My love affair with The Office started in late 2005, in the middle of season two. I accidentally caught some of the Halloween episode in a rerun. I thought the tall guy with the black dots on his shirt was cute; I stuck around for another two minutes for Steve Carell. It was meh. Nothing special. I had a whole queue of shows I was invested in (in case you need reminding, the 2005 Fall TV season remains the pinnacle of man's achievement, giving us House, Lost, how i met your mother, 30 Rock, the first season of Prison Break, and others) so it was no big deal. But I kept hearing how amazing and hilarious this show was. The first live episode I watched was Booze Cruise, with the infamous 27 seconds of silence between Jim and Pam. The second was The Injury, which to this day is my favorite 22 minutes of comedic television writing ever. Thus began my obsession with The Office, both the show and the fandom.
The obsession started out by purchasing the first season and watching through that. Then it turned to watching the commentaries and deleted scenes and finding fanvids (this was the first one I ever watched, and this Battlestar Galactica/Office mashup is one of the greatest things ever; oh, and here), and looking up information on John Krasinski. And then at some point it took a nosedive into doing research into ALL the cast and crew, and following Pam, Kevin, and Angela on MySpace. It culminated with me joining an avid community of individuals who wrote fanfiction based on the show (my stories I'm proud of can be found here, here, and here), and eventually I joined fansites like Office Tally and Northern Attack, spending hours on message boards discussing the kiss at the end of season two, or Michael proposing to Holly.
I didn't just find a show I liked in The Office, I kind of found an extended family. I found my niche. For me, The Office was never just a show. It was a dear, old friend I spent nine wonderful years with. When my sister was hospitalized to prevent her from self harming back during my junior year of high school, The Office helped me escape on countless evenings. The show saw me through my crushing college rejections at the end of senior year in 2008, and again in 2010 when I watched my Alzheimer's ridden grandmother deteriorate even further. When I stepped onto the campus of that conservative Baptist college I attended, hating everything and thinking no one would appreciate my "Stewart/Colbert '08" shirt, it was a guy standing in line for the cafeteria wearing a Dunder Mifflin shirt who gave me hope that maybe I wasn't alone in my comedic preferences.
When I started watching it for the first time at the age of 16, I can remember thinking that deep down, in that dark, private place I share with no one (except for the ten of you that read this blog) that I knew that what I wanted more than anything else was to write comedy for a living. I wanted to create something that meant as much to others as The Office meant to me. Something that could simultaneously make you laugh so hard that tears and urine freely exited your body and ameliorate, if only for a little while, the pain in your current situation. And now, seven years later, at the age of 23, that desire hasn't changed.
But what has changed is everything else; time doesn't stop just because you want it to. Everything must end, much to my increasing disappointment. Last year marked my graduation from college, and by the end of this summer, I'll officially have my diploma, thereby forcing me into the adult world. As The Office ends tonight, so too does the adolescent chapter in my life, and while I know I have a plethora of opportunities ahead of me, it doesn't make either ending any less bittersweet. But like Vonnegut, I've always enjoyed my grief with a good flatulence joke, or two.