I Spent the Weekend in Stars Hollow & the 'Gilmore Girls' Town Restored My Soul

Stars Hollow welcome sign

Even as a Gilmore Girls fan, I spent many years questioning why anyone would continue to live in Stars Hollow long after it was necessary. Yes, there are the colorful characters that we know and love. But still, the idea of having a cup of coffee at Luke's Diner every morning wasn't enough of a reason for me. Well, that was until I spent the entire weekend in the real Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Yep, for three whole days I lived like Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, so much so that I couldn't even bring myself to refer to the town as anything other than Stars Hollow.

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You see, for an entire weekend, Washington Depot (the idyllic Connecticut town that gave Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino inspiration for the show) was transformed into the Stars Hollow of our dreams ... and being there to take part in the Gilmore Girls Fan Festival was by far the most refreshing experience that I've had in a while.

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On my journey into town from New York City, as I made my way through tunnels and tunnels of trees sporadically coated in rusted blood-orange leaves, I felt myself able to breathe for what felt like the first time in a long time. The air was fresh and seemed to awaken my other senses. I was able to take in the gorgeous scenery and the empty, silent roads. I just relaxed. (I didn't stay at the inn that inspired the Independence, but just imagining a night there gave me sweet dreams.)

the may flower in from the gilmore girls

Everything had significantly slowed down. There weren't sirens screaming through the streets. The people stopped to greet you and they didn't just do so in passing -- they took time to look at you and hold a meaningful conversation. In the beginning I found myself still wiggling around as people spoke to me. Out of habit, I was prepared to do a stop-and-roll type of greeting, carrying on with whatever I was doing after waving hello. But, eventually I came down off my big-city high horse and became part of this community that inspired both the show and those there, like me, to celebrate it and all its glory.

My strides became smaller, my speech became slower, and my patience stretched further. I found myself embracing unexpected circumstances like the downpour of rain without cursing at the sky, even as I realized my hair was in a major danger zone. 

Because none of that mattered in Stars Hollow. Even in the midst of hundreds of strangers, we were one big family -- from the townspeople who were helping to support the event to the fans who came from as far as Italy to bond over our love for the Gilmore girls. 

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We had great debates about Rory's love life, sang "Where You Lead" as a tribe in almost perfect harmony, and unconsciously abandoned our normal diets to eat pop-tarts Megpies (homemade pop-tarts) and pizza and sip gin martinis (in true Gilmore fashion) all day. 

This weekend went beyond embracing my fandom for a show -- it rejuvenated my spirit and my being. This weekend was the therapeutic trip that I'd unknowingly been craving. It was a welcome change to hear my thoughts, to genuinely be happy (with no regard for how much I ate), and to escape the constant barrage of news. I was content with going to bed early and waking up even earlier. I was OK with treading through the cold to watch people furiously knit during events like the knit-a-thon or to stuff my face with cake samples. 

Because really, none of that matters when you're in Stars Hollow. This town (because the lines between the real Washington Depot and the fictional Stars Hollow really do seem to blur) only asks for you to come as you are -- and for this weekend, at least, that simply meant bundled up, friendly, and ready to eat like a Gilmore. (For real. Look, that's me at the faux Luke's Diner.)

Luke's diner setup

It was all about showing up for your community (or community of mega fans) when it mattered the most. That's what I realized as I cried real tears with people I had just met and probably would never see again. It's what I realized as I sat at the dinner table and casually chatted with some of the cast. Yes, Keiko Agena, Sean Gunn, and Vanessa Marano were there among fans -- and their uber down-to-earth attitude let me know that this world was greater than a role they played. They were who they portrayed. They were Stars Hollow. 

There wasn't this superficial air that hovered above you -- not while you were among the genuine people of Stars Hollow.

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So, while the people there weren't quite as colorful (ahem, hilariously insane) as Cat Kirk, they were undoubtedly colorful and undoubtedly cool. The people of Washington Depot are really and truly Stars Hollow. They welcomed us, their fans, into their town and allowed us to live as genuinely as a Gilmore would. Because of this wonderful experience with these wonderful people, I came back to New York looking great and feeling even better.

And, of course, more excited for November 25 than evvvver!


Image via Patrick Ecclesine/Warner Bros./Getty Images

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