On October 5, 2000, I decided to sit down and watch the pilot of a show I had seen promoted by the then-WB. What seemed to be a lighthearted show about two raven-haired, sapphire-eyed beauties would turn out to be a gift to me… something that has grounded me, comforted me and inspired me in so many big and small ways over the past 15 years. I clung to it while going through some pretty tough emotional times. I named my daughter after these characters that I would be honored for her to emulate. And I spent way too much time trying to figure out how to afford the plastic surgery that would make me look like Lauren Graham.
That show is and always will be… Gilmore girls.
And this past weekend, I had the incredible pleasure of experiencing a true once-in-a-lifetime event. Nineteen year old Bear would never have thought in a million years that I would be in the audience at the Fifteenth Anniversary Gilmore girls Reunion at the ATX Festival in fun and quirky (and hot as hell) Austin, TX.
So much of the experience I tried not to document as I wanted to be here now. These four days were for me. I could say that I was one of only 1200 people that got to experience this live… who got to sit in the room as Amy Sherman-Palladino scolded Liz Torres “Sit down right now, young lady”. Or as Lauren Graham dabbed her flawless face with a tissue the instant Edward Herrmann’s name came up (“He is our president”). Or when Amy Sherman-Palladino (again) scolded Scott Patterson for rekindling rumors of a movie that I’m sure she’s never been able to fully escape since she left the show after season 6.
But you better believe I documented the HELL out of the people I ran into. Beginning with Sutton Foster (Michelle Simms of Bunheads) just happening to hop in our elevator on our way back to the lobby. This would be a sign of things to come.
Followed up by a photo with the kind yet absolutely regal Kelly Bishop (Emily Gilmore/Fanny Flowers/Baby's Mom).
And then Liz Torres (Miss Patty) introduces me by my full name to her manager (what up, Jerry!) and declares it “a movie star name”.
Then I see Jackson Douglas as I’m waiting in line for the “Cancelled Too Soon” Bunheads panel.
[this is probably where I should say “and the list goes on and on” and just stop outlining each encounter. But that ain’t happening here. I’ve been waiting 15 years for these moments… so you’re all just going to sit there and listen to each and every one of them. Go get a snack and a water. You'll need to stay hydrated.]
Then my friend casually saunters over as I’m waiting for the Hep Alien reunion to begin (you know, as you do) and buries the lead when she FINALLY tells me “oh yeah, by the way… Amy Sherman-Palladino is over there”. So I booked it over to her as fast as I could without looking like a total lunatic. And I got to tell her that I named my daughter Lorelai… and the look of genuine surprise and excitement on her face will always remain with me.
My queen... I would follow thee anywhere. And apparently "anywhere" is Texas.
Then I joked with Daniel Palladino about feeling and looking like wilted lettuce in this brutal Austin heat.
Hep Alien played a concert for us (in character), including a rock version of “Where You Lead”… as I sat 5 feet from Lane’s drums, and another 5 feet from Helen Pai, Sutton Foster and AS-P rocking’ out. It will bring me great comfort in my final hours that I’m in the background of MANY of AS-P’s photos of that event.
Todd Lowe (Zack Van Gerbig) granted us a kind, if somewhat sticky, photo with him as he ordered Maker’s Mark.
Followed instantly by John Cabrera (Brian Fuller) using his extra-long arms to get a selfie with my phone that included both myself, my friend Elizabeth (same chick who just barely remembered to inform me that AS-P was nearby... she's lucky she's cute) and one perfect Keiko Agena (Lane Kim).
Then as my friends (we called ourselves “The 6 am Crowd” ) waited for 5 hours in line for 7 of 40 available seats at the Coffee with Amy Sherman-Palladino panel, Scott Patterson (Luke Danes) came downstairs from his room and this was really the only time chaos ensued throughout the entire festival. And I have the crappy photo of him and my friends to prove it! But later on into the festival I got a much better one with him. And he had a hat on. Luke needs his baseball hat!
I was one of 10 people at the Coffee with AS-P panel that had the distinct privilege of asking Her Highness a question (I used my Starbucks cup to attract her attention. I know who I’m dealing with here, people). And that’s how I learned that her favorite authors are Dorothy Parker (“But she didn’t write nearly enough… IF YOU’D HAVE JUST STOPPED DRINKING FOR ONE WEEK!”) and Jane Austen (the first comic writer for women).
Then the moment I dreaded but knew would happen. I called Yanic Truesdale “Michel” as I was so eager to get a pic with him. I apologized profusely and told him “I’m such an asshole”. And he laughed. And I still skulked away wanting to jump off the top of the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel. But damn, is Michel FIIIIIIIIIIINE! Damn it, I meant Yanic! Whatever, that spinning stuff really does a body good!
Then, the big event! The reunion… where 2 girls passed out from what I’m assuming was a combination of heat exhaustion and being in close proximity to Lauren Graham. ATX staff handed out Pop-Tarts in celebration of our two favorite junk food junkies. And water… because again, we were in Austin, TX in June (although the Gilmore girls drink about as much water voluntarily as I do. Answer: none). Even the perfect Matt Czuchry (Logan Huntzberger) had sweat stains down to the waist of his pants. That made me feel better about my life. Luckily he was fresh as a daisy the next morning when I got to snap a pic with him in the lobby. Too bad I hadn’t even bothered to dry my hair that day because… what’s the point?
I see you back there, Megan #2!
Lauren, naturally, went unseen except for the reunion itself. Liza Weil (Paris Geller) and Danny Strong (Doyle McMasters) were seen many times running through the lobby but were constantly being shuttled from press interview to press interview. I only glimpsed the back of Alexis Bledel’s head as she hopped into a shuttle to sweep her off to the airport. I never got to catch site of Milo Ventimiglia (Jess Mariano) or Jared Padalecki (but he’s old hat for me by now). And that’s okay, because…
Liza Weil... on the move! Again!
While I didn’t realize it before this experience, AS-P was my biggest “get”. She was the one where I sent the resulting photo to a friend and she instantly started crying for me.
But the best part of this event was definitely the people… the other fans. I made an incredible group of friends very early into the week and we watched out for each other, took photos for each other, made sure each of us got opportunities to meet the people we most wanted to meet, got metaphorically "Totsied"by a stage 4 clinger, hung out from 5am-10am at the very front of the Coffee with AS-P line (with Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s real life mom. Yes, McLovin’s mom was one of our partners in crime. More proof of how surreal and weird these few days were), and, most importantly, sweated our asses off outside The Paramount Theater as we waited to get into the reunion. But none of my The 6am Crowd passed out… because we’re hardcore. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, BABY!
Outside of my awesome little group, the rest of the fans were just as excited to speak to each other as they were to speak to any of the cast members. They were just so eager to discuss this television show that has meant so much to them with other people who got it completely. As my friend texted me, “I feel like you’ve found your people and you are never coming back”.
Where they led, I did follow.
[And a very special, heartfelt thank you to the two amazing women who created the ATX Festival and all of their fearless staff. Especially Willita. Willita was a fucking dynamo! The 6am Crowd loves you, Willita!]