College hunting means lots of hotels. Hotels, at least in my family, means our rare bout of access to cable TV with all the channels.
And for my household, full access means a marathon of HGTV.
I will admit that there has been an exponential spike in my interest in residential real estate and the current market costs of secluded Colorado log cabins. I will admit that I get a primal feeling of joy when, through hard work and pure genius, that junky fixer-upper is transformed into vaulted ceilings and granite kitchens. Yet I am far more unlikely to admit that the stories that I fall in love with each episode are pretty manufactured.
The last minute design ideas? Probably not so last minute, and perhaps tacked on for special effect. Antique decor shopping sprees with the family? Probably mostly for show, and possibly for promotion. Quick decisions on housing purchases? Probably took hours, even days or weeks behind the scenes. The forces behind the show, just like on any reality show, are trimming and sewing together a story for their viewers. Me, I think it’s gold. But it also started resonating with me and my life.
I have to choose a college. It’s a four year investment that, at some schools, will end up costing more than a modest house. And since I’m lucky enough to have a choice, it’s a deliberation that I don’t even know how to approach. It’s not so different than the TV couples picking a place to live and invest in from a list that doesn’t seem to contain no-brainer, checks-all-boxes option. Compromise needs to be made–on budget, or on desires. And somehow…after conversing on-screen for perhaps 90 seconds or so, they pleasantly and firmly land on a decision so that the show and plot can get merrily on its way.
I suppose I’ve learned two things from this feat of movie magic: that decisions are both more and less complicated than I think they are. The deliberations that I see on screen are manufactured and stitched together. Moreover, the one sentence (emoji-filled) Facebook posts that flood high school seniors’ feeds of who-has-decided-to-attend-where is often a longer and more uncertain process than it appears in the end. But on the other hand? Decisions have an ending. The deliberation that started over a year ago and has dragged on until now is reaching a close. Like every couple and client that has ever been on HGTV, I will make my decision and move forward to that happy ending. I will make my loud and colorful Facebook post. I will be lucky enough to go to a school that I find fascinating and really exciting, no matter where I end up. The TV couples are faster, but both of us will reach a conclusion. Both the couples and I will be happy.
Here’s to tough choices and good television. To my peers scrambling towards May 1st, and to all readers with some sort of decision on their hands, to all I wish wisdom, insight, and happy endings <3.