Back in the mid-2000s, I was commuting to a job about an hour’s drive away from our home. On my way home, on the first exit that I could take to get off the interstate highway and still get home, there was a branch of our regional public library. It was quiet, and rarely busy. I would often stop there on my way home, especially on a Friday evening, as a treat for myself to stock up on books and audiobooks (for the drive). One evening, I was looking through the DVDs to see if there was anything I’d want to watch over the weekend, and I came across Season 1 of the Gilmore Girls. This was almost ten years ago, and even then, I knew I was a good fifteen years older than their target audience, but what the heck, it was free watching, and I needed some mindless, innocent entertainment to get me through the laundry folding.
I brought it home, and I was hooked. I sometimes wish I could travel back in time to that first viewing, just so I could experience Stars Hollow and its lovely characters for the first time all over again. I shamelessly plowed through all of the seasons that the library had on DVD, and Rory and Lorelei became my companions through insomnia, on the treadmill, and any time I could sneak in a guilty pleasure episode. At the time, I wasn’t in love with my job, and I really wanted a baby more than anything. The Gilmore Girls were kind of an innocent balm to get me through that time of waiting and hoping and abject boredom. (If only I had thought of this blog back then…)
The waiting and hoping became something different when we moved to Minnesota in 2007, when I found myself looking for a different job, and waiting for our first son, who would be born almost exactly nine months after we moved in. When we moved, we decided against cable or satellite television – it was one more expense, and one more customer service experience, and we figured we’d be fine without it. (For the record, we were, and we still are.) But back then, we didn’t even have streaming services through netflix or hulu, and I don’t think amazon prime streaming had even been invented yet. So, for laundry folding, or distracting myself from the miserable all-day sickness and worry that consumed the first four months of my pregnancy with Rowan, I watched whatever DVDs we had on hand. I bought myself the entire Gilmore Girls boxed set for my 29th birthday, and watched them all. I have since found dozens of women who are my age and older who adore the show as much as I do. The writing is sharp and witty, and the actors are amazingly talented. (Look for an appearance by “Ron Swanson” as Jackson’s brother.) The story is sweet, but smart. I adore it. And in case you think that none of this has anything to do with the main focus of this blog, never fear – the Gilmore Girls mention Ina Garten at least once (WWBCD? What would the Barefoot Contessa do?), and food has a central role in every episode, from the burgers at Luke’s Diner, to the grocery store where Rory had her first kiss, to the gourmet feasts prepared by Sookie.
Gratefully, blissfully, joyfully, after months of waiting and hoping, we brought Rowan home from the hospital in January, 2008. He was the child who took his sweet time to nurse. (He still, incidentally, takes his time at the dinner table.) I was glued to the couch for 8+ hours a day. This might sound like heaven, and in a way, it really was. This was before any of us had ipads or smartphones, and even though I love, love, loved looking into my newborn’s face as he nursed (all day long), I needed something else. Remember that it was winter in Minnesota. Enter again: my beloved Gilmore Girls. (NB if you’re expecting your second child – you won’t get the luxury of choosing your nursing-time entertainment the second time around. Ben was nursed to the strains of “They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight, shunting trucks and hauling freight….”)
The opening song to the Gilmore Girls is by Carole King, who also makes a cameo appearance in some of the later seasons. It’s simple and lovely, and it brings me back to those times of wishing and hoping, and needing distractions. “Where you lead, I will follow…”
The song has been going through my head as I’ve been beginning to pack up the house this week. (We will have professional movers to do the bulk of the work this time, but we’re “staging” the house for sale, which means moving a few things around, and of course that means packing some things up. During Holy Week, naturally. I am owed a pedicure and some uninterrupted Gilmore Girls watching time at the end of all this … again.) The reason I’m thinking about the song so much is that I told Neil before we were married, and before I had heard of the Gilmore Girls, that I would go wherever he wanted to go, with a few notable exceptions. I didn’t want to do all of my grocery shopping at a 7-11 (which, let’s face it, could be in an urban food dessert or a very rural scene), and I didn’t want to live in Alaska (which always, always, always makes the Alaskans take umbrage, but hey, it’s not for everyone). I didn’t imagine that we’d be moving twice in one year, and the sound of the packing tape being stretched tightly across each box is giving me little shudders of PTSD from our last move … but if you want to live in Houston, Texas, baby you know I will (yes I will, yes I will…). “You never know how it’s all going to turn out, but that’s OK, just as long as we’re together…”
The thing that I love the most about this song is that it’s not just about romantic love. For the show, it’s clearly about the love between a mother and daughter. If you want to get all Biblical about it, the song is not unlike the words of Ruth to her mother-in-law in the first chapter of Ruth: “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” I’m really lucky that Neil’s people have all turned out to be really good people. Wherever we go, that’s our church family. I get to hear him preach wherever we go, and I feel kind of spoiled by that. We get to bring our awesome kids with us, and our goofy, sweet dog. And so, the packing doesn’t seem too bad, especially if I crank up Carole King.