Part 1: Rory leaves Washington
January 20, 2017 – Rory Gilmore leaned back in her chair and looked out over the sea of cubicles below her on the bottom floor of the Washington Post building. She couldn’t believe that today was her last day as a White House press corp member. It seemed like just yesterday she was hopping on a bus in Stars Hollow to follow the future president of the United States across the country as he campaigned first for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination, then as a candidate for President.
The eight years following the election had been a whirlwind – an unexpected job offer from the Post following the 2008 election put her directly in the White House press room covering everything from Heath Care reform, re-election campaigning, the Benghazi scandal, and monumental events in President and Mrs. Obama’s personal and political lives. It had been both exhausting and exhilarating and Rory was a bit sad that this chapter in her life was about to close.
The clock hit noon and with one last look around the newsroom, she scooped up her notebook, pen and tape recorder off her desk, straightened her skirt and flipped the light off. There was one final assignment left in Washington before heading home to Stars Hollow for the wedding.
Glancing out the window of the cab that was taking her to Capitol Hill, Rory could see a light snow was falling all over Washington D.C. Traffic was bad as millions of people were gathering at the nation’s capitol to witness a historic event – Barak Obama, the country’s first African American President was passing the torch to Elizabeth Walker, the first woman elected President of the United States.
The cab driver let her off about a half mile from the press area and she hurriedly bypassed all the onlookers to get to the roped off seating area marked “Press.” After flashing her Washington Post credentials, Rory found her assigned seat, took out her notebook and camera and prepared to cover her final story for the Post.
“Rory! Rory Gilmore!” A familiar voice was shouting her name. Rory looked up from her notes to see Doyle McMaster taking a seat next to her.
“Doyle! I didn’t know you were going to be here!”
Doyle was a long-time friend of Rory’s from Yale and had served as editor of the Yale Daily News. After Doyle married Paris Geller, one of Rory’s best friends, the McMaster-Geller family set off for Africa when Paris accepted a position with Doctors without Borders. During that time, Doyle worked as an embedded reporter, covering political unrest in Kenya for an online news blog. Once Paris finished her stint in Doctors without Borders, the couple bought a house in New York City, where Doyle got a job as a reporter for the New York Times and Paris settled in as a physician at the CDC’s New York office.
“It was a last minute assignment. One of the reporters from the Times got sick and couldn’t make it, so they sent me instead.”
“Good call,” said Rory. “So is Paris on her way to Stars Hollow?”
“She left this morning,” said Doyle. “Should be arriving in town any time now. I’m heading up there as soon as the inauguration is over and my story is submitted.”
“Me too,” said Rory. “I think Grandma is a little miffed that I’m missing Friday night dinner tonight, but I told her it’s not every day that I get to cover the first female President of the United States taking the Oath of office.”
“True,” said Doyle. “But you know Emily Gilmore better than anyone. Not even a Presidential excuse is good enough to get you out of Friday night dinner.”
Rory started to agree with Doyle, but was cut off by the United States Marine Corp band playing “Hail to the Chief.” Everyone stood as former Presidents, dignitaries, President Obama and incoming President Walker made their way to the inaugural stage.
The next hour was a blur and Rory’s hands nearly froze as she jotted down notes from each part of the ceremony. Carrie Underwood sang the national anthem. A girls choir belted out America the Beautiful. Prayers, an invocation and slew of other performances followed. The torch was passed to President Walker and Rory’s final snapshot of the day was a moving image of President Obama, First Lady Michelle, Sasha and Malia climbing the stairs to Marine One and waving to America one last time as the first family.
On the hour long cab ride back to her apartment, she crunched out her final story for the Post. It had been a good eight years writing about the campaigns and two Presidential terms – it was going to be tough to leave it behind, but bigger and better things were looming on the horizon.
The cab dropped her off at the tiny apartment she had called home for the past eight years. Today was her last day living here too. She hurried up the stone steps to the red front door, let herself in and grabbed her last bag of belongings from the empty bedroom. A small cloud of dust stirred, reflected in the sunlight streaming in through the window. Rory pulled the curtains closed, locked the front door and dropped her key off at the office downstairs.
Her tiny Prius, a college graduation present from Richard and Emily Gilmore, was parked out front. Rory threw her bag in the backseat and pulled her smart phone from her purse. She hadn’t checked it since before the inauguration and the screen was filled with notifications.
One missed call from her mother. An e-mail from her editor confirming her story submission. Several comments and likes on the Facebook status she posted about covering the inauguration. A text from Dean.
Her first love. The boy she said “thank you” to after their first kiss, then had proceeded to run out of Doosee’s Market clutching a box of cornstarch that she did not pay for. The boy who built her a car for her sixteenth birthday present, and then later on became her “first” in another way.
Rory twisted the 1 carat diamond engagement ring on her left hand. So much was about to change in her life in the next two weeks. She decided to call her mother back on the drive to Conneticut – she’d deal with everyone else once she arrived back in Stars Hollow, but for the next six hours, it was just her and the road.