This is going to sound sorta strange, but I feel like I’m living inside the final episode of a long-running sitcom.
For those who don’t quite understand that reference, travel back in time 34 years, when Happy Days wrapped after a nearly 11-year run. Now, when I was a kid Happy Days was the shows of shows. You had The Fonz, you had Richie, you had Potsie and Ralph and Mr. and Mrs. C and Joanie and Chachi and Big Al. It was this wacky, colorful, lovable collection of characters who—together—made my childhood a bit happier and more enriched.
Over time, though, the whole ensemble turned somewhat stale. Plot lines thinned out. Fonzie infamously jumped a shark and lost his cool. Arnold’s burned down. Richie left for the Army. Mork from Ork made a guest appearance. So, at long last, the thing had to end—and it did. The last episode of Happy Days aired on Sept. 24, 1984, and the concluding scene of the concluding show had Mr. Cunningham offer a toast at Joanie and Chachi’s wedding. His final line: “To happy days.”
I’m choked up just writing that.
Anyhow, as most readers probably know we moved to California four years ago, and this week we made our annual summer trip back to New Rochelle, N.Y., the place we called ours for 11 years. And it all just feels … surreal. My sister-in-law Leah is moving to New York City in a few months, making this our last time in her house. My nephew Jordan is graduating high school and heading off to NYU. My other nephew, Isaiah, graduated from middle school today and will attend high school in the city. My nephews’ longtime nanny, the amazing, like-a-family-member Luba, is taking a new job and her daughter, the equally amazing-and-like-a-family-member Nastia, is graduating high school and off to college.
Also, for the first time since we left, I’d say New Rochelle no longer feels like home. It’s weird. Close friends remain, dazzling memories remain. But it’s no longer ours. I feel more detached than before; more like it’s not my place. Businesses have turned over. People have moved. Kids who were little four years ago are now my height. This is hard to explain, but it’s almost as if we’ve moved on and New Rochelle has moved on.
Hence, the final episode of the final season.
We’re living it.
And, oddly, I feel a bit like crying.
PS: The wife says this needs to play during the final scene of The Pearlmans. I agree.