Not much in my life has ever been stable. I’ve moved from place to place, school to school, job to job, relationship to relationship. The one consistency in my world began when I was 13. It was 2000, the year that “Gilmore Girls” premiered.
The deceptively simple dramedy about a single mother and her daughter grabbed my heart immediately. I first watched the show with my own single mother, the two of us amazed at seeing ourselves reflected in bookish, teenage Rory and affectionate, strong-willed Lorelai. Their bond was more like friendship than mother and daughter. Although I wasn’t quite that close to my mom, she was one of my best friends.
Since its original run, I’ve re-watched the series many times. “Gilmore Girls” would be playing in the background while I did my homework. I would watch it for comfort when I was struggling through a breakup or a bad episode of depression. Whatever I was going through at the time, the show’s familiarity would anchor and soothe me. I memorized so many of the episodes that I felt as much a resident of Stars Hollow as any of the characters on the show.
Like Rory, I was an introverted teenager who aspired to share my experiences through writing. Now I strive to be like Lorelai and like my own mother — self-sufficient, independent and resilient. When I was younger, I related to Rory’s difficulty connecting with her dad; my own father remarried and moved across the country. As an adult, Lorelai’s ongoing struggle to meet her parents’ expectations has reminded me of my relationship with my father and stepmother. I’ve worried that they’ve judged me for pursuing my dream of being a writer instead of finding a job that would earn more money. My path as a 20-something has been challenging, and I’ve been afraid that they’ve been disappointed in me.
As I’ve faced challenges as a 20-something, I’ve often wondered: What would Rory or Lorelai do? When I hit setbacks with my writing career, I remembered how Rory’s rejection from a New York Times fellowship led to her covering Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. When I worried that my family wasn’t proud of me, I thought about how Lorelai didn’t invite her parents to her business school graduation, but they showed up anyway and celebrated her success. That example helped encourage me to share my writing with my dad and stepmom; like Lorelai’s parents, they were surprisingly supportive once I let them in.
Rory and Lorelai’s respective relationship troubles have mirrored my own difficult search for someone who understands me and loves me for me. My first boyfriend was so much like Dean — devoted, intense and clingy, at least in the beginning. When he dumped me, I couldn’t stop thinking about Dean and Rory’s heart-wrenching breakup. Inspired by the show, I put everything I associated with my ex-boyfriend in a box and hid it in the back of my closet. In my adult years, there was a man with whom the timing was never quite right — similar to how Lorelai had so many false starts with Luke. I wanted to be with him, but he didn’t want to be in a relationship. By the time he was ready, I had already moved on.
For a long time, I’d wanted to keep my obsession with “Gilmore Girls” to myself. But last year, for the first time I shared the show with a man in my life. I felt that he needed to understand this important part of me, this television show that meant more to me than any other. I wanted him to see why Stars Hollow was more of a home to me than anywhere I’d ever lived.
As we watched the series together, I felt surprisingly vulnerable. If he didn’t like the show, did he really “get” me? I was glad when he laughed at the jokes, relieved when he didn’t tell me to turn it off. Like the most die-hard devotees, we even debated who was the best of Rory and Lorelai’s boyfriends. (We’re both Team Jess, but I’m Team Max and he’s Team Luke.)
With the excitement over the Netflix revival, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” I’ve been amazed to see the swarm of fans coming out of the woodwork and the new ones discovering the show for the first time. It feels like millions of people have suddenly descended upon my secret club house, but I’m glad to know that “Gilmore Girls” is resonating with so many people.
Even though I’ve been away for a long time, I know that when I return to Stars Hollow, it will still feel like home.