We have become a bit obsessed, my husband and I, with watching back-to-back-to-back episodes of the TV show Friday Night Lights. Set in a small Texas town, the story centers on the trials and tribulations of the town’s high school football coach, the players, and their friends and families. My husband, Tim, is drawn to the “consistency” of Coach Eric Taylor. I love Tami, his wife, a woman who is never afraid to speak the truth.
But I have to say it is Tyra Collette, a beautiful young rule-breaker, with whom I am most captivated. As she looks to graduate and break free of the generational strongholds that bind her, I cheer her on like a fan in the stands at a Dillion High School football game.
Late last night Tim and I made it to the end of Season 3, graduation approaching for many of the primary Friday Night Lights characters. Tyra had struggled mightily, not only with creating the possibility of college, but also with her application essay. As she read it aloud to her friend, Landry, tears began to stream down my cheeks as if I were there in that room with her:
Two years ago, I was afraid of wanting anything. I figured wanting would lead to trying and trying would lead to failure. But now I find I can’t stop wanting.
I want to fly somewhere first class.
I want to travel to Europe on a business trip.
I want to get invited to the White House.
I want to learn about the world.
I want to surprise myself.
I want to be important.
I want to be the best person I can be.
I want to define myself instead of having others define me.
I want to win and have people be happy for me.
I want to lose and get over it.
I want to not be afraid of the unknown.
I want to grow up and be generous and big hearted, the way people have been with me.
I want an interesting and surprising life.
It’s not that I think I’m going to get all these things, I just want the possibility of getting them.
College represents possibility. The possibility that things are going to change.
I can’t wait.
How I admire that girl for seeing beyond the walls around her, for wanting an interesting and surprising life, for pushing hard to get it. How lucky I was to not face those same challenges at 18 years old. As far back as I can remember, my parents gave me that greatest of gifts: You can do anything.
Now I am 53 years old—a reality that shocks me as if I hadn’t seen my late October birthday coming. I am so grateful to have lived this interesting and surprising life. But so much more is ahead.
I want to write a book.
I want to sell a painting.
I want to go to Africa, and Alaska, and Spain.
I want to learn to meditate.
I want to re-learn the oboe.
I want to grow corn.
I want to be good at roses.
I want to make it back to the mountains.
I can’t wait.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Tyra’s College Essay
This is one of those moments that make me sure in my belief that FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is the single best television series I have ever seen. I know others have their favorites, but for me this is it.
A little background for those of you who don’t watch the show, but are considering it. Tyra Collete, the narrator, has had a tough life. She’s a beautiful girl who until about two years ago thought that her looks were her only ticket to something more. Her well meaning mother never gave her daughter hope she could be more than she was. Her sister, a stripper, represented everything Tyra didn’t want out of life. But thhen she had people come into her life that believed in her and she started to believe in herself. Tyra’s past mistakes put college at arms length. She was determined to make it happen despite the odds. Everything was riding on the all important college essay. After many failed attempts, her best friend Landry urged to dig deeper and speak from the heart…this was the result.