The finale of Longmire had ended only mere seconds before the emptiness set in. The majority of my evenings and weekends over the last month. A hollow gnawing ate at my gut. I stared at the floor. I looked to my wife. I stared at the floor once again.
"Now what?" I turned off the TV and stared at its blank screen.
"Wanna start something else?" she asked. "There's that one show about the drug-dealing chemistry teacher you keep saying you're going to start, but never do."
"Too soon," I say. "Too soon. I need some time."
And, that's how it is with a binge. You pick a show. You determine quickly whether or not this is something long term and, if it is, you invest. Then, suddenly, it ends. Oh, you know the end is coming and you tell yourself you'll be fine with it, but it's lie. It hurts. A hole forms in you where that show used to be.
It's like using a dating app. Although, as someone who's been married for 28 years, I'm only imagining what it must be like to use a dating app based on what people share on social media because that's the only way we learn anything about anyone.
You decide you need something to watch. You spend too much time swiping through options on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. You think back on the show you just finished. Do I want another show like that one? Or, do I want to break from my routine? You take suggestions from friends and you worry that if you don't like what they like they'll be upset with you. Well, you didn't really give it a chance, they'll say. Did you watch the first three episodes like I suggested? It's a slow burn, but once it warms up, you'll love it.
Maybe you don't want a slow burn this time. Maybe you want something to sweep you away in an instant before you really know what's hit you. Sure, a deep, brooding drama is usually your thing, but sometimes you just need to laugh. But, can you commit to something long-term just for laughs? You judge based on images and brief descriptions.
I don't like that poster image.
That sounds like a dumb premise.
What is she wearing in this?
A Canadian thriller? That's a thing?
Oh, look. Another self-destructive, sarcastic cop on the edge. I've been down that road too many times. You can't fix them.
This is how it goes. You've just ended an intense relationship and now you have to decide whether to leap into another one or just take some time for yourself. Read a book. Just be with friends. Enjoy your pets. Go back to school.
Then, it happens. Without warning. You're not even really looking. You just turn on the TV and something catches your eye and you think, I wanna know more about this. Next thing you know it's three weeks later and you're emotionally spent and empty once more because another binge has ended and the cycle repeats itself. You are alone with your options.
I could paint my kitchen, you tell youself.
I could take gardening or a cooking class.
I learn to handcraft wooden jigsaw puzzles and sell them on Etsy or something.
Wait. What was that person at work recommending the other day? A space show. I like space shows. They're comfortable.
Jigsaw puzzles it is.