It began last Christmas, my journey to Stars Hallow and introduction to all things Gilmore. I was deathly ill (sick with a sinus infection) and could not move (didn’t want to), nor could I breathe. What else was there to do but browse through Netflix? Gilmore Girls, I’ve heard of that for the past decade, the revival was just released, that looks like the perfect show to keep my mind off the agony of slow asphyxiation. Click. The now familiar, can-sing-this-in-my-sleep, theme song began and I was sucked into the 100+ episode sage of the well beloved mother-daughter duo.
Last week, over pop tarts and a pot of coffee (I am nothing but thorough in my commemoration of stories I love), I finished the revival. 153 episodes plus the four episodes from the revival later and I’ll tell you this: Gilmore Girls changed my life.
Not in an epic way with flashes of lightning or angelic visitations. It was a quiet change. Subtle, gentle, and with lots of laughter, guiding me to a fresh way of looking at all the life happening around me, and reminding me how my own life fit in. By the time the credits rolled for the final time (who knew a simple guitar riff could sound like an old friend?) I had a storehouse full of small insights given to me by Lorelai, Rory, and all those other beloved friends on Gilmore Girls.
Small Town Charm is a gift
Three years ago I posted a picture of the quaint Main Street in the (very) small town I’d just moved to. One of my friends replied: “You basically live in Stars Hallow!” For two years that comment meant nothing to me, but as I fell in love with Gilmore Girls I naturally fell for their sweet hometown, Stars Hallow. I realized my friend was right. The heartwarming (albeit sometimes obnoxious) qualities of small-town living that we love so much in this show are part of my daily life. From coffee shop owners and librarians knowing my name (and orders) to the regular run-ins with people you didn’t necessarily want to talk to in the narrow grocery aisles to festivals taking over the entire town. I don’t always love it, the Gilmores didn’t always love it (like that one time Lorelai couldn’t leave her house after a breakup because the entire town was weirdly involved) but at the end of the day it is a tremendous gift. (Rory’s going away party, anyone?)
We all have a collection of “townies” in our life. The bizarre Kirks with their outrageous antics, the loud Babettes with all of her awkwardly personal comments, the uptight Taylors with all their grand (disastrous) plans. It’s what makes the show so sparkly. So come on in to my life, all you unique individuals with your idiosyncrasies, come and sparkle it up.
Coffee Coffee Coffee
I regularly experienced a sudden and overwhelming desire to pour myself a cup of hot coffee while watching this show. Because one person enjoying something often spurs others on in the same direction. Thank you, Lorelai and Rory, for deepening my already adamant love for coffee. (Confession: Lorelai’s habit of consuming large quantities of my favorite beverage may have been what inspired me to keep going after the pilot.)
Keep Showing Up
Here’s something I know well: familial relationships are not always easy. I’ve sat through family meals that feel like Friday night dinners at Richard and Emily’s. I acutely relate to the difficult dynamics within this family. And yet, Friday after Friday, they keep showing up at dinner. The problems never go away, the relationships don’t magically get better, but they are showing up. Sometimes that’s the best you can do.
Love Your People
Among my favorite moments in A Year in a Life was Sookie’s appearance in the final episode. I didn’t realize how much I missed her until she was there in the kitchen, with a dozen wedding cakes and her infectious dimpled smile. I didn’t just tear up, I did one of those shudder sobs when your whole body cries. And the reason is because I have a Sookie. Vivacious, exuberant, honest, and there for me – no matter what. Watching this steady friendship over the seasons makes me doubly appreciative for my own, and eager to show up on her front doorstep and hug her tight.
I just listened to Lauren Graham’s memoir – Talking As Fast As I Can. It was sweet and poignant and utterly delightful. It was like Lorelai came along with me on my evening run and morning drive. While I listened I was struck by the sheer joy she had in bringing her character to life, and I thought of the sheer pleasure I had in getting to know her character. And then I thought of all the characters in books and movies and TV shows that have added extraordinary richness to my own life. Put up against all the responsibilities and pressures and sadnesses in our real lives, Netflix viewing, novel reading, theater going and fiction in general can seem indulgent. We think of it as a waste of time, a pleasurable pastime that we can cut out of our schedule in order to make room for the practical stuff – the true things happening in real life. But here’s the thing: just because something (or someone) is fictional doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Sometimes the best truth reaches us in the guise of made-up characters living in made up towns facing made up circumstances. Sometimes that’s exactly the truth we needed to hear in order deepens our understanding and appreciation of our own right-now lives. And that is why I watched 153 episodes of a fictional story about two fictional people living in the fictional realm of Stars Hallow. Because there I found truth.
Speaking of fiction, I’ll be sending out my end of month newsletter in just a week. It is going to be packed full with great book titles that can add truth into your right-now life, along with the other things making up my right-now life. Sign up here to receive it!