On the day my sister left for college, I made a few mistakes.
Mistake #1 was putting on makeup. Ironically enough, I'd all but stopped wearing it until this point, because I like how I look without it, it's effort to put on, and I cry too much anyway.
Mistake #2 was bringing up Gilmore Girls. Why, oh why, did I bring up Gilmore Girls?!
Mistake #3 was thinking that this wasn’t going to be a big deal. Because it freaking was.
Let me rewind. My sister and I have a complex relationship, as I think most sisters do. We’ve kind ofsort of gotten along our entire lives, but have never had that cliche sisterly bond some films tell you you should have. (I'm looking at you, Sisters.) But one thing we’ve always had in common was…Gilmore Girls. When we were younger, we used to bathe together, as most little kids do. We all have those embarrassing pictures of us with our siblings in the bath, hair spiked and bubbles all over everything. So we took showers together, and I can remember singing the theme song at the top of our lungs while she stood at the corner of the shower because I always turned the water way too hot. And granted, if we were young enough to still be taking showers together, chances are we were too young to be watching Gilmore Girls. But I was against censorship from a very young age, and therefore did not give a shit. And she followed my lead.
We watched it when we spent the summers home alone together, our little brother forced to go to the babysitter. And we watched it, in full, from the very beginning, starting in November 2014 and lasting through to September 2015. We had never watched the show front to back like that before, and I gotta say, it’s one of my favorite memories with my sister. Through some of the hardest years, and hardest moments in our lives up to that point, we always had Gilmore Girls to come back to. I remember spending the day before Thanksgiving in my bed while a snowstorm raged outside, watching episode after episode. Both of us staying up way too late on a school night (for her) because we had to see what happened with Luke and Lorelei and that crazy cliffhanger. Debating who we preferred— Dean, Jess, Logan? (She’s team Jess, I’m team Rory.) My asking, "One more?" even when we had already been watching for four straight hours. Analyzing who was who… I told her she was Paris, because I’m mean, but she’s really Rory and I’m a definite Lorelei. Even though I'm the older sister, much like Rory, she's always been the one in charge here.
So when I went into her room on Thursday morning before leaving for work, I talked about the only thing I could manage— Gilmore Girls. “I’m not saying we should make a pact not to watch it apart…but I think we should wait and watch it together.” I hesitantly said about the new revival season coming to Netflix this fall. (Okay, that sounded like an ad. But I don't even care because everyone should watch this show and I’m not even sorry.) She nodded her head vigorously in response. I asked her when she’d be home, she said she’ll be here for Thanksgiving. And then something crazy started happening. She started to tear up. Now, let me give you some more backstory. I’ve seen my sister cry about real people and real emotion (we aren’t counting stress from school or Fault in Our Stars related tears) about three times. I can legitimately count them. 1) When I got in my car accident in September of 2013, my sister was still at home. My mom was supposed to drive her to school that morning, but didn’t when she got the phone call from me. So when I got home and was just sitting at the kitchen table sobbing, my sister came over, crying too, and hugged me. (That’s also one of the few times she’s ever voluntarily hugged me.) 2) When our childhood babysitter died, and we went to her funeral. I’m pretty sure she cried. 3) Thursday morning.
I hugged her, and because we aren’t emotional with each other said, “Don’t cry or I’ll throw up on you.” And then, because I’m not a monster, “You’re going to be so fine. I’m not even worried about you, I’m worried about me worrying about you.”
“I know I’m going to be fine, I don’t know why I’m crying.” Then she cried more, and I cried more, and then I said, “F**k you, I did really good makeup!” And then I realized that if I stuck around any longer it would only get worse, so I said, “I have to walk away from you now," and she nodded and I did.
We didn't know why we were crying so much, and I still don't. And I know what you’re thinking, it’s fine, chill out, she didn’t die or anything…But I think it has something to do with this: her toothbrush is gone. Like for good. I keep thinking that I hear her in the morning, or will run into her in the bathroom when I'm getting ready for work and she's getting ready for the weight room. The most crippling realization for me has been-- every time she comes home now, it will be to visit. Even though she probably won't think of it that way for a while, each time she comes home it'll feel a little less like home to her. That's what's effing with me most right now. The spaces we inhabit mean nothing until we inhabit them. And after, they mean even less. They're just shells of memory. I think the hardest part for me is remembering the words to that theme song and realizing that this time, I can't follow where she leads.