Poor Tara: We Hardly Knew Ye

Tara was a real witch. 

I don't mean that in the pejorative sense: she was an actual Wiccan witch, although she wasn't as powerful as her lover, Willow.  She was good, sweet, shy, and loving, and when Warren's bullet cut her down by mistake, it was devastating.

Tara was, of course, a character on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

During my NyQuil-fueled flu journey a few weeks ago, I started watching "Buffy" on hulu.com.  Seasons One and Two were there, and it was the perfect match for fevers and metaphysical green germ poison.  The first couple seasons of "Buffy" were funny, a little scary in parts, and full of interesting characters.  When I reached the end of Season Two, I was lost, for that was it–there were no more free Buffy episodes available.  I mentioned this to Kellee one night, and she hooked me up: she has the entire Buffy canon on DVD. 

I was back in business!

Now I'm halfway through the seventh and final season, and I'll finish that during my Tuesday (the second day of my "weekend")

I mention all of this as background for this: "Buffy" is like life.

No, I don't live adjacent to the Hellmouth, nor do I have vampires and demons and werewolves (oh, my!) lurking around every corner.  Were I to walk around Lake Tom right now (0533 EDT), I would more likely encounter a weary raccoon on heading home after a night's foraging, or an early morning dog walker. 

Each season of Buffy has a story arc, which runs through each episode.  The Slayer and her pals face different challenges week to week, but there's always one recurring theme through the season. 

It's just like life.  Each day brings its own problems and rewards, even as we follow our arcs (Noah and Indiana Jones even had ark arcs).  In the current season of "The Tom Show," you'd see episodes like "Tom vs. The Flu," "Tom vs. The English Pub," or "Tom vs. Abby's post-Emergency Surgery Blues." Behind each of these, you have the story arc, wherein I'm succeeding at my job, and undergoing an extensive interviewing and testing process for a promotion.

Moreover, this season features characters that weren't on last season: Ann Marie, Sarah the Red-Haired Girl, Kellee, G the Grim Hobbit of Doom.  A year ago, I didn't know any of these people.  Today, they're my friends and co-workers. 

If I go back to Buffy's Season Two, I know that Tara will become the great love of Willow's life.  She had a crush on Xander for years, but Xander had a crush on Buffy.  Willow moved on to Oz, a musician/werewolf, who was a good boyfriend for awhile.  When she met Tara, she found her soulmate.  However, in season two, Willow was still a virginal heterosexual who had never done magic, and she had never heard of Tara.

In 1997, I went to Baltimore to visit best-friend John and his fiancee, Judith.  They had a nice little row house, with a finished basement.  John and I drank a lot down there, watching movies, listening to music, and talking.  Two years later, he was married to Colleen, a wonderful woman he hadn't even met at that point.  Nine years after I nailed my best-man toast, John has three sons.  His life is totally different. 

Each of those years had their arcs for John–the courtship and wedding planning; Colleen being pregnant; new fatherhood; two kids under three–even as his days saw their own adventures. 

The first seven months of 2008 were, for me, about fighting my infection, and recovering from the surgeries and hospitalization.  Individual days found me working at the radio station, doing my little PT exercises, driving Jill to her doctors' appointments, and visiting her in the hospital.  In July, I got my new job, and it was all about training, then moving up, and now moving up again. 

Here in Buffy Season Seven, I've seen a few episodes I remember from when they originally aired.  They were good then, but I didn't understand the context.  I saw characters, but I didn't understand their histories or motivations.  I could follow the episodal plot, but I was ignorant to the story arc.  Rewatching them tonight, with all the details I've gleaned from the previous 120 episodes was far more satisfying. 

Similarly, if you were to take me out of my "High School Senior Year" story arc, and just drop me into my current arc, I'd be lost.  Back then, I'd never seen a Mac.  (Back then, NOBODY had!)  The Interwebs were as foreign to me as the idea that we'd all carry small phones with cameras, or electronic map boxes that moved.  Back then, I'd never seen a CD player.  Today, I don't own one, because they're largely obsolete.

Some philosopher or another said, "Life must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backward."  If I'd skipped right from eighth grade to Mardi Gras a few years back? Let's just say I would have thrown up, and probably freaked out completely.

It might be fun to skip back a few seasons, to go back to the middle of the "Tom vs. Eleventh Grade" arc being aware of what happened since.  I know it's impossible, though, sort of like watching "M*A*S*H" reruns, and skipping from BJ and Charles back to Trapper and Frank. 

I don't know what my next story arc will entail.  It could be "Tom Ends Up Running Job #1," or it could be "Tom Moves to Tasmania, Opens a Bait Shop, And Lives With Some Hot, Super-Intelligent Southern Hemisphere Masseuse/Immigration Lawyer/Chef/Go-Go Dancer He Hasn't Met As Of St Patrick's Day 2009."  Maybe–like best-friend John or Willow–the love of my life waits on the other side of a year.  Maybe, too, I'll look back fondly to staying up all night, watching Buffy on DVD, and trying to write a Vox post.  A year ago, Ana-Sofia Vargas disliked every life-form except for me, and I didn't even know Wind existed.  Tonight, they're curled up together, like a furry yin-yang symbol. 

All I can do is hope "The Tom Show" keeps getting renewed for a few more seasons. 

And that the bastards don't go switching Darrens on me.

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16 Responses to “Poor Tara: We Hardly Knew Ye”

  1. YAY for "The Tom Show"! Fix some corned beef w/cabbage and drink plenty of green brewskies. And here's something to keep you entertained.

  2. I often think about my life just a few years ago, and how completely different it is today. It's actually kind of unsettling to stir those memories sometimes… makes my stomach feel uneasy. It's strange to think that just 4 years ago, I was living with Mandy, doing LOTS of drugs and drinking my body weight in booze every night. I was randomly hooking up with my ex, which was NEVER a good idea, but it was easy. Little did I know that within the next year, I would break my back and have to go to Dallas for surgery, where I would run into a guy I hadn't seen since high school, and he would end up being my husband.
    I believe that we never see it coming. I mean, of course, there are those who meticulously plan their lives, down to what year they will get married, have kids, etc. even before they've met their partner… but those people are some creepy exception to the rule. I know it sounds cliche, but I believe that love finds you at the most random, and often inconvenient times.

  3. Oh YEAH! "Buffy" rocks, though I never figured out what she saw in that Angel guy. But there you go, tom: sell your life as a sitcom to some producer. We can all see your biography in 30-minute episodes (well, actually 22 since you have to leave time for the commercials). And they'd be a lot funnier than some of the crap that gets by on the networks. (I saw my first episode of "Two and a Half Men" last night. Decided I need to find something better to do on Monday nights. :-p)Oh, and Happy St. Pat's, e'en tho neither we be Irish.

  4. Im a bit of a closet Buffy fan myself. I've seen most of the series… and the Angel series as well… except for the last season, I dont know how it ended. Anyhoo.Great Post 🙂

  5. "Two and a Half Men" was hilarious the first couple seasons when Jake was younger. Sadly, it's a pretty limited wellspring of comedy, and they've bled it dry. That kid was hilarious, though.

  6. Yum @ corned beef and cabbage, and Carlisa? That's a grrreat picture of you!!

  7. I think that's what the Corinthians writer meant: "Love is patient and kind, messy and inconvenient, and occasionally awesome with chocolate syrup." What you were doing then, Kelly, has helped shape you into who you are now. The rough parts are the grains of sand oysters–over time–turn into pearls.

  8. I still haven't seen "Angel." It's on hulu.com too, I think, but I'm working through Buffy first. Thanks!

  9. The "Tom-Show's" ratings are strong here in Las Vegas. Fear not!

  10. I must confess….green isn't one of my best colors 😦

  11. we have all of buffy just sitting in its box… should i start watching? steve keeps telling me that i NEED to watch it. is he right? hehe.

  12. This is fantastic writing Tom. And good call on the bait shop. Lots of fishing in Tasmania. Lots of bait needed… but however will you deal with the things wot bite and kill?

  13. Steve is right: you NEED to watch Buffy. 🙂

  14. You're right, of course, Riss. I'll need a Hot, Super-Intelligent Southern Hemisphere Masseuse/Immigration
    Lawyer/Chef/Go-Go Dancer/Snake and Things Wot Bite and Kill Wrangler.Of course, asking whether a woman is an adroit "snake wrangler" will get you slapped in some social circles. 😉

  15. i guess i can start soon. i mean, we just finished The Wire. have you watched it? fanfuckingtastic.

  16. 😀 I'm a big fan of the Tom Show!

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