I’d like to acknowledge that it’s not your fault. You are a fictional character from a television show, and I knew that all along. But when you’re a smart eleven year old girl from small town Connecticut who goes off to private school and you see a character on TV who’s a smart, slightly older girl from small town Connecticut who goes off to private school, it can be hard to forget that this is a TV drama and not your actual life.
I forgot that this was a TV drama and not my actual life. And who can blame me? You and your mother were adorable, the talk of the town. You put your studies first, dated cute boys second, and talked about it with your mom over coffee. This sounds so silly, and it is, but I idolized you for so many years. My coffee dependency started early, eighth grade, right when my mom and I started watching your show. A couple years later, I was captain of the debate team at my fancy, Corinthian-columned high school, and while I didn’t graduate first in my class, it didn’t matter because I packed my bags and headed for Yale. I was living in the Rory Gilmore dream world, or so I thought.
College brought new hurdles, and I did my best to leap over them. But after my sophomore year, I couldn’t keep leaping, and so I left Yale. My friends reminded me that you had taken time off of school, too, though under entirely different circumstances. The parallels seemed to continue. But as I filled out form after form of readmission information, I remembered you and your brief stint with the university therapist (which was just you crying into a box of Kleenex about Logan) and how they let you back in just like that. You even graduated on time. I sulked in the dean’s office with my check written out to Yale for “readmission processing fees”, the memo of which read, “get your head out of your ass, Yale” (in the end, they didn’t accept this check, not because of my vulgar inscription but because they changed their outrageous policy and waived the fee). I knew they were going to readmit me, but that didn’t change the fact that I didn’t want to be here anymore. I didn’t want to be you, anymore, either.
How could I be? I was so far off track. I wrote one shitty piece for the Yale Daily News my freshman year, about aspartame of all things. I had no Logan Huntzburger to date (and thank god, because that guy’s the actual worst). No wealthy grandfather to pick up my tab. My relationship with my parents was rocky on a good day. Years of stress and anxiety and coffee wrecked my immune system. I was 21 and directionless. Motionless. I finally saw that this world had been constructed for girls like you, who had cotillions and trust funds, and not for the rest of us who have to deal with real world issues.
You and your mother mocked the lavish parties and affairs, sure, but they were a big part of your life and your social mobility. Your relationship with your grandparents is complicated, I get that. But that’s just human. We all have complicated family relationships, but some of us have to deal with financial concerns on top of it. Although your mother is depicted as a badass, working-class, perfect mama, she isn’t. The problem isn’t that she’s imperfect; we all are. It’s that she denies where she came from and the privileges she was awarded at birth and every year that followed. She struggled with petulant pride and daddy issues. I know you want to write a book about her or whatever, but honestly, she’s a whiner. Through every “crisis” ya’ll endured, Emily and Richard were there in the background, willing and able to bail you out. Just like magic.
My life, on the other hand, is real. And I don’t mean real in the sense of happening-in-the-real-world, because art mimics life or whatever. My life is raw and honest because I choose to live it that way. When I see you fight with your mother or struggle with one of your pretty-boy boyfriends, I see a child who’s scared and confused, not a grown-ass woman who’s taking control of her life. I’m glad you’re struggling this year, in 2016, because it’s been a real bitch for us all. We had a good thing going, Rory, but look at you. You never grew up. You wanted to “go out in the world and write,” but you were so sheltered by your shiny, Starshollow snow globe that you never grew a thick enough skin to deal with it. I used to think your relationship with your mother was the shit, but now I see that it’s just shit. She coddled you and protected from ever screwing up, doing wrong, being wronged. That’s not right and it’s not realistic. And every mother wants that for her kid: to keep them safe. But there’s a difference between safe and casted with no space to change or challenge or grow. You’ve got one episode left to prove me wrong in this letter. But if not, I’d just like to say, it’s been nice knowing you. Good luck with your thirties. You seem wildly unprepared.
P.S. To my own mother, since I know you are going to read this, this next bit is for you: I would take a knife-wielding, red-eyed, tear-stained fight with you any day (preferably not near exams, but hey, we’ve been there before) over a Rory and Lorelai arm-linking, funnel-cake-eating, sunny picnic. And not because funnel cake makes me ill. Because look at where it got them. They’re a mess, and maybe we are, too, a little, but at least it’s our mess and it’s legitimate and not infuriatingly contrived. These women aren’t heroes and they’re hardly feminists. Looking back now, I can’t see why we ever looked up to them in the first place.
And for your musical note, my favorite cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young “Our House.”