My sister and I have always bonded over the television sitcom Friends, even before she was born. One of my earliest memories is watching Friends with my mom, who was pregnant with my little sister at the time. We were sitting in the basement, the light near the bottom of the stairs was on but the rest of the darkened room was bathed in only a glow from the television.
It was The One Without the Ski Trip, the episode right after the explosive “We were on a BREAK!” argument. Being only three years old, I didn’t quite understand what was going on in the show, but I didn’t have to understand the story plot to laugh when Chandler began shouting and flailing around in the snow.
My mother and I found Chandler’s dancing to be side-splitting, non-stop giggling, face-hurting funny. The two of us were sitting on the floor, our backs against the couch and laughing uncontrollably, so much so, that my mom, between the laughter and her pregnant belly, could not pull herself up to sit on the couch – this of course made the two of us laugh even more.
After my sister was born, she joined our occasional Friends nights, even though both of us were too young to really understand much of the story plot. While movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and television shows like Teletubbies took the forefront of our entertainment choices, Friends was always somewhere in the background.
Then life got mean and my sister and I grew up pretty fast. By the time I was finishing elementary school, the two of us found it difficult to relate to most kids our own age. So my sister and I found ourselves most comfortable spending time with one another.
We spent most of our time in an imaginary world – a world we could control to be happy and care-free. Some of our make-believe games included pretending we were mothers bringing our baby dolls to Disney World (aka our backyard), pretending we were Santa’s elves (in the winter time), and pretending we were lifeguards-in-training (in the summer time).
In addition to make-believe games, we also escaped reality through television. Now, let’s get something straight: we took our television watching very seriously. If the television was on, 100% of our energy went towards the television. While we loved the shows on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, Friends was beginning to make its way to the forefront of our entertainment choices.
Then, one Christmas Eve, I received the entire box set of all ten seasons of Friends. On Christmas Day, after gifts were opened, church was attended and the family dinner was finished, my mother, sister and I piled on the couch and opened the precious box set.
We watched two discs, that’s the first twelve episodes, that night before my mom made us go to sleep. My sister and I were hooked.
In a small blue room, on a tiny, twin bed with a blue comforter rests a little seven inch DVD player playing a familiar theme song. A tiny, 10-pound puppy is curled up next to the pillows, sleeping. A bag of waffle pretzels and two Poland Spring water bottles sit on the nightstand. Two little girls wearing pajamas sit on the foot of bed, eyes glued to the tiny DVD player as a warm sense of familiarity floods through from the screen.