Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cookies and Gilmore Girls

Mellie is making cookies.

It's the end of the middle day of a three day weekend and I am sitting in my living room with Dirk while we count the minutes until the end of Julie's soccer practice--the penultimate practice prior to a major tournament next weekend in Cincinnati (an outdoor tournament, for goodness' sake, in February)--when I will have to drive into Buffalo Grove to pick her up. Earlier this afternoon, we finished watching the final season of The Gilmore Girls together, and (as I did last spring when I saw it for the first time) I cried incessantly. It isn't a sad ending, exactly, not in the universe of Stars Hollow, but it is saying goodbye, and saying goodbye is never easy.

That's what Mellie and Julie don't really understand. That's why, when I was crying, Mellie stood behind me telling me over and over that "it's just a TV show, Mom." That's why Julie lay on the couch and, though her eyes teared up a bit also, she was able to maintain a bit more detachment: she could see the goodbyes, but she could also see, as could Mellie, that this small artificial universe would always be there if we chose to return to it. And, of course, I could see that also: wasn't I returning to it for a second time already?

But what they could not see was what I saw all too clearly. I could see the pain in Lorelei's eyes when she stopped planning Rory's departure long enough to recognize that, yes, Rory was leaving. I could see the pain in Emily's eyes when she heard the news and knew that Rory's impending freedom may mean not only the loss of seeing her granddaughter, but also her second loss of her daughter. I could see it all not only from the perspective of someone who had reached the end of what had been a wonderful seven-season ride with some of the most well-written and beautifully-performed characters I've ever known, but as a parent who has already watched one child walk out of the nest and who, in a few too-brief years, will be watching the others follow.

It's only a TV show, Mellie said. And she's right. But it's also way, way too real.

I could feel her hand on my shoulder as I was watching these last episodes. Mellie was sitting in a chair directly behind me, and she could see my reactions most clearly. She knew my fingers hesitated even pushing the button to start playing the final episode, called Bon Voyage. She could see when the tears began. She placed her hand on my shoulder at some point and just left it there. I'm pretty sure she thought I was being ridiculous. I probably was, at least from any rational perspective. But my mind was not only in Gilmore-land. It was glancing across to the other couch and imagining two years hence when Julie will be saying goodbye. It was imagining three years after that when it will be Melanie following her, and only a single additional year before Julie's college graduation. And it was remembering the tears in my own mother's eyes when I flew off to college the first time, the second time, the third time. Time is flying by, and I can do nothing at all to slow it down.

Yesterday, Julie and her boyfriend Max celebrated a one-year anniversary. They gave each other "promise rings," and Julie was very upset with me when I did not respond "appropriately" with complete agreement and enthusiasm over the not-so-implied element of "pre-engagement" that she intended in that gesture. They know that they will be together forever, that they will be married, that they are true soulmates.

I call that being sixteen. Maybe they will be together forever. That's possible. But it will take a lot more than a promise ring to secure that future through all of the trials and turmoils that are to come. Julie's one major issue with the ending of The Gilmore Girls had to do with Rory's relationship with her boyfriend of the past three seasons. In the final three episodes, he proposes to her and she decides not to marry him. She has too many lives to live, she discovers, partially to her own surprise. Julie, so deeply in love, feels that was unsatisfying, an "unhappy" ending. I tried to explain that it was perfectly in keeping with the inherent independence of the character, but she was having none of it. She is celebrating being sixteen and being in love, and Rory's rejection of marriage to a good man who loves her made no sense, especially since she loves him too.

And, no, it doesn't make sense, but when did love and marriage and relationships ever?

Though there are no further episodes of the series, in our hearts we can imagine the future of the characters of Stars Hollow, the directions their lives will lead them. We can imagine Luke and Lorelei finally marrying. We can imagine her relationship with her mother, oddly disjointed yet firmly interconnected, going on and on now that they have finally begun to understand one another. And we can imagine Rory, given the freedom to explore who she is, discovering or rediscovering the passions that made her fascinating in the first place. Love will come with time. Passion, though, is what she has always been about.

As I watched the closing of the series--again--I was glad for the weight of Mellie's hand on my shoulder, the firm touch emblematic of the time we still have remaining. And I was happy to see Julie across from me, my own Rory, or at least one of my two Rories, here and now even though, clearly, not forever. The tears came; I didn't even try to stop them. I couldn't have. My daughters would not understand. But if they watched this series thirty years from now with their own daughters, I know they would.

The cookies are done. They smell good, and Mellie, reading this over my shoulder, her chin resting on my head, wants me to try one. I will, and then I'll go to pick up Julie at soccer. This is life today. It's comfortable and warm and wonderful.

And so darned temporary.

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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and