Preface: Home Again

As he pulled off the highway and onto the road towards Stars Hollow, Luke slowed the rental car and pushed the power buttons to lower the windows. The early morning rain had given way to a weak sunshine, and the air that rushed into the car was sweet and smelled of home. Five years since he'd been in Stars Hollow. Five years of the highest highs and the lowest lows, with most days somewhere in between. Now that he was almost there, it was hard to believe he had been away so long.

The rental car with automatic buttons, as well as his khaki pants with a button-down shirt, felt foreign to him in this place. But the smell of spring in the air, the turn in the road, the old Murphy farm on the right – this was home. Luke breathed in deeply and a sense of calm and contentment settled over him. Sleepy, crazy town that he had left only once in his life, with every intention of coming back sooner than five years.

He took a right instead of heading straight into town, to go past the old house. He slowed to a crawl. It looked okay. The lawn was recently mowed, the paint just a little faded. The sublease was coming due at the end of June, which was reason number 436 why he had finally come back. He thought about stopping but as a rush of memories flooded in, of his Mom and Dad and all of them together here in the early years, he wasn't sure he could handle getting out just yet.

Slowly he drove closer to the center of town. The church steeple came into view, then the gazebo. There was Doose's, and Miss Patty's. Kim's Antiques, that was new. Or at least less than five years old. Luke circled again, avoiding looking at what his heart most ached to see, until he turned around the green a second time.

It was still there, the sign. Williams Hardware. Even though he had stipulated in the lease agreement that it was not to be taken down, part of him had wondered and worried that somehow the town might have found a way around it, to get a new sign with a new name on it. He pulled up to the curb and parked. A True Value sign was affixed to the window of the front door, but Williams Hardware still stretched across the top. His father's store, his store, or maybe his something else, and maybe someday…

"Daddy?" Robbie's sleepy voice jerked him from his reverie. He looked back and smiled as his little boy rubbed his eyes and stretched his legs.

"Yeah buddy?"

"Are we there yet?"

"Yup, little guy. We're here. We're home."