When I was fifteen, I fell in love.
I was at a sleepover, and we were flipping through channels on TV (because what else are you going to do at a sleepover?) and we came across a show that was extremely poorly lit, this particular episode about a lady who was blind but could see through the eyes of a murderer doing his dirty deeds, and these two FBI agents were trying to help her/ catch the killer, and the guy agent seemed very sure about all this crazy stuff that was happening even though it was crazy and his lady partner helped him see it through even though you could tell a lot of the time she had trouble believing him and he annoyingly kept running off just expecting her to know where he was going. And it was only on for like ten minutes, because we were fifteen and we had the attention spans of… well, a bunch of fifteen year old girls. But, for whatever reason, that weird, dark (and by dark I mean content-wise, and also it was really fucking dark all the time,) melancholy show struck me deep in my heart, sang to my little teenage soul, welcoming me home.
Who knows why we fall in love with the things that we do? From that very first time I saw it, The X-Files felt like a code embedded in my DNA; it felt familiar, it felt mine. At fifteen, I couldn’t understand the bleakness of Mulder and Scully’s lives, the intricacies of the global conspiracies they were battling (later of course I learned that was because they did not actually make any sense,) or the complicated nuances of their love for each other, but it didn’t matter. In The X-Files, I connected on a primal, essential level to the human need for storytelling. It truly is one of the rare and real bits of genuine magic in a lifetime, when characters become real for you, when their suffering becomes your suffering and their joy, yours too. Mulder and Scully felt like real people to me, they still feel real, in a way, like compatriots from long ago, having seen me through all of the ups and downs of my young adulthood, guns drawn, flashlights in hand.
They let me down sometimes, as friends do. As the series wore on, and Mulder left, and it seemed as though even the writers had given up on it, I was still there on the couch, every Sunday night, suffering through that weird Brady Bunch episode, cringing every time Doggett said “MUL-dah;” that’s what love is about. I even loved the second movie, and don’t even think about giving me any shit about that; you don’t just bail on your friends when they get a little morose and self-pitying. That’s all part of the beauty of finding a story that speaks to you; even in its shittier moments what it means to you, what you have found within it, is what matters. All those years peering into dark corners, rummaging through secret files, wire-tapping phones, while Mulder and Scully looked for the truth, I found myself.
So here’s what I have to say to you, kiddos. When grownups tell you it’s not good to watch too much TV, that what you’re watching is garbage, that it isn’t as good as reading a book: don’t listen. Go ahead; dive in. Find a story that speaks to you. Get invested. Fall in love.
The truth is out there.