Lorelai and I
ok... here it is. I'm supposed to present it tomorrow in my class - for critique... not sure what I think of that. So I wanted to post this before I chickened out!
Lorelai and I
About six months ago, I brought home a DVD of The Gilmore Girls from the library. I go to the library about once a week, a throwback to the days when I would take the kids to the weekly story hour. Twelve years of Tuesdays. Now I go alone. I’m really the only one who checks out books. I love books. Always have. As an Army brat we moved every few years when I was growing up, and the first place I would go was to the public library to get a library card. But now, Amazon and iTunes have replaced the Tuesday outings. And my husband, a successful psychologist, doesn’t really read that many novels, preferring non-fiction, photography, golf, sailing, and staying active. Besides, now that my kids are 12 and 14 we don’t read together anymore. Heck, it’s a challenge to find something that we can all watch together on TV. The Gilmore Girls seemed like a good choice as I raced through the video/DVD section of the Belmont Public Library.
The Gilmore Girls is the story of a hard-working, albeit flighty, caffeine-driven mother who doesn’t cook, serves pop tarts for breakfast, and has memorized long passages from the Donna Reed show verbatim, and her studious, bookworm, ultra-responsible, 16 year old daughter who does the laundry, punishes herself when she slips up, and who despite all her naiveté is very much like her mother. Lorelai Gilmore had Rory (who she named after herself in a Demerol delirium) when she was 16 years old. She decides at 16 to raise Rory alone to the disgrace and chagrin of her wealthy, society parents, and she struggled to become the successful entrepreneur we find her to be. The series begins when Rory is 16 and trying to make her dream of going to Harvard a reality. Rory gets accepted into a prestigious private high school, leading Lorelai to agree to Friday night dinners with her parents, with whom she’s been estranged, in exchange for tuition dollars for Rory. Each episode spins a drama of parent/child angst and connection, struggles to find one’s “place” in society, the delight of a job well done, and the quest for love and acceptance of self and others. With witty banter and eccentric characters, the show has seemed to become something of an addiction in our house. We now own every season and play an episode at least once a day.
I’m not quite sure I can explain it. Is it that I too am still trying to work out my relationship with my mom? We are very different and my biggest fear is being “just like her.” It’s been 25 years since I moved 3,000 miles from her, but I still have trouble imagining how we could live in the same town. Or is it that G2 (that’s our affectionate name for the show) allows my 12-year-old daughter to both identify with the idealized mother/daughter relationship and revel in the mother/daughter rebellions? Or does it allow my hard-working 14-year-old son to fantasize about the girls he’ll be dating soon? Trying to parent adolescents has certainly been the roller coaster that people describe it as, and I’m willing to use any tactic that allows us to displace some of the difficulty of tackling the angst and joy of these years head on. Or perhaps, the show’s appeal lay in its subtle exploration of issues of social class – issues close to my heart, and by extension part of the struggle in our house of finding one’s self.
As a second generation Nuyorican, I am the first in my family to graduate from high school, much less college. Now, completing my doctoral studies, I struggle to come to terms with the disparity and dislocation I feel living with a husband whose parents drive a Jaguar and Mercedes, whose sister lives in a house with a three-car garage, and with my own choice to raise my children in a fairly affluent New England suburb.
The smart, sassy, and very independent way that Lorelai refuses to accept her parent’s wealth and social position, gives my family a chance to play with what we each accept or deny with regards to our affluence. In addition, as she struggles to speak her truth, she also thrives on being connected to others. So we too, as a family, struggle to be our true selves yet stay in connection. Language and life are her playground. And with wit and playfulness we too are trying to weather the adolescent storms and to grow up.