Between the summer after my senior year of high school, and the summer after my senior year of college, I attended more weddings than I can easily count up in my head. Including my own. In one of these weddings I was a bridesmaid, and 8 months pregnant. With my second child. By the time I was 25, more of my friends were married than single. If you ask your friends who grew up in a place like I did, I’m sure they’ll tell you a similar story.
The point being: There are still large swaths of the country where getting married young to your high school or college sweetheart isn’t weird. It’s just a thing people do. Honestly, we don’t even really think about it. “But they’re so young,” isn’t a thing you generally hear.
Why am I even bringing this up? For a very good reason, I promise. We are now living in a world that has been privy to the return of my favorite show of all time, Gilmore Girls. Lead up to the revival had people speculating en masse on who Rory would end up with. A standard question in groups of GG fans was, “Are you team Logan or team Jess?” [If you’re team Dean, we need to talk…] The idea of a new beau was untenable. (I’m guessing partly because it’s hard to care about a character without there being time and reason, so we stuck with what we knew.) But also, we just liked the idea of Rory with these guys. We liked how she was with them, how they were with her. We relished the idea of happily ever after.
Since the revival I’ve seen a lot of talk about why we shouldn’t want someone to end up with a person they dated when they were still basically a kid, and I’ve honestly spent a lot of time thinking about it. I came to a conclusion that may feel like a stretch to some, but hear me out. There is a clear divide in this country, and it can be seen easily when you look at which counties and states voted in what way in our most recent presidential election. However, I posit that it can also be measured by how people feel about, and react to, Rory Gilmore’s love life. Seriously, stay with me on this…
I’m a liberal who grew up in a rural town in the mountains of Idaho. There were two thousand people, and the primary industry [after logging was made difficult by the Clinton administration] was tourism. I was raised by conservative, evangelical parents. I went to a private, Christian University. What I’m saying is, I am super familiar with the part of the population that doesn’t live in a major urban area. They are my friends, and family. For years they were me.
Here’s the thing about those of us who grow up in the middle of nowhere, we tend to get married young. Not because we don’t want careers, or don’t have options, it’s just something that is totally normalized when we’re small, and again when we start dating. So it wasn’t weird to us when Lane or Dean got married, and it isn’t weird to us to think of Rory ending up with Jess or Logan. That’s just life.
As I’ve gotten older, and ventured outside of my bubble, I’ve spent a lot of time explaining that it isn’t just the religious right who gets married young in certain places, it’s bigger than that. It’s cultural; just a thing we do. Our timeline is sped up. We get married, have kids, and get divorced before our coastal, urban contemporaries even begin the cycle. It’s how we were raised, and, for the most part, we don’t find it to be that problematic. We still get degrees and have jobs, we just travel the world in our 30s and 40s instead of our 20s. It’s not wrong, just different, but it also illustrates a key variation in the way we see the world, politics, and [arguably most importantly] Rory Gilmore’s future.
We who married young do, often, have different concerns. We want the ability to buy homes when some of our unmarried buds are still content renting. We need financial security, and a stable workforce because we are growing, and buying pants every three weeks for, tiny humans. We tend to stay in the towns or states where we were raised, and we have a vested interest in rural life and politics. What happens with farms and factories plays a big role in our lives, and we feel the economic disparity between city and country when it comes to infrastructure, and the way we go about each day. When someone wants to charge a tax on the miles we drive in a car, we take that personally, because driving is the only way we can get from point A to point B. Life is different, so we also experience media and entertainment differently. The idea of Rory spending forever with Logan [sorry Jess fans], isn’t gross, it’s totally romantic, normal, and 100% identifiable. We see ourselves in that story. That’s us.
Look, there are a lot of places we need to look at each other and try to find similarities. We need to take a peek into the lives of people who aren’t us, and try to understand what it’s like to be them in the day-to-day. This is small, but world changing, and, if you’ve stuck with me thus far, I’m hoping you’ll also stick with me for a little challenge…
Take a minute today to see things through the eyes of someone who spends life differently than you do. It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. Start small. Think about how they experience the nightly news, or the radio while they drive to work, or a television program. Think about the things that are important to them that aren’t important to you, and, even if you disagree, try to understand where they are coming from. To make things right again, we have to see each other as people*, and we have to be able to communicate. It’s important.
*Unless you are team Dean. I’m sorry. I just can’t.