet. When people ask me the dreaded, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" I always answer: "In law school." And that's it. That's just how far I'd allow myself to consider the future. Sure, travel and shopping using my own money is part of it too. But it was always on the context of, "After law school." Law school was the immediate future.

Law school was my excuse to not think about that. Now, here I am, already in law school.

Well, it's not like lately I've been thinking about getting married right after law school, nope. Nope. No, thank you. (That's still not a likely possibility, given the amount of books and places and shoes and clothes I have yet to pamper myself with.)

But it's just that for some reason, the weddings we've been "attending" lately have done nothing but ask the same question: "Where do you see yourself going?" More importantly: "Do you even see yourself going here?" - with the bouquets and the red carpet down the aisle practically shouting it to my face.

It's actually a question that's been popping up lately, and not just because of the weddings. The other night, while having dinner after class, my friends and I got to talking about how we've gotten tired of the notion of "dating." It seems like law school has tired us out too much already, that we couldn't possibly think of even playing mindgames anymore with anyone else. (Well, I can't say the same for all law students, considering that we have a lot of blockmates who are still very much into playing The Game, with a beer in hand, a chick on the other.) We realized that we're already at this age where we could possibly be meeting our future spouses, and it wouldn't be creepy or clingy. It actually is a realistic conjecture. Five or so years from now, we'll be 27 or 28. 29. We could be married. That's insane.

Normally, I'd be freaking out. I'd shut that door right away. There's the next two-and-a-half years of law school to worry about first, and the Bar. In fact, I don't even know if I can get through this semester's finals. And yet I find myself sitting at the back of that church every Saturday and being not-weird about thinking of what life would be like outside all this.

Is this what it means to grow up? Opening yourself up to a possible (and quite realistic) future, and accepting it? Or at the very least, considering it?

Because I saw a glimpse of what the future could look like, and who could be standing next to me, and now I can't stop looking, I can't. I don't want to.


you, soft and only, you

show me how you do that trick,
the one that makes me scream, she said
the one that makes me laugh, she said

and threw her arms around my neck

show me how you do it
and i promise you, i promise that
i'll run away with you
i'll run away with you