I stumbled into Stars Hollow by accident. It was season two and I needed an escape. I had left my home of Milford, Michigan, for the big city of Chicago. Within weeks of arriving, the Twin Towers were hit and my new home went silent, people were more cautious, classes were cancelled, and plans were made “just in case” something were to happen. I needed to return to the safety of a small town where everyone knew everyone, where Main Street was real and people stopped to talk to each other. I needed to be in the quirky and oddly familiar world of the Gilmore Girls.
I spent a lot of time with the three, sometimes four, generations of Gilmore; their witty banter and pop-cultural references made me smile knowingly. When we would gather—there were several of us who would watch together—we brought snacks and laid down our studies for an hour to visit the snow globe of American idealism. I spent all four years of college retreating to the beauty of the gazebo in the center of town, rolling my eyes at the shenanigans of Taylor Doose, and being carried away by the melodies of Sam Phillips (as a side note, during my childhood she was a well-known CCM musician who went by Leslie Phillips, who my mom loved, so even she harkens back to a simpler time).
Where I grew up we had town festivals, great high school sports and a “down town” where people strolled, stopped at the local bakery, nodded to the meter maid, and stopped in to see Tim Twiss, who was basically our town Troubadour. It might sound like I am making this up, but if you read the works of Thomas Lynch, Milford’s undertaker and bestselling author, you will know that Milford is Norman Rockwell set in motion, and that Stars Hollow was the perfect escape for this Gibson Girl.
I continued on with the Rory, Lorelai, and Emily in my post-college life as I moved from Chicago to the Philly area. I watched Rory navigate college, relieved those years were done, yet also desperately missing the friends who I had lived with for that period of my life. As I entered adulthood, I found comfort in dormroom drama and awkward first dates of Rory’s Yale experience. Once again I found an escape with the girls Gilmore.
When the show finished, I would still watch it on DVD. I realized that I was relating less and less to Rory and more to the plus-sized sidekick, Sookie, who never allowed her size or weight to affect her life. She never talked about needing to lose pounds or struggling to find a pair of jeans that fit right. No one tried to change her, no one called her fat, or told her to hit the gym, she was loved and accepted for who she was. So, I took cues from Sookie and her body positive life—I embraced my curves and style the way she and her community did.
But now several years later, and after watching the reboot, I do not know how I feel about returning to Luke’s. I wonder if I have outgrown it. I feel the same way when I visit my hometown, like I do not fit there anymore. Milford Bakery might have the best donuts in the world, but they are no longer my donuts, just like Gilmore Girls is no longer my comfort food. I have surrounded myself with, in the words of Rory, “supremely real characters.” The cast of my community makes my day-to-day fun and the unexpected beautiful. Home is not a place I return to, it is where I am, and I have moved on to living in the unknown of my own life rather than the safety of the snow globe.