in celebration of the small things {or, what jim & pam taught me about love}

i’ve never been a big t.v. watcher, but one show that i instantly fell head-over-heels for and still adore to this day is the office. from jim’s goofy grin to pam’s adorable cardigan collection to michael’s horribly hilarious one-liners, i felt an instant kinship to the small, scranton-based paper company. i watched the show religiously each and every season and have re-watched it (several times) since then.

there’s so much that i love about the office, but if i had to choose one thing that’s always stood out for me, it’d be the romance between jim and pam. as soon as i saw them interacting on screen, i just knew they’d end up being an item at some point. i mean, they simply had to. it was fate. destiny. written in the stars. however you want to put it, there’s no denying they just belong together; it was blindingly obvious.

as i watched their on-screen romance bloom, i found myself often longing for a jim-and-pam-type-of-relationship of my own. i wanted a best friend–someone who would make me laugh, who would talk out the hard times with me and offer advice and support when i needed it. i wanted a soul mate–someone who could have anyone he wanted but always somehow found his way back to me. i wanted the jim to my pam; i think many of us single, twenty-somethings did, if we’re being honest. and the crazy thing is, as i watched the beesly-halpert storyline unfold, a jim of my own didn’t seem like such a crazy idea anymore. all i wanted was a nice, old-fashioned good guy (“those still exist, right?”) i mean, i just wanted someone smart, funny, kind, handsome. couldn’t be that hard…could it?

well, for a while, it seemed more than hard; impossible is more like it. i ended up dating an awful lot of roys, guys who weren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves–but never seemed to look at me the way jim looked at pam, with that twinkle in his eye, that spark that told us he was absolutely crazy about her and that was never going to change.

(and then i met kyle. and without spilling our love story all over this proverbial page, let me just say that he’s without a doubt the jim to my pam, the cheese to my macaroni, the peanut to my buttah, the best to my friend. and i’m head over heels for him.

**cue the mushy-gushy “awwwww”s.**

alright, that’s enough of that. i mean, nothing wrong with mushy-gushy–but this isn’t about him, or me, or us.)

it’s about…well, love. real love. love that‘s sometimes hard and sloppy and uncomfortable. love that’s a choice. love that’s brave enough to start a conversation that matters and selfless enough to put someone else’s wants before your own. it’s the kind of love that jim and pam taught me about–and the kind of love that i’ve been lucky enough to find.

they never were a hallmark romance, and as someone who abhors pomp and circumstance, i always admired that about them. it made them real. relatable. i also appreciated that their story was never characterized by the stereotypical on-screen romance storyline–bickering, infidelity, fear of commitment, reservations about the other,  etc. rather, from the get-go, their relationship was all about the small things:: stolen glances from across the room. air high-fives. hand-holding. breaks in the lunch room. moral support. unrelenting kindness. encouraging the other to follow her dreams. inside jokes. a certain dedication to keeping their private lives just that–private. these sweet, small moments were building blocks in their story. jim and pam’s romance wasn’t ever really this wild, torrid love affair; rather, it was about sharing and doing life with each other, one day–one moment–at a time. maybe it’s not always glamorous. but it’s true. and don’t we all prefer something that’s made to endure, to last a lifetime?

one of my favorite jim and pam moments occurs during season 5, when she’s gone off to new york for art school, leaving jim back in scranton. whether it’s the distance or stress of school/work, the two are undoubtedly having an “off” day. as someone who knows that consistent and effective communication is absolutely essential to a good relationship, the episode is almost painful to watch. jim calls pam but finds he’s catching her at a bad time and, furthermore, having difficulty connecting to her stories about NY while he’s a state away. it‘s frustrating. but here’s the thing: we’ve all been there. we’ve all had those days with our family and friends, our significant others, sometimes even our co-workers. days when you want to share and talk and hear and be heard, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. on days like those, it’s tempting to get frustrated and upset, to let your emotions get the best of you.

but jim and pam refuse to go there, and that’s what i absolutely love about this moment between them. they acknowledge the communication breakdown, chalk it up to an “off” day–and then they keep going, keep working at it, keep digging in their heels. at the end of the episode, they call each other at the exact same time, leading to the two of them getting one another’s voicemails, leaving each other adorably similar messages. i’ve always adored that ending scene because of its rawness, its realness, how close it hits to home. it shows me that even on our bad days, even when the ones we care about feel far away (whether literally or metaphorically), love is still what binds us. we’re still connected, deeply, even if it’s a mysterious, under-the-surface link. no off day can take that from us.

that right there is life, folks; that right there is love. and that right there is worth celebrating–both on-screen and off.

cheers.

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