Okay, so I’m one episode away from finishing 13 Reasons Why. It’s been an interesting program for all the reasons I’ve said before, but I have to say these kids experienced an unusually melodramatic stage of life – a suicide, a traffic accident death, and 2 rapes, amid all the other bits and bobs is a tad over the top. And even accounting for teenage angst and confusion many of the pivotal decisions the show revolves around would be pretty unlikely in real life I reckon.
Still, it’s been pretty gripping, and you just want to get to the end to see how it unfolds. I have to say I find Clay pretty heroic. He really is a good kid, sensitive and gentle, but possessed of a fierce determination. There are times maybe he should have been more circumspect, or reflected more, or just been more patient, but what it boils down to is that he can’t let things go either.
You feel for him. If it was real you would know that this kid would be haunted his lifelong by what might have been. Revealed to him were the possibilities that he so yearned for while Hannah was yet alive, but too late now to make any difference now that she is not. Compounding that is the knowledge that things might so easily have been different, including if he had acted differently or made different choices. The consequences played out, and in hindsight it’s plain to see.
Knowing that his path towards redemption – and justice – is to do for Hannah in death what was denied to her in life. He is a kid with a mighty heart.
As I watch I find there are more and more things that part way from my experience of that age, but a lot of that is dramatic licence. My schooldays were never as dramatic as that, and certainly – to my knowledge – there were no conspiracies.
There are other moments that go straight to the heart of me though. Watching Clay connect with Hannah intimately for the first time recalled moments long buried in me. Not moments really, but a feeling. How fresh and wonderful it is to look across the room and meet the eyes of the woman you adore – and who you think may adore you also. There are entire worlds in that moment. Everything pauses. Before you myriad possible futures unfold, including the fantasy hope of living happily ever after with this woman. In that moment it is pure still, and still entirely possible. Nothing has been spoiled. It exists in and by itself. And it fills you entirely, like something wondrous that inflates in your chest. You linger knowing it, knowing the woman across the way is feeling the same. Then the world starts up again. You step forward. You take hold of destiny.
It’s not that I had forgotten that I had ever experienced such things, rather it had slipped between the cracks of my mind. I experienced it then, at school, when it is lent a naïve, innocent quality. Later I am not as innocent, but what I feel in its way remains just that. It’s natural. It springs from a part of you untainted by experience. It takes you by surprise and takes you away.
You live in a spell. Now I recall those occasions, not numerous, but occasional, when after that initial moment when I have spent hours with that person special in my heart. You gaze into their eyes. The words come easy, and with a smile. You feel so gentle, so rich with benevolence. You yearn in a way that makes you close your eyes and allow yourself to be carried away by it, as if by a dream. At the same time, you wonder at it. This is happening. I am here. She loves me. I love her. At some point, it must progress to another stage. You know that. Somewhere ahead of you is reality, a time you must part, a day that must come, a plane of existence that must be returned to. Not yet, you think, not yet, hoping all the time that you can return to this again.
That was always the problematic aspect for me. There were numerous times when that sense was recycled and reproduced for months. But other times when reality revealed the complexity of the situation I was in. More than my fair share I’ve become involved with complex women, or women in complex situations – by that, mostly, meaning with another man in the background. That’s the subject of a post I’ll probably never write. In the end, reality always wins.
For Clay, this fictional character, his reality once this show ends is to endure the knowledge of what might have been, and remembrance of those precious, innocent moments of intimacy now forever in the past – unless, of course, the writers choose a different destiny for him.