I recently finished watching the one and only season of the brilliant, perspective-changing, mind-blowingly amazing, Jordan Catalano hairing (yes I made his hair into a verb) show My So-Called Life for the first time. Although I am a 90s kid it never seemed to make it’s way onto my crappy Sony TV set. But I had read good reviews about it for a decade so I thought Why not? Give it a whirl and I did. I gave the 19 episodes a whirl and I can honestly say that I am shocked by how deeply this series has affected me. Like, I can’t stop thinking about it. I dream about it. I quote it on a daily basis. Every time I’m outside my house I ask whoever I’m talking to if they know who Tino is. I am officially a huge Winnie Holzman (creator of the show) fan girl.
I am even unintentionally putting myself into the brown boots and flannel shirts of Angela Chase. Her narration is running through my mind wherever I go. On Friday nights I visualize Rayanne Graff and I scheming to get into a wild, restricted party. Beautiful images of Ricky Vasquez’s eccentric outfits fill my head as I vintage shop. I picture studying beside the complicated Brian Krakow and when I’m on the phone with my mom I don’t see MY mom on the other line. I see Angela’s mother. When I kiss a man, I close my eyes and pretend that an older Jordan Catalano’s soft lips are on mine and my whole groin vibrates with excitement at smooching an authentic middle-part, shitty band leading, stone faced heartthrob.
Okay, I might not do ALL of that, because I haven’t lost my complete identity to this teen drama, but basically, what I’m saying is, I liked the show. Well, I more than liked it. I’m a tad infatuated with it. Mostly because I related to every magnificent plot line and exquisite character arc. The non-stop conflict. The melodrama. The adolescent confusion. The innocent jokes. The hormonal torture. It hits real close to home and even though I consumed it as a 28-year-old fully grown, rent paying, RRSP owning lady I still feel the same tormented feels that Angela does. I am her in so many ways.
Her annoyance with her parents is identical to mine. Her longing to be loved for who she is and not how she looks? TELL ME ABOUT IT, ANGELA. Her want to help others but not knowing how to is my daily struggle. Her muddled understanding of anything math related? Yeah, high school calculus nightmares continue to haunt me. Her intense emotions. Her loyalty to her friends. Her constant brooding. Her obsession with Jardel Leto. I mean, that sounds like a legit dating profile of mine.
I realized as I was devouring episode after episode that yes, we do mature and ripen as years go on and we get to know ourselves better in the adult stage of our existence but this so-called life of ours remains quite complicated. And when you really think about it, your experiences aren’t that different from what they were in high school. Personally, not much has changed from tween me to present day me.
There were conversations between Angela and Jordan that I have literally had with multiple men in the past couple of months. I haven’t figured out what I 100% want to pursue as a career yet. Sometimes I fight with my pals like an angsty 16-year-old would. Parties continue to terrify me. My mom continues to drive me insane. Kissing continues to dominate my consciousness. When I dye my hair it is often because I’m attempting to morph into a new, fancier version of myself. I do want to love and be loved as much as I did when I was Angela’s age. I know I’ll get there eventually, but why isn’t anything as straight forward as I want it to be? Why isn’t work and friendship and Jordan Catalano as easy as I know they could be?
I haven’t found the answer to that question yet and I might never find it. I might continue to have those conversations with men and roll my eyes at my mom and call in sick to work so I can make out with a dude and bicker with my friends and risk my safety to help people I barely know and dye my hair to make a fresh start at my so-current life. But I’ll do it more responsibly. With an awareness of the consequences of my actions, but also with an understanding that nothing is permanent. I now know that I have overcome these obstacles before and I can do it again.
I guess that’s the big difference between teen me and adult me. Teen me truly believes that friendships can’t be repaired and English class will suck forever and Jordan Catalano is my guaranteed soulmate. But adult me knows that wounds heal, interests change, and there are plenty of Jared Letos in the sea.