AN: Thank you so much for your reviews and encouragement. It's a pleasure to write to such an engaged readership.
I'm trying out something - taking each chapter by one character or one couple at the time, I'm not sure how it's going to go. But we'll see. Today is G's turn to start.
May 28th, 2021
"Everyone gather on the stairs for pictures before you go to your families!" the upper school principal called out, in the hopes for the photographer to get at least one picture of all the graduates together before they scattered each to their own direction, as they'd just finished the ceremony in the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine. The religious affiliation of the school G had been attending had never really been her thing, but she'd somehow managed through the two years she was there to get by with the minimum and treated it as a cultural experience. The ceremony had been modest, surprisingly enough actually taken place live, though with a limited number of tested and masked guests.
But there she now stood, in her black polyester cap and gown, showing proudly off her Sophia Webster Nicco ankle strap heels. There hadn't exactly been much reason to dress up in the past months, so she was taking the moment for everything she got, but still she couldn't help but to feel like the rest of her classmates were making a much bigger deal of the event than she was. To her this was not some big sentimental end, it was just another administrative stage to get her properly immatriculated in college, where she'd felt like she'd been already in her mind for the past 9 months.
The graduates threw their caps in the air for another shot.
"Just one more, guys!" the photographer urged.
God, it was hot - and all G really wanted to do was get out of her stuffy gown.
"That's it. If anyone wants buddy-photos then come and find me," the photographer continued.
Her friends, who'd been all standing by her side didn't really care much for that, instead they snapped a selfie and asked Rosalie, Philipa's sister, to snap a couple of the four of them goofing off.
She hugged her friends goodbye, already seeing her mother and father standing under a tree by the street, maintaining cold 5 ft distance from each other. G really didn't know what or how much they talked these days. But since they were in fact both there, as Rory was following the event from home due to the guest restriction, it was already a moment of significance.
"Hey kiddo!" Christopher said, opening his arms in hopes for a hug. He had in fact made it a point to come to see G more, when he could, since Rory had reprimanded him for not being around enough to even know his child had been going to therapy. He'd never really gotten to know why, not in detail at least. But that was his loss - G didn't need him to know.
G hugged her father.
"Mon chéri," Sherry said, holding her tightly, a bouquet of flowers in her hands. Her mother still looked great in a mini - another set of good genes in the family - the poppy-patterned puff-sleeve dress showing a much happier side of her she hadn't really seen in a while. They'd gotten over their radio silence within a few months after Sherry left Remi, but with some topics still remaining too painful to talk about. But G, now that she'd been going to therapy and taking some behavioral sciences classes herself at NYU, she was recognizing and appreciating the signs of both of her parents trying.
Sherry wiped away the couple of sentimental tears that had formed in her eyes and finally handed G the bouquet of pale pink roses and white hydrangeas that were surrounded by succulents.
G gave the bouquet back to her mother to hold for a second, desperately needing to get out of her gown.
"Ugh, it's suffocatingly hot in this," G grumbled, exposing her modest, but tiny, sleeveless boat-neck black mini dress.
"So how does it feel?" Christopher asked, feeling slightly uncomfortable seeing her baby girl dressed very much like a woman. But that's what it was - he'd missed the majority of her teenage years, the parties she'd gone to when she could, wearing much less than this, not having a chance to discourage any of it.
"Huh, hot..," G joked smilingly, feeling relieved. "But I'm glad it's over, finally," she added. Studying mostly from home really hadn't been much fun, so with the lack of a social life what she'd mostly done with her time was study more.
"We've got a table at the Castell," Christopher said, referring to a rooftop tapas place in the Garment district.
"Great, I'm parched and starving," G admitted, and accepted her mother's stainless steel water bottle for the time being.
They made their way over to Christopher's Mercedes S-class with a driver he had waiting.
"You're coming too, right?" G asked her mother, seeing her hesitate a little.
"Of course, come, please" Christopher asked, smiling friendlily to Sherry. While things had been frozen between them for years, they'd barely spoken to each other, not about anything really, it was a moment to celebrate despite those things. Their little girl was all grown up.
"Thanks," Sherry said in a whisper to Christopher as she slipped into the back seat, next to G, but the hesitance in her voice didn't quite miss G's ears.
"So, what do you feel like?" Christopher asked G, as they finally took their seats at the rooftop restaurant, surrounded by lush shrubs, twenty minutes later.
"Honestly?" G said, looking over the drink's list. "Champagne?" she asked, biting her lip, deciding to give it a try if her father would go for it. Her parents were hardly oblivious to the fact that she'd had alcohol before.
Christopher only chuckled at that slightly, until he called the waitress over.
"A citrus frizz, and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow," Christopher said, checking whether Sherry had any objections, leaving G stare at him with some disappointment. The three continued to order some appetizers for the table and some salads, none of them feeling like having something heavy.
"Oh, god, I'm so proud of you," Sherry said, feeling like she needed to hug her daughter once again.
"I can't believe that Christina Garner, or whatever her name was, took valedictorian over you," Christopher felt like objecting.
"She was way more studious than me, she got it fair and square. I wasn't really trying for it," G admitted. She wasn't really even second in line, but she humored him - clearly her father still believed a lot of things about her that weren't really very close to reality.
"Still..," Christopher commented. "Shit," he said, hearing his phone ring, and glanced at it. "I'm so sorry, I got to take this, I'll be just a few minutes," he apologized, and stood up to find a quieter place to speak.
"I'm glad you could come," G said to her mother. She hadn't seen her since that Christmas holiday she'd spent with her and Remi, but she knew her mother had come a long way since then.
"I am too," Sherry said, and hugged G once more. It hadn't been easy getting there - for a lot of reasons, the main one actually being for Sherry the cost of the plane tickets as she'd insisted on paying for them herself not asking Rory or Celeste or Christopher for help even though G had offered. She'd been handling Celeste's estates, renting them out, and that was what paid for her own more humble accommodations at both cities and her travel between cities and provided her with enought to pay the rest of her bills. She also worked part time for a small ceramics gallery in Nice, helping the owner with organizing events and keeping the place open during tourist season. It wasn't easy to save up with something like that, but that was the type of place she could work in at the time - not wanting to be doing anything too far from her range of experiences and not too prominent so she'd run into Remi at work. The Aubertin stamped reference, which Celeste had organized her, had helped a lot, but her confidence was still non existent when it came to really making something of herself.
They talked a little about Sherry's life in France, and while G didn't really know the undertones of her confidence issues or how little money she was actually making, she was still happy for her to be doing everything on her own.
"So what's next?" Sherry asked, seeing Christopher return with an apology.
"Yeah - you told me you got into Columbia, NYU and Princeton, right?" Christopher listed.
"And Sarah Lawrence," Sherry added.
"And I'm waitlisted at Berkeley, but that was just a whim, I'm not really wanting to move all the way over there," G added, making Sherry sigh form relief.
"And any decisions yet?" Christopher asked, impatiently.
Before G had a chance to reply, their drinks were brought to the table, followed by the tray of crostini with ricotta and fig, mini lobster rolls and a wild mushroom flatbread.
They watched as the waiter filled the two glasses with champagne, leaving the bottle in the ice bucket on their table.
"Well?" Christopher didn't let on, wanting a real answer on his former question.
Sherry was waiting expectantly too. While her daughter had discussed some of her reasons for applying to those colleges, she didn't know the final choice either.
"I think I'm going stick with NYU. I still have a few weeks to reconsider. Columbia is my second option," G explained.
"Can I ask why?" Christopher inquired, not wanting to sound disappointed. He wasn't - it was just surprising - the girl could have her pick of the Ivy league. But then again knowing G was very different from Rory when it came to her academic drive, perhaps he shouldn't have been that surprised.
"Well, I already have some classes done there, which means I can do the accelerated study programme. It's mostly online these days anyways. And they do have some really cool research topics there which I might be able to work with during my studies," G explained. It was a decision of convenience as much as drive to learn. She hadn't seen anything to tell her to go somewhere else, so she was going there. And again - as if in a hurry to grow up - she just wanted to rush through college within three years instead of four.
"Wow," Christopher exhaled, not sure what to think of her plan.
"You know college is just as much about the experience as the classes right?" Sherry felt she needed to remind her daughter.
"Well - I'm not sure there's a lot of student life to speak of right now, not in the beginning at least," G commented. She, like most of her classmates, was rather pessimistic on the outlook of college life. It came down to practicalities such as not having to live in a dorm, not that she would either way, in case there was another lockdown or having a well thought out online learning environment, having lecturers who weren't afraid of technology and a certain flexibility which NYU seemed to offer. She wasn't doing this to get her degree at the top college to flaunt around with, she was doing it to learn and figure things out, to figure out what exactly she wanted to do with that knowledge and skills that she acquired.
"I guess there is not," Sherry replied, sounding a little disappointed her daughter wasn't going to get that kind of experience, thinking back to her own college days.
"And since you didn't want a car, or an apartment for graduation… what I did was I changed the conditions on your trust fund a little," Christopher said, surprising Sherry. It definitely wasn't putting Sherry in the best position, not having anything as grand to offer in that moment in her life.
"Wow, dad, you didn't have to do that," G replied. She already had a place at Rory's and with the Huntzbergers away in North Connecticut half of the time these days, she pretty much had the townhouse to herself, seeing no need for larger or more lavish accommodations. Driving didn't really have an appeal in Manhattan either, and while she'd rented a car a couple of times to drive to visit Rory and the kids, she didn't see much point in owning one, much rather preferring to take her bike when the weather allowed it.
"So you're getting a quarter of it now, another quarter when you turn 21 and then the rest at 25," Christopher explained, adding, "I'll still pay for college, that's done. Grad school too if that's what you want."
"Thank you, dad" G said. While most teens would've jumped from joy - this essentially meant that while she was still going to college, she wouldn't really have to work a day in her life if she didn't want to. But this actually felt like added pressure of having to figure out how to handle that money and to figure all that out now. But this was her dad - always giving her a little more independence than she was really asking for.
"You know I'm not in the position to offer you anything as lavish right now," Sherry began, feeling a little embarrassed.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to…," Christopher said, realizing what it must've sounded like to Sherry.
"It's fine, you've been great. I don't know what I would've done without your support….," Sherry said to Christopher. She'd accepted it, but still it stung a little, what she, once a successful business woman had been diminished to.
"What I meant to say is... that I want to give you this," Sherry said, and fished out a delicate Satoir type gold necklace with a little pearl hanging in the end. "It was my grandmother's," she added, feeling the sentimental lump form in her throat again.
"Wow, it's gorgeous, thank you," G replied. She'd seen and admired this necklace since she was a kid, but had never really been allowed to play with it. She hugged her again, sensing her mother needed some emotional support.
Having gathered herself, they started passing around the small plates on the table, getting ready to dig in.
"Here," Christopher said and did a quick switch of the glasses, taking the identical glass containing the citrus frizz to himself, and raised the glass. "To Georgia, G, always Gigi to me," he said, smiling broadly, "for graduating and going to college - for being brave, independent and resilient - we couldn't be more proud," he said, and they clinked the glasses together.
Her parents weren't perfect, they'd never been that. But they were there now. More importantly, however, what the past years had taught G was that she was fine even if they weren't.
June 16th, 2024
"Excuse me, miss," a gentle voice woke G through her sleepy haze.
"Yeah?" she stirred, lifting herself in her lounge seat, seeing it was the flight attendant that was waking her.
"Would you like some breakfast before we land?" the blonde and petite flight attendant asked.
"Um… coffee and have you got any smoothies?" G quickly gathered herself and asked.
"We have Nu-smoothies, strawberry banana and banana-pineapple-coconut," she listed.
"The pineapple one is fine," G replied. "Do you have any warm towels?" she asked, feeling like she could use something to freshen herself up.
"I'll get it for you, miss," the flight attendant replied.
The plane was still surprisingly quiet, most of the kids still fast asleep. She could already see in the front Logan with his noise cancelling earphones on, going over some document on his tablet, being the early morning type of person like he was, and to her right, across the aisle, Leo was also beginning to wake.
G peeked the window shade, casting a strong ray of sunlight right onto Lorelai's face. The sun was just rising.
"What? Where?" Lorelai mumbled through her sleep, sounding grumpy and turned the other side, continuing to sleep. G lowered the shade a little, knowing Lorelai was better given her sleep.
"Here you go miss, I'll be right back with your drinks," the flight attendant returned with a moist warm towel.
G felt much better after having used the towel, the moisture on her skin accompanied by the cool AC waking her up.
She got her drinks soon after, the flight attendant letting Jess pass her on his way to the front lavatory, casting a flirty glance at his direction. G couldn't blame her really - Jess still looked very fine for a 40-year old, but he'd never really been her type to think of him like that. G saw a hint of flirt in the smile Jess cast back at the flight attendant, but she knew Celeste was pretty relaxed about things like that if it was just that.
G sipped her coffee and greeted the people around her that were beginning to wake as well, some beginning to move around and get their breakfasts just like she had a few minutes ago.
"G, can I come to your lap?" Emma asked from the row behind her.
"Sure, honey," G replied, put her coffee cup away and went over to unstrap her seat belt for her. "Come on," and urged her to come join her on her seat instead. Leigh was still fast asleep. Emma tended to be a little grumpy in the mornings and just wanted to linger in bed with someone or snuggle, and right now G was closer than Rory.
With the almost-5-year-old in her lap, her knees pulled up onto G's lap as well, she continued to drink her coffee and talk gently to Emma about what Nice was going to be like. She'd been there 7-8 years ago with her mother, and she did truly love the place.
G also wondered, how she was going to tell her mother that she wanted to help her out financially by getting her a house in Nice which she could both live in and rent out the rest of the house for income. She didn't want her to depend on her part time jobs or anyone else's charity. It had taken her two years to figure out what she wanted to do with her trust fund, and now with the second part having kicked in, that was her plan within these two months that she was going to spend there - other than laying by the pool of course.