Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oy with the Poodles Already!

They just put Gilmore Girls on Netflix.  Streaming, instant, whatever you want to call it.  It originally aired in 2000 - fourteen years ago.  This show defined my teenage years.  It painted a sort of picture that I thought my life would look like as a teenager, as a high schooler, as a college student.  The one-liners, the untraditional way I was raised, but most importantly, the close and unique and so unlike any other kind of mother-daughter relationship.

My mother and I, we were the Gilmore Girls.  You could try to understand us.  We could try to explain how we were.  But it wouldn't cover it.  It wouldn't even come close.  She is the reason that I made a funny face as I walked across the platform when my name was called to accept my college diploma.  She is the reason that I broke up with my first boyfriend.  She is the voice in my head that I hear when I think about doing anything important or scary or hard.

Now, all of you know that I have a sister and my mother has another daughter.  She is an amazing one, the best one really.  The kind of sister that other people wish they had.  A kind of sister that you consider your best friend, that you hope doesn't think you're pathetic and ridiculous and horrible for knowing every little bit of your deepest and darkest secrets because she's just so damn cool and great and smart and together  But all of that - all of that closeness and maturity and wisdom came later, came after high school and college and many, many mistakes.

But during the Gilmore-formative-college-choosing-years, my sister was in high school and had a life filled with friends and parties and boyfriends whereas I preferred imagining my life turning out like the girl in a show.  My mother and I spent a lot of time with each other, sitting across from each other, silently reading books and flipping through magazines and drinking far, far too much coffee.  We were each other's best friend.  We dreamt of opening an inn together, a restaurant, a cafe, a bookstore.  We had so many dreams.

And now, watching this show again, watching this show that I watched fourteen years ago, I smile and drop a happy nostalgic tear for the way in which I began this little life.  More than ten years ago, I started looking for colleges.  I requested information from every college that I ever dreamed of attending.  I sent away for the glossy brochures from Dartmouth and Brown and Yale and UCLA and Notre Dame.  I would sit on the floor of my tiny bedroom, surrounded by the applications, thinking about what kind of essay I would write, what I would say when asked what famous person, living or dead, I would like to have dinner with.  Where I saw myself in five years.  Who had the biggest influence on me, and why.

Then, one day, a friend of mine told me about Grand Valley State University.  A small school in the southwestern part of Michigan that had a great reputation and was affordable to those that had higher GPA's.  It was only two hours away.  And one Sunday, after weeks of looking at the pictures and classes and extracurricular activities online, my mother and I decided to take a trip and tour the campus.

I remember walking around on a misty cold afternoon in January, the strange time between Michigan winter and Midwestern spring, following along with nervous high school seniors and excited parents.  I remember being enchanted.  I remember looking at the tall buildings and the massive classrooms and the not at all awful cafeteria food with great coffee and movie nights and book stores and dusty and perfect libraries.  And I remember trailing behind the group with my mom, joking around and sharing a coffee and joyously looking forward to what my life would be like once I started college.

We chose to stay the night, get the full effect and feel and experience of living on campus.  It's so strange looking back and remembering the places we walked and ate and drank coffee and slept and then later knowing them as places I walked to class every day and ate lunch every day and drank coffee multiple times a day and never slept again because it was the Honors College that I didn't want to be part of because it came with too many responsibilities.  Anyway.  We stayed on campus. And they put us in this room that for some reason I don't remember having sheets.  It was just this room that was cheaper than a hotel even though we could have driven home but we didn't.   And I remember laughing with her.  I remember the mattresses being squeaky and both of us being too excited about my future in a college to sleep and the unsettled feeling that comes with sleeping away from one's own bed causing us to stay awake.  So we decided to get up.  And we walked down in our pajamas with a bag of Oreo's and bottles of vending machine water and figured out how to turn on the TV in the great room on the bottom floor.  It was winter break.  Campus was empty.   We watched the VH1 show "I Love the 80's: Part Deux." We laid on our sides on the common room couches, giggling and snacking and staying up into the wee hours of the morning, only to wake up late, groggy and guilty for not putting the couches back where we found them,  We were impressed by the omelette bar and drank more than our fair share of coffee and then we got back in the car and drove home, talking incessantly about the pros and cons of the college that we just visited.  That memory, that magic, that laughter and that trip is why I consider my mom my best friend.

This is her birthday month.  And since that college visit over a decade ago, we've taken many trips and spent many hours giggling together up late when we should have been sleeping.  But regardless of the age that she is turning this year, she will always be 38 to me.  That age, that number that means nothing, will always be the time that I remember my amazing mother.  She is great.  She is crazy.  No one will ever understand her like my sister and I understand her.  I miss her every day. I talk to her every day.  I would not be who I am without the influence that she had in my life.  She is my guidepost.

She is my llama.

I love you momma.

Oy with the poodles already!!

The llamas are vacuuming!

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