I think we all remember the night Marissa Cooper (Newport’s elite debutante and, more importantly, fictional The OC character) died. Maybe you shed tears, maybe you listened to Imogen Heap’s version of “Hallelujah” on repeat or perhaps you really poured salt on the wound and you opened up your season one playlist, filled with Death Cab, Jem and Phantom Planet, and you focused on the happier days. The happier days that could be no more.
We all can thank Josh Schwartz (OC creator) for throwing such a dark cloud over our The Summer Before Tenth Grade break.
Fictional though she may be, Marissa Cooper was a bit of a legend in the middle/high school rings. To young teenager viewers, her death seemed more than preventable. We could trace back her demise to a mutiny of wrong decisions and a series of left turns when really she should’ve been going right all along. Right into the arms of Ryan Atwood. Sadly, however, by the time she ended up in Ryan’s arms, she was dying.
As an avid viewer, I couldn’t help but wonder What if she had never met Oliver? Then Ryan never would’ve been reunited with Theresa. And then she never would’ve dated DJ. And what if she had never met Trey? And shot Trey? Then she never would’ve been kicked out of school. She never would’ve met Volcheck and he never would’ve introduced her to cocaine, and dear little Marissa Cooper would still be alive and well.
With all those questions in mind, and with Imogen Heap playing through my earbuds, 14-year-old me took to a laptop and typed out a script for a new episode. An episode that rewound her destruction and gave Marissa Cooper a happily ever after. At age 14, just like at age 5 and just like now at age 22, I’m a fighter for happy endings.
Unfortunately, floppy disks were never to be trusted, and my Oscar worthy script was one day lost, but I’m sure it was just as classic and grand as you could possibly imagine. Though the script and my love for The OC disappeared, the meaning this moment had in my life has been lasting.
I debuted as a director when I was about four years old as I constructed Barbie villages and instructed my friends on what their Barbie characters were to say and do. I whispered them lines and I was famous for saying, “No, no. Rewind and say this instead.” Truly, it’s quite surprising I had any friends.
In the second grade, I had my start as a writer (please note, I use that term very loosely). My peers and teachers titled the story “The Never Ending Franklin Story” and me “The Reading Machine.” That “Never Ending Story” led me to my first writing workshop. Though I remember nothing about that workshop, other than hating that I had to wear a nametag, I remember the excitement I felt when my teacher asked me to go.
In seventh grade, I developed the skill of learning how to end a story. For this Pulitzer Prize-worthy novella, all my characters were named in rhymes (Brian, Ryan; Justina, Brettina) and each sentence ended with an exclamation point. Did you know?! There is such a thing as being too enthusiastic!? Yeah, seventh grade me didn’t know either!
In ninth grade, I rediscovered my love for reading as I uncovered this book genre called young adult. I still consider the day I visited my local library to pick up 24 books to be one of the most embarrassing days of my life. Too small to carry them all, I had been forced to beckon to my mother to come help as the librarians stared on, kindly reminding me that they were all due in two weeks.
So, what’s the point of all this?
My freshman year of college, I thought there was no true point. I thought I was a kid who liked to read and a young adult who was majoring in marketing. It took some time (roughly two months at college) to realize that hobbies do not have to be just hobbies. Sometimes our hobbies are the way we bring to life our loves, talents and passions. Maybe our hobbies are simply called hobbies because we’ve been too afraid to title these pastimes “career.”
Everyone’s talking about how we’re entitled to a job after graduation. In a world where unemployment rates are high and the price of college education is higher, I don’t necessarily believe this to be true. We’re no more entitled to a job than the person who has been fighting to find a job for years or the person who was recently laid off or the person who stayed home with their kids and who is now merging back into the market. Just because we’ve spent approximately one trillion dollars on tuition doesn’t make us entitled to a job; it just makes a little poorer than we were four years ago, with the hopes that we’re a little richer in knowledge.
Attending college is a privilege, and as privileged college students, I don’t think the world owes us anything after graduation. I do, however, think we owe ourselves something. We owe it to ourselves to at least remember the goals we had as children. I am not entitled to a job, but I am entitled to the dreams that were laid out by a little girl who liked to write and play through nap-time. Those are mine, and I have a right to want to write my own Franklins and Marissa Coopers, and in a world desperate for more paychecks to be signed, that has to be worth something.