"It's the oldest story in the world. One day you're seventeen and planning for someday, and then quietly, and without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” -Nathan Scott, 9x13
We had been dreading this day for years, and, as time is sometimes cruel, this day finally arrived. The One Tree Hill series finale. After nine years, nine seasons, and 187 episodes, my best friend Krys and I just weren't ready to say goodbye.
A lot of people don't understand why One Tree Hill fans are the way we are. We are fiercely loyal, emotionally invested, and wonderfully in love with the show and its characters. The characters who taught us the meaning of strength, of friendship, of love. Against all odds, One Tree Hill outlasted most teen drama series--including the once crazy-popular The O.C.. No, we didn't have flashy gimmicks, numerous magazine covers, or short-lived marriages to the prince of Monaco. No, there was never a need for those things. We were the quiet survivors, the quiet dreamers.
If there was one thing that made One Tree Hill so special, it was that the show about two half-brothers was full of heart; both inside and outside of the show. Nathan, Lucas, Brooke, Haley, Peyton--the jocks, the cheerleaders, the girl-next-door--each of these characters could've been your stereotypical high school kids television loves to portray, but they weren't. They had depth.
Nathan, the once selfish bad boy basketball star, became someone who never failed to put his family first. Over the course of nine seasons, we watched him become a man, a husband, a father. He taught me that I have a choice. No matter the circumstance, no matter how hard the world pushes, you can always push back. You can be who you want to be. You can choose to be good.
Brooke, captain cheerleader, proved that she was more than just a pretty face. Despite her many insecurities, heartbreaks, and absentee parents, she became class president, the creator of two successful clothing lines, and a loving mother. All this without forgetting (or being ashamed of) who she was and who she used to be. She taught me how to be confident; that there is always love and strength behind those walls we put up around us in hopes of feeling less vulnerable. That we never have to conform to labels. That friendship is of utmost importance. She was brave, but more importantly, she was an incredible friend.
Haley, the wise best friend, the girl-next-door, had a heart for others. She never needed approval from the popular kids and was never afraid to try something different. She brought Nathan and Lucas's worlds together because she always saw and believed the good in people. Haley taught me that all we have is our values, our faith, and our integrity. She taught me to forgive, and that everyone deserves a second chance.
Each episode helped develop their characters, and it was a real delight to have been able to watch them grow, and to grow with them throughout the years. One Tree Hill gives me hope--that even though the world tells you that it's normal to have marriages that last a month, that being manipulative is the only way to success, that you're not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough... it's not true. Love can go the distance. Nathan and Haley made it through hell and back when she left him to go on tour with Chris Keller. Lucas and Peyton, after years of obstacles, found their way together in the end. Long-term relationships don't have to grow stale or boring. Nathan and Haley were together throughout the entire nine season run. And we never got bored. They were so in love, and we were in love them. Their relationship was not without trials, wrongdoings, and heartache, but they were each other's forever and always. Everyone wants something steady in their lives, and it's okay to want steady. It's possible to weather the storms. You are more than good enough, smart enough, pretty enough. You matter. Despite the setbacks and lack of confidence, Peyton founded Tric and Red Bedroom Records. Lucas had to give up basketball, but became a best-selling author. Nathan became paralysed, but managed to walk, and even play basketball, again. Brooke lost her company, but founded another. Even Dan, who was hated and shunned by his family, found redemption. There is always hope. You matter.
Despite all this, though, One Tree Hill reminds us that success does not define us; it is secondary. The relationship we have with God, with our partners, with our best friends... those are the most important things to have.
"Human beings are ambitious. We spend so much time wanting, pursuing, wishing. For the most part, that's okay. Ambition is good. Chasing things with integrity is good. Dreaming. As long as the chase doesn't diminish what we already have. The goodness we take for granted, the people we take for granted, the lives we take for granted. My life... is good." -Haley James Scott, 9x13
So, thank you, One Tree Hill, for daring to be different. For being so real and so relatable. For the characters we could laugh with, cry with, fall in love with, and get furious at. For the Cracker Jack bracelets, kisses in the rain, true love, cat fights, psycho stalkers, concerts, benefits, Karen's Cafe, the River Court, Tree Hill High School, Tric, Clothes Over Bros, the Ravens, the inspirational stories, the sometimes awful and cracked-up story lines, and the precious memories you've given me and my best friends. For the real life music tours and charity events held for the fans and, more importantly, to help people in need. For inspiring me to fall deeper in love with literature, cheerleading, and music. The music, oh gosh, the music. Thank you for introducing me to so many bands; for Jimmy Eat World, Jack's Mannequin, Gavin DeGraw; for every song that captured each emotion and moment in the series and in my life magically.
And finally, thank you, Mark Schwan, for your creation and dedication. No other show has ever been so kind and dearly appreciative of its fans as One Tree Hill has been. We took care of each other, and, as Joy (Haley) once said, we also raised each other.
"In you're life you're going to go to some great places and you're going to do some wonderful things. But no matter where you go, or who you become, this place will always be with you. There is only one Tree Hill. And it's your home." -Karen Roe, 1x22
Good night, One Tree Hill.