RORY: I cut school and I got on a bus and I don’t even know why I did it. I . . . I have no excuse. I was just standing outside of Chilton, and I don’t know, I must have had a stroke or something.
When Lorelai gets home from Hartford, she finds Rory already home and sitting on the porch waiting for her, in an echo of how she found Dean sitting miserably on the porch waiting for Rory at the end of “Back in the Saddle”.
Rory must have taken a bus straight back to Stars Hollow when she arrived in Hartford, rather than going to the college and risking missing Lorelai. It’s probably around 9.30 pm when Lorelai gets home, and who knows how long Rory has been waiting?
Lorelai goes from “worried mom” mode into “hurt mom” mode as soon as she makes sure that Rory is safe and that nothing terrible has happened to anyone else. She listens in shock as she hears Rory tell her that on a day that was very important to Lorelai, Rory decided on a whim to cut school and go to New York.
It isn’t Rory’s fault that there was an accident on the interstate, and the mistake with the bus schedule is fairly understandable. Any other Thursday, Rory could have got home hours late and pleaded some school activity keeping her, and Lorelai would have accepted it. But she had to pick the one Thursday to go to New York when her mother needed her to be there to help celebrate Lorelai’s achievement. It’s an act of monumental thoughtlessness and selfishness.
In an extra-cruel twist to Rory’s (self-inflicted) misfortunes, she is so tired and eager to get off the bus that she accidentally leaves the Go-Go’s album behind that she bought as a graduation present for Lorelai. There cannot be even one positive thing to come out of her trip to New York!