It's summer, 1987. Mom is sorting laundry while simultaneously making PB&J for the kids. 'Hurry up,' she says, giving us plates to take with us to the living room. 'It's starting in three minutes.' This is before the days of TiVo, before reality TV and networks devoted to 24 consecutive hours of sensationalized news. We sit cross-legged in our normal spots, humming the opening credits by heart.
Most women in their thirties have a soap, and mine is All My Children.
I didn't understand it then, the power of the soap opera. Back then it was a way to pass the long summer hours when we weren't at the pool. Soaps were for made for stay-at-home-moms and their bored children, a way for us to leave our reality for an hour a day for one in which people never worked, always wore full make-up, and aged overnight. You knew, if there was a scene in a car, that car was going to crash. You knew, if there was a wedding, someone was going to barge through the doors just as the priest said, 'speak now or forever hold your peace', and it was likely that person might have been presumed dead. Fridays were the cliffhangers. No one died on Wednesdays. And every scene would end with a passionate, closed-mouth kiss.
I will admit that I haven't watched a soap, even AMC, since the early courtship of Tad and Dixie. My memories, like many of my olden days, are rose-colored and fragmented. There have been times that I've caught a couple of scenes on the treadmill in the past few years and been astonished by the ridiculous plot lines and questionable acting. But despite that, I was sad to realize that today was the last day for All My Children. Anna won't have memories of watching the show on a hot summer afternoon with me, laughing at the story and crying at the funerals. She'll never understand that, in the land of Pine Valley, people have forgotten twins and face transplants. She'll have to learn about multiple personalities some other way, and that is a shame.
I traded a few text messages with my sister, a devout AMC follower for years, this morning. I confirmed with her that this was indeed the end for Erica Kane et al, and asked her if she needed some support to get through the day. We laughed, and then began to share our memories of AMC as children.
'Remember watching with Gra-Gra?'
'Yes, while eating Mrs. Grass Noodle Soup?'
'Yes! And eating her rock-hard cookies.'
'Playing Crazy Eights!'
'Steal the Pack!'
And it was at that moment that I set my TiVo to record the last episode. It's not about seeing how the writers will wrap up a forty year story line, or whether or not Josh Duhamel will come back for a guest appearance (please). It's about taking a little bit of time to savor the memories. And a woman in her thirties passes them on: