Resisting Defeat

This something I wrote around the Christopher/Rory and Christopher/Lorelai dynamic, in Gilmore Girls. It starts at the scene where Rory visits Chris at his office. I thought a start there would build an interesting back story to that scene, maybe about where Chris is at with his feelings about Lorelai and how things ended as well as the broken relationship between him and Rory. 

The Awkward Conversation

She was so incredibly formal that day, sitting in my office, barely touching the coffee I had brought back for her. The small talk. Questions about Gigi and my girlfriend, Lara. All of it sounded forced. Though I hadn’t much to do with Rory, for reasons no matter how hard I tried I could never justify, I knew my daughter well enough to know there was something going on in that head, something big.

That Buffy reference when I asked how she was doing was the final straw.
“Something going on in that head of yours, kiddo?” I asked.
She muttered something in coherent about “stuff”, before dropping the gutrenching bombshell. “Mom and Luke are getting married.” I swallowed hard, struggling to maintain composure, but inside I felt like the wound I thought was almost healed had just busted open. “Did she tell you?” There was a tone in her voice I hadn’t heard since it all ended between her mother and I. I felt sure she was fishing for a reaction.
That was a time I didn’t want to revisit, not then, in that moment with my daughter, who’s visit was such a rarity these days that I knew something serious was on her mind. “I’m not real good at keeping up with emails so… maybe.” Even in my own head that sounded lame.
“Well it’s a town thing,” Rory said, matter of factly, “And I thought you should know”. For a moment I wondered if she was extending an invitation, and I was already searching my head for excuse that wouldn’t sound quite so lame as the email thing, until she reached the crux of her revelation, ”but I’m kind of hoping you won’t…”
“Show up?” I finished. “I won’t.” I wasn’t sure if I was hurt or relieved. “Knowing when to admit defeat is one of my better qualities.” All I knew was lame excuses were not needed. I had blown my chances with Lorelai years ago, repeatedly. Still there was that more than niggling pain in my chest, like things were not quite finished, there, and watching Lorelai marry that weird diner-guy was not something in which I was ready to partake. I wasn’t ready to lay my feelings to rest, but I felt the window of opportunity was never fully closed. “You’re the man I want to want!” Lorelai had sobbed the day we ended it. I’d delayed to signing of the papers dissolving our marriage, believing that time was the answer. Lorelai just needed time but how much time, nine years? How long would she endure with Luke until she woke up and realised Luke was not the right man for. He was never right for her and I swore to this day that when she figured out she deserved better, I would be waiting for her to choose me. Was the window finally closing? Had I waited too long?
“I wish her all the happiness in the world.” I smiled in a poor attempt to show Rory that I was okay with things and that I would not be rattled.
After that, the conversation plunged deeper into a darker weirder place that had me again thinking that Rory was not okay. My daughter was poker faced but I knew she was struggling just as much as I at keeping it. Talking about switching gears from her dream career to writing a tell all memoir about her life growing up with Lorelai.
“Do I appear in a cloud of sulphur?” I joked. “Don’t make me out to be too much of a villain, okay? I may have my faults but I loved her, and you” I added. It was then the questions started about my absence in her childhood, and my feelings about that. As much as it hurt me to admit it, I told her it was exactly what was meant to happen and that Lorelai would back me up on that, a lie I knew because I knew the door to Rory had always been open, but my stupid pride had been the thing that stopped me from walking through it until she was sixteen and practically raised and clearly doing ok without me around, and now the woman sitting before me looking every bit like her mother had turned out okay, right?
“Yeah, I guess she would” Rory had said. The Poker face was cracking and I immediately regretted my harsh response.
“You know I love you right?” I half asked.
“Yeah I know,” she had mumbled, before I feigned an urgent work call to break the awkward silenced that ensued.
Promptly she left and I sat, phone in hand, with no intention of using it, just staring into space.

A Surprise Guest

The first thing I noticed about the Stars Hollow was how overly festive it looked, even for the quaint snow globe-esk town that for a small town was the place I lived but could never bring myself to call home. I had tried. Believe me I had tried to learn to love the place, for Lorelai mostly and Rory. Granted, Gigi really loved living in Rory’s room, and raising her in a close knit small town did seem appealing at the time, even idyllic, but the collective of circus freaks and misfits was not my idea of an inviting social circle, despite the orchestrated attempts of my then wife to integrate me into to the fold. The man-date she set up for me with the farmer, with who I shared nothing in common, was at best, a disaster.
Rory had mentioned the wedding was to be a town thing and I couldn’t help marvelling at the lengths the town had gone to create the kind of magic that screamed Lorelai in every way. It was a far cry from the wedding party Emily was planning for our day. I imagined for a moment that beautiful woman walking through that wonderland and up the steps of the gazebo with all its twinkle lights blazing, to meet her groom. I indulged in the brief fantasy that the groom was me not Luke standing in front of the Swan who had only grown more amazing as she aged. How had I let this woman go? I shook the reverie away, as I brought myself back to reality. This was my moment, hiding in the alleyway, after having spotted Lorelai sipping wine on the gazebo steps, a sight that was unusual in itself at that time of the morning. Usually she’d be throwing her fuzzy clock across the room if it sounded this early, yet there she was and the warm glow of the sun landed softly on her face.
I also couldn’t help noticing the serene look on her face as she took in that glass of red. I gathered every ounce of courage in that shadowy space next to Doosey’s Market, and as I started out into the light, I froze as the sight of Rory caught my eye. The guilt of disappointing her yet again washed over me.
There they sat together for what seemed like an eternity, the scene a cruel reminder of the bond they shared that I was never truly a part of. They giggled, and chatted, and though I couldn’t hear the conversation, I could see that Rory was happy, truly happy, for her Mom. Then as Rory picked up her phone momentarily, her face turned serious and the dark expression she’d possessed that day in my office returned. I saw her lip quiver a little and her eyes were misting up a little.
Then Lorelai’s peaceful expression turned to one of shock. What Rory said for Lor to react like that?
They’re conversation then looked like it was turning heated, before Rory abruptly stood up, throwing her hands up in what I believed to be frustration. Lorelai looked more than concerned as her gaze followed Rory away from the Gazebo, in my direction. I retreated deeper into the shadows. Rory was intensely fumbling with a set of keys, completely oblivious. I peered outwards and watched Rory discreetly wipe a tear away as she let herself into the Gazette office. When she disappeared inside, I shifted my gaze back to Lorelai and her she seemed a little smaller like a wounded bird.
Maybe now, I thought, is not the right time to surprise her, but in true Dead Poets Society fashion and against my better judgement I seized the day. I ignored the heaviness in my step and ploughed towards the Gazebo. I pasted a smile on my face and sorted through my vast array of cheery greetings, already deciding that my usually flirty lines were not the angle I should go for.
“I hope I’m not too early!” I called out and Lorelai paused mid sip of her wine, startled.
“Christopher! What the – Hi!” She smiled through the scrunched up expression that always revealed Lorelai was weirded out. “What are you doing here?”
“I heard there was a bit of a shindig going on here today and thought I’d come check it out!” I glanced around nervously.
“Oh! What a coinkydink! Me too! No seriously, Chris why are you here?” Lorelai’s smile instantly turned to a grimace and her glare burned into me. “I’m sorry I wasn’t sure an RSVP was required!”
“Well no, but Chris if Luke sees you….” I followed her worried gaze towards the diner where I noticed Caeser opening up for the day’s business.
“Really, today? Are you sure he squeeze in a quick exchange of vowels?”
“Don’t worry I won’t be sticking around. I just… had things I wanted to get off my chest,” I blurted, “before it’s too late.”
“Before it’s too late?” Lorelais attention snapped back to me. A wave of realisation crossed her face.“Wait, my mother put you up to this, didn’t she?” she spat, picking up the phone that was sitting between two bottles of wine. “God! That woman is deplorable!” she was already scrolling through her phone for Emily’s number.
“Lor! Lorelai!” I exclaimed, no longer caring about hiding my desperation. “Emily doesn’t know I’m here.”
Lorelai paused mid scroll. Putting her phone back down, she resumed glaring at me.
“Lor, I need to say this.” She crossed her arms, but remained silent, almost defeated. “Don’t marry him. I still love you. I never stopped.”
Lorelai’s jaw dropped a second time that morning. “And the hits just keep on coming.”
“Lot I’m sorry… for everything”
I moved to sit beside her, but she put her hand up to me. “No, Chris! No!” NO!” it was then I saw the ring on her third finger. “You’re too late. It’s done.”
I stuffed my hands in my pocket and hung my head, defeated. “Congratulations I guess…” We both remained silent for what felt like an eternity. “I guess I uh, better go.”
“Chris…” Lorelai’s face softened as she patted the space beside her on the gazebo step. “Stay.”

Parental Ponderings

I accepted Lorelai’s invitation to take up the space beside her on the gazebo step and for a moment neither of us spoke, as we watched the sleepy little town begin the day. A man was in the distance, walking up street towards Doosey’s Market. It was only as he neared his store I realised it was Taylor, the owner. He shot a disapproving look in our direction before disappearing inside the shop.
“I see not much changes around here,” I quipped.
“Oh the town’s gone full sewer!” Lorelai exclaimed. “Taylor decided septic tanks were beneath us!”
“Really? I never would’ve guessed,” I replied, the sarcasm dripped from my voice.
“He lobbied pretty hard for it.”
We returned to our silent thoughts. “You know, he produced a musical, recently about the town’s history. I was on the advisory committee.”
“Oh right, I remember you mentioning that – Stars Hollow. The Musical!!” I swept my hand across the air in front of my face as if it were the arm of a typewriter. “I’ll look forward to seeing that on Broadway.”
Lorelai scrunched up her face, “I wouldn’t go that far.”
“You hate it then?” I asked.
“I don’t love it, but… yeah I hate it. Yet strangely I’m the only one.”
“I can see that. It’s not like they have much to compare it to.”
Lorelai playfully slapped my arm, much like when we were kids… “Christopher Hayden!”
“You’re right,” I smiled, relaxing more. “That was mean.”
“So when did that happen?” I motioned to the impressive diamond cluster her hand, that sat snug next to a gold band with a snowflake pattern engraved around the band.
“Oh this?” She held her hand out staring at the rings. “Last night. It was bingo night. The Reverend is up awfully late on bingo night so…”
“So you and Luke kidnapped the Reverend and got yourselves hitched?” I finished.
Lorelai shrugged. “Something like that.”
Just then I heard tiny hoofsteps in the distance, and a high pitched squeal. No, that couldn’t be! I thought. Then I heard a familiar bellow break the morning silence. “Petal! Get back here! Petal!”
As we both turned towards the commotion, I caught sight of what I had originally thought it was and yet logic had dismissed. A small pig galloped up the middle of the road, followed by a frantic Kirk, the Town Freak.
“When did Kirk get a pig?” I asked.
“Oh the town chipped in. They heard Lulu talking of wanting a baby.” Lorelai explained. “It’s funny, Rory asked that same excellent question?”
I cringed at the mention of her name and then I remember my daughter’s strange demeanor in my office. “And how is our little Lois Lane going, I mean really going?” I asked. I figured if something was up, Lorelai would know. Being so freakishly close, I knew Rory shared everything with her mother.
“Oh you know, she’s Rory!” Lorelai answered a little too flippantly.
“Lor, is there something you’re not telling me?” I pressed.
“Well you know she wrote that New Yorker piece?”
“Oh that’s framed on my wall in my office.” I bragged. “Some very good writing wasted on the Nutty Naomi.”
“Oh you don’t know the half of it.” Lorelai went on to explain the book deal Rory was working on that had been dissolved as quick as it had started. She was especially animated when she reenacted the argument Rory had back and forth with the eccentric writer about whether she was the rabbit or the mouse or the whale. We both laughed, envisioning that scenario playing out. She went on to describe how Rory was Jack Kerouac, on the roading it and some bit about passing the peyote, to which she added that Rory was currently throwing up in Lorelai’s bathroom, taking turns with Kirk.
“So now Rory’s writing a book.” Lorelai finished.
“So I hear!” I blurted out before I could stop myself, which warranted the strange look from Lorelai burning into me. “Ok she came to see me.”
“When? What did she tell you”
I shook my head. “She was pretty vague. She mentioned the book and you getting married. You know she told me not to come, but I needed to talk to you.” Lorelai started backing away. “Look Lor, I’m concerned about her. You didn’t hear the questions she was asking about her growing up with you and why I stayed away.”
“Well you know the door to Rory was always open to you. You know I never kept her from you.”
“I know and I count that as one of my biggest regrets in my life. I should’ve tried harder with her but I thought we were okay and past all that, but the questions she was asking make me wonder if we even are okay, if she’s okay.”
Lorelai turned her face towards the Gazette office where she could see Rory behind her desk. She looked so small and innocent like she was 15 years old again, huddled over her desk and her face buried in the pages of a book. She was on the right track and we both knew that it was Lorelai who was responsible for keeping her on that track, so how had she derailed?
“Lor if there’s something I should know, tell me. Maybe I can help.”
“Buckle yourself in, its gonna be a bumpy ride. Chris, there’s no easy way to say this. You’re going to be a grandfather.”
“What?” I exclaimed. “Rory’s pregnant, with a baby? Okay who do I need to castrate?”
“That’s the weird part of this thing. We don’t know.” Lorelai shook her head. “She’s been seeing Logan again.”
I began cracking my knuckles. “That Huntzberger kid? He’s engaged though, to some French heiress. Gigi has all the newspaper articles and updates me every month with the news. They’re all over the French social pages.
“I know. Meanwhile he and Rory are… involved. You wouldn’t have guessed she already had a boyfriend, Pete… Patrick…”
“Paul? I met him awhile ago in Hartford at a little restaurant. Nice guy.”
“That’s him. Now they are officially broken up as of like five minutes ago.”
“But why?”
“It just didn’t fit I guess.” Lorelai answered.
“”Dirty!” Lorelai looked queasy at that thought. “Poor guy,” I shook my head. “I thought for sure he’d be the one.”
We sat again in silence both processing this latest news and I couldn’t help picturing us both as grandparents, happily doting on the child that beared a striking resemblance to Rory and… maybe Logan.
“So it could be Logan’s or Paul’s baby?” I asked.
“Most likely Logan I’m guessing, but if it comes out looking like Chewbacca I would be surprised.” I wasn’t sure if she was joking or not. Her face remained the same level of serious.
“Chewbacca? Why Chewbacca?” I asked.
“Well there was the thing in New York with a Wookie.”
Now I was beginning to question Lorelai’s sanity. I pointed to the glass. Lor, how many of those have you had?”
“Enough to sit here and be okay with the news that my daughter who’s broke and sleeping here than and everywhere and with… whoever is now carrying a child who’s father is god knows who, and my ex and father of my child has come to to confess his undying love for me, all of this on my wedding day!”
“Look, so long as you’re happy with… him, I mean truly happy without a doubt, then you’ll get no interference from me, I promise you. All I’ve ever wanted was your happiness. I just wish I’d been the one to be able to give you that.”
“Well that’s reassuring, I guess.” she shook her head. “So now not only do I have to cover up the fact that Luke and I are already married and carry on with the ceremony and the party because the town would die if they missed the hot dogs, don’t ask, I have to conceal the news that I’m going to be a grandmother until Rory is ready to start telling people.” Lorelai was rambling now, I new she only did that when she was nervous or upset.
“Now I know what Emily would’ve went through – Oh my god! My mother! How the hell am I going to break that news to her. She’ll find a way to blame me for sure.”
“Lor. I’m sorry I came here when I did, but I’m here now. I want to help! I’m Rory’s father! I have to help! What can I do, I have money, heaps of it! I can buy her a house or ten houses anywhere in the world! Just let me help Lor, please.”
Lorelai put her hand up. That’s for you and Rory to work out. I’m not going to figure her life out for her, that’s how Emily does things. She has to do this herself. I know she can.” I wondered if now she was reflecting on her own life at that point. “Afterall she’s a Gilmore. It’s what we do.”
The similarities between Lorelai and Rory were not lost on me and it was then that Rory’s questions made sense. They were not about our relationship. She was concerned with the kind of relationship her child would have with its father. I sighed with relief. “Rory’s going to be okay.” At that moment I saw that Rory was no longer behind the desk. I didn’t want her to see me. I stood abruptly “I have to go. Please, don’t tell Rory I was here.”
“Sure, okay,” Lorelai agreed, glancing at her watch. “I need to get to the Inn anyway before Rory, and Ms Celine will be wondering where I am and why my hair is not in curlers yet.” She gathered up her bottles, the now empty glass her phone and began to dash across the town square.
“Lor!” I called after her. She paused to look back at me. “ It was great seeing you again.”
“You too!” She replied quickly before continuing her dash through the town and out of sight.
Wow, I thought for a moment more, sitting back down, now alone on that step, watching out for Rory to appear. I’m going to be a grandfather. Rory appeared at the office door and appeared to be locking it. She looked frantically around and then proceeded to walk across the road towards the town square. I bowed my head in an attempt to be inconspicuous but it was too late.

Finding Closure

“You couldn’t stay away could you!” Rory’s blue eyes were flaming with anger. I felt myself shrinking under her glare. “You’re still waltzing back into mess things up for Mom and Luke. They’re finally happy. Why are you here?”
I tried to form words that would pass as an apology, but I knew she was right to be mad.
“We agreed you wouldn’t show up today, or did you forget that?”
“No kiddo, I didn’t. I know it was wrong to come here, but I just had to see her.”
“Why?” Rory asked.
“I -” I was struggling to form words. “I… because I still love her okay!”
Rory’s face softened and she sat next to me on the step.
“Dad you have to let her go! Don’t stuff this up for her. She loves Luke. They’re happy. They’re married, you know.”
I sighed. “I know. I’m not staying. I’ve already told her I will not try anymore to win her back.”
“I meant what I said Rory. I only want her to be happy, and she is so there’s no point…”
“I’m glad you finally see that.” Rarely did Rory use that tone on me but I knew I warranted it. “Dad, now that your here, I guess I should tell you some news.” She inhaled and then let out a loud weighted exhale. “I’m pregnant.”
Feigning surprise, I exclaimed, “oh wow, that’s great? Are you excited?”
I should’ve known Rory would not fall the act. “She told you didn’t she?”
“She?” I asked, stalling.
“Mom! God! I tell her something I don’t want the world to know and she just goes and blabs it anyone! I might as well print it in the Gazette now!”
“Now hang on,” I intercepted, this time not holding back on my thoughts. “I’m not just anyone. I’m your father! I have a right to know what’s going on with my daughter.”
“Convenient,” she muttered.
“Look! I know I wasn’t there a whole lot for you growing up and I’m sorry, but I’m doing my best here!” I pleaded. Rory took another weighted breath and violently wiped away the year that was escaping her eye. “I’m sorry” she said. “I guess I’ve been a little stressed lately.”
“Understandably,” I said “but Rory, no one can help if we don’t know what’s going on.”
“I don’t need your help. Mom raised me on her own, and she did okay. I can do this.”
I didn’t argue with her, I knew she was right, and I couldn’t help admiring my daughter for her courage. Still Lorelai had not been the only one to raise a child alone. Although she did spend time in paris, regularly, I had done a lot of the work to raise Gigi, and I still remember how tough that was at times. “You might be capable of raising that baby alone, you shouldn’t have to. I can help you. I know you need money, somewhere to live.”
“I guess I have to settle down somewhere don’t I.”
“Then consider it sorted. I’m buying you a house, anywhere you want to live.”
Rory shrugged. “I don’t know! Part of me wants to stay in New York! I love the city, but then I love Hartford too. Then I think the city is way to much hustle and bustle for a child growing up and I think of the amazing childhood I had right here in Stars Hollow. I want my child to have that. I don’t know. Do I have to decide this minute?”
“Take as long as you need. Make a pro con list. Mull it over with Lorelai. Whatever you need to do to decide. Just don’t shut your Mom out or me for that matter.” I said. “You might not think so now, but you’re gonna need us, more than you realise.”
Rory nodded “I know… Thanks.”
“Anytime, kiddo.”
“I better go check on Mom, make sure she’s not drinking styling mousse and styling her hair with Coffee.” We both laughed and said our goodbyes.
I pulled her into a long hug. “You’ll be fine kiddo.” I said before letting go. Then she hurried away in the direction of the inn and I took that as my cue, to leave this little snow globe town and all hope of winning Lorelai back again behind and go.