Dear Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
Let me start by introducing myself to you. My name is Xian, and I’ve been a loyal fan since ’97 when I accidentally dozed off one night in front of the TV and woke up to Moloch’s terrifying visage. Today, I’m the Co-Admin of SlayAlive, a fan forum dedicated to the works of your creator, Joss. (Let’s just pretend we’re on a first-name basis here.) But, I digress…
Ever since that episode, you became an unofficial mentor in life. Honestly, it was through Moloch that I learned about a whole new world of “stranger danger,” and I’m sure my parents are very appreciative of the lesson that they weren’t even aware of back then. So, you probably saved my life at some point. But, that’s just what you do, right?
Growing up in Malaysia, I was the only out gay kid in my school. Unsurprisingly, you were there for me in that moment, too. That queer-coded moment between Buffy and Joyce in “Becoming: Pt. 2" gave me the courage to be myself with others. I was 14 years old when I stopped trying “not to be a Slayer.”
Don’t get me wrong: I’m most definitely a Willow with a slice of Giles. (I’m a bloody Biology professor for crying out loud!) I’ve always connected to late-bloomer Willow, spurty knowledge Willow, and - unbeknownst to me then - my interpersonal relationships would take a college-Willow turn, too. I like to think that perhaps my 20-year-old self coped okay with that drama, because I had already lived through it 5 years prior. Thanks, Wil!
Speaking of which, the growing-up seasons… thank you for being the older (maybe not necessarily wiser) sibling. While naivete may have made me want to ask you to lie to me about the hardships ahead, you never did. Loss of love, mortality, addiction, emotional and physical abuse, depression, paying bills, and the all-important trash day schedule… you were unflinching in your honesty. I may not have gone through all of that, but the empathy I learned from you helped me to be a better friend and, today, perhaps a better mentor to my students. None of us are done baking yet, but you put forth a great recipe.
Above all, you showed me that family (both given and earned) prevails over hardships. That even what seems like the apocalypse (I’m looking at you, grad school!) could be subverted as long as you had a can-do attitude, some semblance of a plan, the support of your Scoobies, and - always, always - the right outfit and weapons. (Usually wit, but a well-timed Cordelia eye can turn the tides, too.)
Because you shared your power, we’re Slayers. Every one of us.