I started watching ATLA at the age of 9- it was hit or miss with episodes; if I didn't get to see a new one, that was fine. I didn't really care back then. I was busy with school and didn't have time for a TV show. I have a weird memory because of missing some episodes. I can't remember which ones I haven't seen. It drives me crazy.
I sort of strayed from Avatar when I was 10. I just lost interest.
Then, when I was 11, life turned bad. I lost 3 close family members in 2007. My mother got breast cancer and my grandmother got ovarian cancer. My parents talked of divorcing, I turned 12, got braces, and started middle school. The summer of 07 I was looking for a way out. I got depressed because of all the pain my family was going through. I fell straight into Avatar's arms.
I started watching all of the S2 eps I missed. I think they were still showing the reruns on the TV. I slowly pieced together my Avatar knowledge while my family pieced back our life. I became very involved in the community- ASN, DH, Deviantart, forums, oekakis, and recently lj. I became engrossed with Avatar and the fandom. I started drawing and writing and talking to people who didn't judge my by my looks or family life. They knew me for my mind. I was so happy: I FINALLY FIT IN. I could debate about ships and squee over spoilers and was not called weird. It was nice.
Zutara became my OTP. I LOVED it. I drew it, I read it, I wrote about it, I talked about it.... the majority of what I did online was Zutara. I made so many wonderful friends because of it, and discovered so many things online because of it. The Zutara fandom was amazing. All the talented writers and artists made my life happier.
I fell in love with Avatar and I fell hard. I cried because of a missed episode. I got home from school and immediatley went to ASN to check news and messages. I updated my dA journal, checked all my fav fanfics for updates, and went through all my communities. I was obsessed, but happy. I now had something to look forward to besides the next funeral.
I grew up with the charcters. They had troubles too; and to my 10 year old self, they were exactly like me. I went on journeys with them, did EVERYTHING with them. They were like my imaginary friends. I fell in love with the music, the beautiful scenery and animation, the charcters, the complex storyline, the villians, the voice acting... it was perfect. I don't think I can ever love a show like I loved this one. It took my heart and kept it prisoner. There aren't words to descripe the epic show that is Avatar.
I think of the journey I've made- watching the charcters grow strong while becoming stronger myself. I changed inside. I am different because of Avatar. I am more careful and more respecting of our world. I have new respect for others- my mind is more open. I drink a lot more tea. ATLA inspired me to think more about deeper topics- what love is; what trust is; what holds us together. About friendship and caring and adventure. About risking your life- risking everything- for something you love.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better, but, because I knew you.... I have been changed for good.
I cry to see it over. It hurts my heart and I sobbed last night- thinking how this huge part of my life was coming to an end. I cried for my ship. I cried for us all- how we weren't going to see these amazing characters again. I would never know if Zuko found his mom. I would never see the Avatar world in complete peace. I wouldn't have Katara's healing words or Zuko's transformation or Iroh or Sokka's humor or Toph or Momo and Appa or Aang. Seeing Zuko's complete transformation to a wonderful Fire Lord made me so very happy... but I was so very sad last night.
If I could do one thing different I would have liked to come to the fandom at an older age. You can't do a lot when your 12 and can barley draw or write. I wished I could have been there for the whole three seasons, not just the last two.
To Avatar. I love thee. You have changed my life.
Praise be St. Jun.
I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those
Who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...
For Good- Wicked