Thursday, May 26, 2011

On Losing Oprah

I joke with a lot of people about how much I love Oprah, including you, my (I'm not sure if you really exist) readers.  And mostly I always thought it was a big joke.  I did really sit in the front row at one of her shows...and I do (did) watch her show every day.  Admittedly, the invention of the DVR has really helped up my viewership in the last several years.  What with my life taking on this whole responsible grown-up type turn and all. I really did pay attention to the things she said and incorporated them into my own life.  I really do feel like she might like me, if she ever had reason to meet me....but I never really thought my umm, let's call it "appreciation" of her was really all that serious.

Until today.

Today is the first day of the World Without Oprah and I don't like it. I am genuinely, positively, not in a overly dramatic way, sad.  I'm really, really sad.  I feel really, really weird about that.  Cause I would make fun of someone like that. Someone who gets attached to a celebrity that they've never, and will never, meet.  That's just sad.  Sad and pitiful.  Reeking with, at best, narcissism and at worst, delusions of grandeur.  But there it is.  I can't hide from the truth...I'm in what can be described as nothing other than a Post-Oprah Funk. 

Please don't try to cheer me up by saying things like, "But she has her own network now-she's still going to be on T.V!"  Yes, that's true...but it won't be the same.  I know it won't because I've lived long enough to know that it's true what they say about never being able to go home again (err, something).  It's just like when I left for college.  I was pretty young for my grade and not so very worldly back then.  Naive is probably an understatement.  I had yet to turn 18 and I was packing up everything I owned and leaving my family behind.  I was one of those kids that was sad to go.  Excited, hopeful-yes, but also sad and scared.  Everyone said, "Don't worry you'll come home on your breaks and weekends every now and then and it will be like you never left!"  In the moment, while I was living it, that felt true.  It was hard to see at the time how my old self and old life slowly crumbled away bit by bit with each passing month like the paint on an old, rickety house. I grew to love college.  Looking back now almost 20 (holy shit can that be right?-dear God..it is) years later I can see that the day I left for college really was the last day of that chapter in my life called childhood. 

And that's how it feels to me now--this losing Oprah.  It's not going to be that weird at first.  She still in every one's consciousness and besides, all shows go into hiatus over the summer.  Life is as it should be for the moment.  But soon-she'll really really be gone and the vacancy will be all too noticeable.  I guess, all this time, I kind of counted on her.  As my life changed and got hard at times-unbearable even, and as I changed and grew up into this woman that I am and am still learning about-she was always there at 4pm on channel 12.  I went from watching her from my parents' couch as a 10 year old, to a futon in my dorm room, to the couch that was now just my mom's cause she and my dad weren't married anymore, to a second hand couch in my first off campus apartment, to a seriously second-hand-caked-with-someone-else's-cat's- hair couch in my funky apartment in the city during grad school, to the first new couch I ever owned, to the couch my new husband and I bought to furnish our first home together, to the couch I sat on and watched from while breastfeeding my babies and sobbing with 1 part joy, 1 part compassion, and 2 parts post-partum depression. 

Through all that she's been there every day at 4pm on channel 12.  She made me laugh, gave me a good, cathartic cry, made me see things in a way I never would have and taught me something new about life and myself every single day. 

Really-she did!  When I'm crabbily cleaning the dried pee off my toilets I think about all the mothers I saw on Oprah who had lost a little boy and would kill for just one more chance to clean their pee off a toilet.  And then I feel grateful for cleaning that toilet and I am happy.  When my daughter infuriates me with her incessant need to change outfits and her constant demands for my attention I think of Toni Morrison. She was on the Oprah show and talked about how the most essential thing to remember about being a good parent is to make sure that every time your children walk into a room-your eyes light up. When your eyes light up, that is how they learn that they matter.  So, I think of that and I shake off my anger and look with twinkling eyes into the beautiful face of my daughter and I am grateful.

I will genuinely miss her-Miss Oprah whom I've never (really) met.  I'll continue to watch her where ever she pops up and it will be kind of like it was, but not really. It will be nothing like that 25 year chapter in which she was one of my life's only constants. But, it will be okay.  Oprah would want it to be.

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