There seem to be fewer in-person interactions these days, but screens provide a great way for families to keep in touch, especially if they’re living in different states.
We’ve got text messages and Facetime on cellphones, Skype on laptops and whatever Google Glass does.
For me, family time comes with a subscription that costs less than $10 a month. That’s right, TV-and-movie-streaming giant Netflix has become my way of catching up with family. Kind of.
Let me explain.
I’m the daughter to a pair of great parents, and the twin to my complete opposite and soul sister. Divorce split up that former pair, so I’ve lived a lot of my life in groups of three: Hannah, Mom, me; Hannah, Dad, me.
Before my move to New Jersey, before any of my full-time jobs or college, I lived in upstate New York near Albany mainly with my mom and Hannah. The trio of girls bonded. Spring cleaning to the sounds of Van Morrison’s “Moondance.” Fantasizing about our alley-like kitchen transforming into the spacious one used by Food Network’s Ina Garten.
Then there’s “Gilmore Girls.”
If you’re not familiar with the WB series, it follows single mom Lorelai and her daughter, Ivy League- and journalism-pursuing Rory. Rory’s best friend Lane is a secret rocker girl and a bit of a black sheep. All three go through their own transformations. Aging, best friends and ex-friends. Boyfriends and lost loves. All veiled in bright, sarcastic inside jokes.
Another trio: Lorelai, Lane, Rory. Our relationship with the TV family was born.
We’d watch as many episodes of “Gilmore Girls” as we could, and the DVD sets became must-buy gifts for Mothers Day.
The show seeped into important pieces of our lives. We compared our own boyfriends to those on the show. I always had the nice Dean-esque guys, while my mom could never find her own Luke.
I moved out of the house first, heading to Syracuse University a few weeks before my sister pursued her own college dreams closer to home. We brought the portable DVD player and started the series from the beginning while my mom drove her red Jeep packed with shower shoes, new books. No new mattress, though.
We cried in the car. I’m tearing up thinking about it now.
As a surprise for my graduation four years later, Hannah and mom bought Syracuse orange T-shirts with printed lyrics from the show’s theme song. Tears again, but happy ones.
These days, I’m a six-hour drive from my mom’s Rexford home in front of the apple orchard. But I have “Gilmore Girls.”
When work seems to push on all sides, when there’s not enough time in the day, or just when I need a pick-me-up, I’ll power up Netflix and the Carole King theme song starts. I know it by heart, now.
“If you’re out on the road, feeling lonely and so cold. All you have to do is call my name and I’ll be there, on the next train.”
A funny episode will prompt me to text Hannah. A reflective one makes me pick up the phone to call mom. All communications end the same way: “Love you.”
It’ll be a while until I see Hannah and mom — and my dad, though he’s not a Gilmore girl — but I can still see a little bit of home from far away.