Thursday, May 5, 2011

Finality and 'The Office'

"Sometimes goodbyes are a bitch." - Jim Halpert

"He wasn't sad. He was full of hope." - Pam Beasley

There's something so definitive about a goodbye.

I'm not gonna sit here and pretend like last week's episode of The Office didn't mean a great deal to me. It meant more to me than any other episode of the show, and maybe more than any television episode in quite some time. This isn't a review, or a commentary. This is simply me opening up, and trying to get something complicated down in words.

This weekend I'll say "goodbye" to the University of South Carolina, a place that's been dear to my heart and nothing but a home for the last four years. With its bricked pathways and idyllic locales, the Historic Horseshoe hasn't just been a place to retreat and reflect in the sun -- it's been my literal home, a place where I've proudly lived in the campus's oldest standing building for the past two years, and two other of its historic buildings for my other two years. I will be saying goodbye to a home.

I've already said goodbye to a job. Saying my farewells to the brilliant people at The Daily Gamecock has been far harder than I ever anticipated. Probably because they never cease to amaze me with their kindness. They are a family.

I've said "until next time" to the wonderful Film and Media Studies faculty and those responsible for giving me my education.

And now I'm trying to say goodbye to the intricate web of people who have made me who I am. But while we all like to say, "this isn't really goodbye - we have the rest of our lives ahead of us," this really is goodbye.

This is the end of an era.

So when I watched Steve Carell leave The Office in a moment so pure and so bittersweet it conjured only images of the amazing ending to Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation I felt like it hit something very similar to this moment I'm in right now.

The word "goodbye" makes me sad. It really does. But saying goodbye to Steve Carell, and now thinking about the ending to one of my favorite movies of all time, I just can't help but try to feel that hope. To try and relish the sadness of leaving one family and embarking on a tremendous adventure.

This is a vain and rather silly attempt and putting a coda on the end of a chapter. I should take Rick Altman's advice, and realize the hardest thing to do is to define one's own era. Stop trying to make meaning and sense out of things as they happen and savor the "happening" of it all. But in days like these, it's harder to see each moment as "happening" and easier to see each moment as "just happened."

Maybe, and this is entirely possible, I'm just too obsessed with finding connections, and maybe that's why The Office resonated with me in a way the show has never resonated with me. Maybe it's the realization that I've been having for some time -- that Season 7 is the best the show has been in four years, and they've been building to that moment for months.

The thing The Office gave me, and I think the thing we're all really searching for, is a bit of catharsis. A moment where we can release our tensions and realize that goodbye isn't really as final as it sounds.

But just like I've freezed a frame of The Office above, I desire more than anything else to freeze something for just a second and remember these people and these memories.

From one era to the next.


Colin Campbell said...

Jimmy Gilmore, i'm gonna miss you. You're the man, you're one of my closest friends, and you're the best editor and people manager I've ever worked with. Sean Parker says fuck you, but you know i say? i say i love you and you'd better fucking keep in touch. you're gonna do big things and you're gonna be great.
love you buddy,

Brad Williams said...

There will never come a time when you and I are completely absent from each other's lives. I love you buddy.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy, I will miss you. Like 'The Office' I did not start "watching you" until well into your later seasons as I didn't know you until I began attending USC. I saw a humorous guy filled with happiness, always a smile on his face. A guy with talent that I can only HOPE to have even a portion of one day. Unlike 'The Office' you will continue on to do great things, I can see it. The great create greatness!

Recipient of your inspiration, former fellow Daily Gamecocker and aspiring Journalist.