It took me two weeks to get up the nerve to send Kristah a message online. I had found her on Facebook the same day but didn't want to seem too eager. It was difficult to wait that long, but it was the obligatory interval for avoiding the appearance of being a creepy stalker.
We had a brief chat in which I attempted my brand of sarcastic humor. I didn't get an LOL, but she didn't seem annoyed either. It was the kind of marginal success that I was willing to accept. After about a five minute chat, we put a pause on the conversation and didn't return to it for a few days. Once again, I didn't want to seem desperately needy, so I left her alone.
Consequently, Friday found me in a positive mood. Tom, who I had spent most of my days with for at least a year, was spending more time with his girlfriend. This meant I was spending more time with myself. I would take long drives down lonely country roads, eat at my favorite fried chicken place, and eventually wind up at the theater. Being single, enamored with movies, and having disposable income was a formula for binge-watching. There were times when I'd see two movies at the theater in one night. Of course, I'd pay for both tickets; I'm not a movie villain. I would also go back to view the same movie a second or third time if it was particularly good.
I'd rarely check what was playing before making my way to the theater, assuming that there was almost always something I could stand to watch. On that particular Friday, there was nothing new that had been released, and I had seen every film that I was interested in. The only thing I hadn't seen was a movie called Twilight. All I knew about it was that it was a vampire love story targeted at teenage girls. The cast was headed by heartthrobs such as Robert Pattinson, Jackson Rathbone, Taylor Lautner, and Kellan Lutz. These exceedingly handsome young men left pubescent girls screaming in theaters throughout the country. I had no idea of the phenomenon that was Twilight. The critics hadn't liked it and you had to forfeit every modicum of masculine dignity to admit you'd watched it, but that was fine. I was bored and wanted to escape my loneliness for a few hours. I had no idea what was in store.
Twilight changed my life. Regardless of whether or not you like the movie, and I did a lot, it touched on something deep. Sure, there were chick flick themes. There were cheesy parts. Some of the acting was underwhelming. Despite all this, the closing scene left me in this haze of metaphysical longing. Bella and Edward are dancing under the amber glow of their prom night lighting. She wants to be changed into a vampire so that she can be with him forever. She loves him so much that she can't imagine living another day without him. It's a beautiful scene.
I left the theater in a mystical daze. I stood for a very long time in front of the movie poster in the hallway. I'm sure those passing by thought I had experienced a stroke for the long paralysis I seemed to be experiencing. I didn't care what anyone else thought; I was deep in an ethereal trance. I had experienced something. I had been moved. I felt emotion like I hadn't felt in a very long time. I felt what Bella felt. I wanted what she wanted. I don't mean I wanted a pale teen-aged vampire who looked like an underwear model to bite me, but essentially I wanted the same things. I wanted something to care about. I wanted something worth giving my life for. I wanted to be so passionate about something—anything—that it would be worth trading in my ever-loving mortality.
“I wish eternity could feel like that,” I whispered. Only the poster could hear me.
"Wait," I said, now fully talking to myself in the hall of the theater. "It will be." The realization smashed into me like a tsunami. Though it was hard to imagine, eternity would be like that, and better. All the dreariness and mundane effect that had overtaken the church and my faith-life was only a cloud surrounding that which was truly marvelous. Behind the ritual and beyond the ineffectual malaise that had draped itself like a rain-soaked blanket over the world of mortal men and women, there was something deeper and more powerful.
As I scanned the poster, calm on my visible exterior, a gushing wind rose inside my heart. Whatever emotion, passion, or longing that a movie like Twilight produced could only be a thin reflection of the divine experience. For a fleeting moment, I had been touched by something that left an echo ringing in the eternal cavernous depths of my hallow soul. In those brief moments, as I admired the movie poster, the everlasting portion of my spirit cried out. The deep called out to that which is deeper. It was Twilight, of all things, that reminded me what I couldn't stand to live without. Beyond the surface desires, I wanted eternity; I wanted forever. I wanted to be home, finally resting in that grand country beyond the dark sea of confusion and bewilderment. I longed to see what was behind the veil. I wanted the real to reveal itself to my longing soul.
That night I went home and bought the remaining three books in the Twilight series and began to devour them. At certain scenes in the books, I literally shouted aloud at the characters as I read. I went to see Twilight in the theater two more times before its theatrical run was concluded. I didn’t miss an opening weekend of the remaining four movies in the series.
The target market for the Twilight series was teenage girls. I was a twenty-five-year-old single man. Addicted wouldn't be a word too strong for how I felt about this piece of fiction. It's for this reason that I did not share my strange infatuation for the story with other adults. Though, it resonated so deeply with me that I had to force myself to stop reading the books for periods long enough to eat, sleep, and do my job.
Twilight had become an anthem for the longing that sat unrequited in the root of my Spirit. I knew that there was something deep and powerful in the Christian experience, but it had somehow escaped my every attempt to capture it. Like vapor in a birdcage, I could never keep the esoteric essence of my faith within the boundaries of my passion for more than a moment at a time. I wanted it back. I wanted to feel a craving for eternity. What Bella felt for Edward, I wanted to feel for heaven, for Christ, and my faith.