Watching HIMYM in kitchens with boys

I started watching How I Met Your Mother autumn semester of my junior year of college, while the show was in its eighth series – just one more before it ended. And I fell in love. I started watching it over my autumn break, sitting up in my parents’ family room, with my snoring yellow Lab at my feet. The clock would tick on – 1.00am, 2.00am, 2.30am – and I would power my way through just one more episode. This was before I had my own Netflix account, so I’d have to get my fix at home (side note: this is why I stopped watching Lost. I think I made it through 21 episodes of the first season one summer but then went back to school. By the time I could watch it again, I had completely forgotten what had happened and I didn’t feel like rewatching all 21 episodes). When I came home for winter break with a car full of stuff – I was leaving the country in January – I resumed my late night binges and managed to make it to series 5 by the time I arrived in Brighton.

Luckily, my flatmate was equally addicted to HIMYM but was far more caught up than I. He would leave me alone in my room to binge my way through two series before I could join him and our other housemate in the kitchen for their weekly episode. And we would sit up late at night, discussing how these 5 characters seamlessly represented us at different stages of our lives. He identified as the Ted at the time – the hopeless romantic desperately seeking a future and trying to push relationships from Point A to Point Z and bypassing the best parts. To this day, he is still the Ted to my Robin – at least, he was until that rubbish series finale in 2014 (an additional side note: I still love him oh so much, but not blue French horn level love). And I identified as Robin – jaded, cynical, tough exterior to crack but cracking that exterior would be worth it – I still identify with Robin to this day. He and I actually ended up predicting the series finale – which I’m still really angry about – but satisfied that we were right and saw the twist coming midway through series 8.

And that became the show I watched with my boys. How I Met Your Mother, Black Mirror, and Skins, but How I Met Your Mother was our cornerstone. When I returned to the states and when the final season aired, it was the three of us communicating via Whatsapp about every loose end that was resolved. And when the show ended, I didn’t revisit it. Until now.

And watching old episodes of HIMYM takes me back to a smoky kitchen with a tie-dyed tapestry on the wall. A kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink, that always felt cold no matter whether it was January or May, that always had empty vodka bottles and playing cards on the table. I can hear the crinkling of rolling papers as the boys rolled cigarettes that they would ash into an inch of water in an empty tin of Heinz Baked Beans. And I can still hear their voices discussing the latest episode, the incredible harmonies between Ted and Barney during “The Longest Time,” and when they thought that Ted would finally meet the mother. But mostly, watching the show again reminds me of a time in my life when happiness came to me easily, when I felt secure, and when I met my family. How I Met My Family. How I Met My Boys.

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