In the fourth season finale of New Girl, a hit TV sitcom in the United States that ran from 2011 to 2018, Coach, one of the main cast members, moved out of the Los Angeles loft to New York City to be with his girlfriend. Played by Damon Wayans, Jr., Coach shared an important piece of information about his life growing up with the audience: He was a military brat. And because of this, he’d developed a packing style he referred to as a “clean break.”
This “clean break” meant bringing only the essentials — no friendship gifts or sentimental items — just the clothes he needs and the paperwork required to live a healthy life. During the episode, he shows his roommates this method through an assembly line set up on their kitchen table. “The system works. Remember, essentials only. It’s not just for packing; it’s a way of life,” he says, encouraging them with military-level strictness to do the same with their own stuff.
Throughout the episode, every roommate takes turns lamenting the friendship they were losing with Coach and begging him to take along keepsakes of them. But alas, Coach goes on to deny any care for his roommates or any of their adventures together. He’s so focused on protecting his own feelings, he doesn’t take theirs into consideration. “Fine … leave everything behind,” roommate Winston says. “Try not to remember anyone. We are nonessential. Message received.”
You wanna move forward, you gotta get rid of the past.Coach from “New Girl”
It’s at this moment that Coach slowly begins to realize his packing system may not be the best method, after all. Maybe memories do matter. In a dramatic scene full of sniffles and voice cracks, Coach grabs everything in sight: the remote, a blanket, mystery novels, a mix CD, a set of decorative, glass grapes — anything that reminds him of his roommates. By the end of the episode, he’s doubled the size of his bag and filled it with memories, you know, just to take up the extra space he has [wink].
Packing styles like “clean break” are merely a way to push down the sadness of saying goodbye to friends and the memories created with them, while not actually dealing with the pain the move may be causing. Let Coach’s lesson also be a lesson for real-life TCKs, military brats, diplomat kids, and others who move around every few years. It’s OK to feel sad, but remember, each person and place comes into your life for a reason and shapes who you become.