Usually when we say "I remember where I was when..." it's a reference to a historically important event. I could never compare something like an episode of a television show to an event like that, but I can't deny that I have strong, vivid, emotional memories of media that has touched me on a deep level. Many of those memories are about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of BtVS's final episode, "Chosen." I still remember exactly where I was and how it felt to watch that episode. I was in college, the end of my junior year. I had just acquired a single room because the person I shared my previous double with had moved back home, and a room miraculously opened up in the hall adjacent to my previous one. I watched the episode sitting in my desk chair, and I bawled my eyes out the entire time. Especially towards the end. The part where Buffy talks about sharing her power with girls all over the world is usually what gets me the worst. And, confession: I still cry every single time I watch that episode.
It may sound silly to care so much about a fictional character on a television show. I know there are people in this world who don't put much stock in fantastical worlds, and find it a waste of time and energy to be a dedicated fan of a drama like this. I hope someday they experience what it is to have overwhelming passion for something that makes them feel silly and ridiculous and insane. It's a strange and wonderful thing, and maybe then they'll understand. It is silly, and it's awesome.
Side note, this is why going to conventions of all types feels like "home" to me. Those people get it. They know what it's like to feel the way I do, maybe not about Buffy specifically, but about something that would seem silly to anybody who didn't know that kind of love.
I also have a vivid memory of the first episode of the show, as well as the commercials for it, believe it or not. They had that much of an impact on me. I was a very lonely teenager at the time that Buffy premiered. I liked a lot of weird things, I was really quiet, really smart, read a lot, and had a really hard time talking to people and making friends. Not a whole lot has changed in the past 15 years: I still like weird things, I'm a little less quiet, not as smart (Ha!), my job now is to read a lot, and I'm still very awkward with people unless I'm very close with them.
Then Buffy happened. It struck me even then, because there wasn't a show like that anywhere on TV. It was about kids my age dealing with vampires, magic, all sorts of supernatural creatures, myth and legend, and doing so while hanging out in the school library under the guidance of a British librarian-who-wasn't-really. Like I said about the conventions... it felt like home. Somebody else must have thought this was cool if they were putting it on TV, and that astonished me.
Buffy became a worldwide phenomenon, and feels like it's only gained fans since ending. The momentum is still there, especially because of the series continuing in comic form. It still shocks me when I discover other fans, because it felt like something so private and personal when I was watching it for those seven years. I forget that there were thousands of other people doing the exact same thing.
So on this occasion, and since I haven't said so in as many words in a public place yet: Thank you everyone that was involved in that show. You gave me somewhere to belong when I needed it the most, helped me learn more about myself than almost anything else in my life, and planted seeds within me that have made me who I am today. It's silly and amazing and crazy, but it means more than you'll ever know.