Wednesday, 24 October 2012
By Tom Zuniga
A dear friend has been powering through one of my all-time favorite shows, Friday Night Lights. How fitting that this incredible show serves as inspiration for this post.
I’ve been back in southern California for nearly three weeks, and I’ve experienced quite the gamut of emotions in that span.
Loneliness, despair? Check, check.
Hope, frustration, peace, utter uncertainty? Quadruple check.
My third year in California has started like a bizarre spin-off series from the original story that was my first two years here. I’m living in an entirely new getup amid a vastly different mountain-laden landscape, set to start a new tutoring job this week, surrounded by sets of new characters all over.
Many days, I honestly do feel like Joey Tribbiani, departing from his original “friends” for a new life in a new place with new friends. In many ways this “spin-off sensation” feels inherently wrong.
But I consider my third year in California less like the failure of Joey and more like a dramatic seasonal shift in Friday Night Lights.
I won’t spoil this particular storyline shift for any Friday Night Lights virgins, but the move from season three to season four was bold. Really bold.
I was afraid. Afraid for the show’s course, sure, but honestly, I was more afraid for these precious characters I’d come to adore after three seasons. Entering season four, the Taylors were suddenly saddled with drastic change. They’d still be living in good ole Dillon, Texas, just as I’m still living in the Los Angeles area.
But it’d be different. So different. New characters, new challenges. New everything, despite living in the “same” place.
This Friday Night Lights kind of change is how I feel about my new but same but totally different life here.
I still have my incredible church. Still connect with my awesome life group each week. But even the church itself has changed somewhat. A new pastor, new leadership, and many new faces since I last attended here in May.
I start a new job this week, and despite the sameness of tutoring struggling students, the location of and interaction with said students will indeed be different.
In just three weeks, I’ve faced entirely new challenges in this familiar place. The breakdown of my car and my spirits, the burden of living somewhat farther than I’d prefer from civilization and of living in a not completely ideal situation, and already the weighty task of determining summer plans and beyond.
Am I meant to plant roots here for years to come? Or is God calling this Traveling Golden Trout to wander onward from here after May?
Am I meant to return to the same summer camp job that tried me and grew me, or will a new job, a new location beckon my name this summer?
I certainly don’t want to peer so far into the future that I completely neglect my present. But I’m watching summer deadlines and doing all I can to plan for the future despite my uncertain present.
I honestly have no idea where my story will turn next. When this past summer ended, I knew I had to return to southern California. To finish what I’d started there. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of starting over elsewhere, leaving countless plotlines opened and incomplete out West.
Whether the “finishing” to my start takes only a year or several more remains to be seen. But I’m taking hope.
Taking hope that if the Taylors survived the drastic changes and challenges of Friday Night Lights, I too can survive and thrive amid my own changes and challenges back in California.
And of course, not to have my storyline canceled after one mere season like poor Joey.
Ever undergo a dramatic change living in the same location? How did you adapt, and how did you grow? And for Friday Night Lights lovers, wasn’t season four ultimately your favorite like it was mine???