Lorelei Gilmore and Adulthood

Lauren Graham.jpg
First season Lorelei

I would have to dive deeper into the fandom than I feel entirely comfortable with, but I think it’s safe to say that now, at 32, I’m close to Lorelei Gilmore’s age in the Gilmore Girls pilot — maybe even older if Rory is 15 at the start of season one, but let’s not get into the nitty gritty.

What’s certain and relevant here is that when I first watched the show I was young enough to identify with Rory and now I’m old enough to be a peer of Lorelei’s and that’s pretty weird.

What did I think adulthood was, back then, watching Gilmore Girls in eleventh grade trigonometry? (Why was I allowed to watch tv in math class? Why was I allowed in trigonometry at all? These are separate questions.)

She was the first mother, maybe, that I saw as a real three-dimensional person existing beyond her motherhood. I recognized her as a cool mom, certainly of a different style than my mom, who was 27 when she had me, not 16, without really wishing I had the Lorelei-variety mom. (I went on to have Pippin just shy of turning 27 myself, so I am also not of the Lorelei-variety.)

Lorelei’s a tough and independent provider for her daughter, something I admire as a woman who’s gone directly from my father filing my taxes to my husband handling it, who never has had the burden of bringing home a living wage.

On the other hand, watching the show over, I’m struck by Lorelei’s immaturity, her mostly unacknowledged attempts to correct her own mistakes and live through Rory, especially in “their” dream for Rory to attend Harvard. At the time I was oblivious.

Looking back, I’m dismayed to see she’s not a real grownup, but also somewhat relieved —  because I’m not a real grownup, either. Not in the same ways: I do not show up at school drop-off in tiny cutoffs and cowboy boots (or own these things), or start dating my children’s teachers (or date at all). But in other ways, I’m definitely still growing up, even in ways that Lorelei has already aced. I understand nothing about personal finance (Lorelei already owns a home). I struggle with polite chit-chat and fancy table manners (and Lorelei has no doubt been handling salad forks since she was allowed at the grown up table).

And neither of us has any idea, really, of where we want our next thirty years to take us. She wants her own inn, maybe, to finish her much-delayed college education. She wants to find the right guy, be a good mom. I want to keep my marriage thriving, find more ways to write, create a loving home, be a good mom myself. The rest is pretty hazy for first season Lorelei and me.

But that’s kind of what our early thirties are about, right? If I can give Lorelei grace that she’s still young and figuring it out, I can certainly extend the same grace to myself. We are, after all, just Girls. 

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