Sunday, November 18, 2012

My 'Twilight' Story

Is it too late to share Halloween pictures....?

    Here is my pumpkin. He is happy to be a pumpkin that finally has a face. For a brief period of his life he can see and smell and breath in the fresh air! After carving him, he only lasted a couple of days before growing mold. This is one of the consequences of living in the perpetually damp Pacific Northwest.

  Roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious  I made these with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder. I cooked them on 300 degrees for 40 minutes or so... but it is good to check the oven frequently to make sure they are roasting properly.  Pumpkin carving season is over, but most edible squashes provide seeds that are easy to roast too. I recently used the same ingredients to roast acorn squash seeds. They are good on salads are just as a snack.

   This weekend I went to see the movie Cloud Atlas with a group of friends. I use to be in a sci-fi/fantasy book club and one of the books we read was Cloud Atlas. So some of the current and ex-book club members and I watched the movie together. It was difficult to find a movie theater that was showing Cloud Atlas during the weekend because every theater instead was inundated with constant showings of the Twilight movie. This bombardment of Twilight showings reminded me that I have my very own Twilight story to share.
  It happened about five years ago. Twilight was on the brink of becoming a household name but was still unfamiliar to me. At the time I was a slightly out of touch with pop-culture mid-twenty-something. Not the core demographic, but close enough that I had already had a brief run in with Twilight chatter. I vaguely remember my friend asking me if I had read the book, but I thought she was talking about a different vampire book that I had read as a kid. This other vampire book was about a group of kids summering at a vacation home with their parents. The kids discovered their babysitter was a vampire. I think his name was Vinny the Vampire. The children were alarmed by this discovery, but even more alarmed when Vinny the Vampire started dating their older sister. I am unsure why the older sister wasn't babysitting her kid siblings. Judging by her choice in boyfriends, she may not  have been the most responsible of older sisters. I remember wondering why my friend was gushing over this kids book that I didn't remember being all that good. But after this conversation, I promptly forgot all mention of Twilight.
   Several months later, my boyfriend David and I decided that we missed nature and it was time to take a trip to the mountains and the sea. We headed to the beautiful Olympic Peninsula. First we drove to the mountains. We drove up rain coated roads that were lined with pine trees. After following the winding roads to the mountain top, we visited the ranger station to get suggestions on which hiking trail we should take. David and I walked into the small stations and begin looking at the exhibit when I noticed a familiar face. the ranger was someone David and I went to college with! We went to college in Northern California, not Washington, so running into an old college peer was definitely an exciting coincidence. The ranger was not someone that I was friends with in college, but familiar enough that I was certain he was indeed who I thought and not just a look-alike. We were in the dorms at the same time so we recognized each other from the strange insular world that is created in college dorms, although I think the ranger thought my name was Amanda. We chit-chatted briefly and talked about the oddness of running into a familiar face in a strange local. He gave David and I a hiking trail recommendation and we were on our way. We walked along a trail that curled past evergreen trees full of pine cones and the refreshing scent of moss and pine. The green meadows were scattered both with purple wildflowers and chunks of remaining winter snow. From the mountain edge we could see miles of forest fading away under the fog covering. It was a beautiful hike! It was the type of hike that makes a person introspective about life, circumstance and coincidence which just made the rarity of running into a familiar face on a mountain seem even stranger and more amazing.
   After our mountain adventure, it was time to visit the ocean. The ocean is one of my favorite places to be. Whenever pressed to name my spirit animal, I usually choose a sea otter because of my love for water and the ocean specifically. The mountain and the ocean were not very far apart. Both were on the Olympic Peninsula so it was only going to be a couple of hours of travel from one place to the next. We were driving along, maybe singing along to the radio, maybe playing twenty questions or some other road trip game, when we saw a familiar figure hitchhiking on the side of the road. It was our ranger friend! He was holding a sign that said 'Forks.' Forks wasn't where we were heading, but a slight diversion to help our ranger friend was well worth it. So we stopped and picked him up. We laughed about how odd it was to run into each other again.
   Our ranger friend told us about his reasons for hitchhiking to Forks. It is something he does every weekend to visit his girlfriend. His girlfriend is also a park ranger but her job is in the Forks area so they cannot live together, but they can visit each other. So every weekend he hitchhikes so he can see her. I found this story very endearing and more romantic than Bella and Edwards love story which often boarders on creepy (Yes, I read the Twilight books so I know). Our ranger friend has a very romantic lifestyle in general. He spends his work week wandering the woods and educating amateur naturalists and nature enthusiasts  But once the weekend arrives, he throws caution to the wind and hitches a ride with whichever stranger is willing to pick him up. I imagine him with an array of interesting characters telling the ranger their life stories as they drive down the rain drenched highway. Constant hitchhiking is bound to put him in an uncomfortable situation every once in a while. Maybe a sinister truck driver who tells stories about his prison days. Maybe a loner in a beat up car running away from her past. But it is all worth it to see his girlfriend  Someone should write a book about these two!
  When we got to Forks we dropped our ranger friend at his girlfriends house. The town looked like an unimpressive small town.  I remember that the town seemed empty except for the high school. The town seemed to be gathered at the high school field. In my memory, the crowd was watching a rodeo. But I know this must be prejudiced small town stereotyping influencing my memory. After we drop the ranger off we drive away and I don't think of Forks again. That is, until maybe two months later when I see an article in the Seattle Times.
  The articles headline is something like 'Teenage Girls from Around the World Flock to Forks Washington!!!" This is when I officially learn about the Twilight Phenomenon. Unbeknownst to me, there was a whole subculture of Twilight fanatics trying to bring the book to life by going on Twilight tours in the town where the book takes place. My favorite part of the article was a photograph of an Australian dad and daughter pictured the beach where Bella and Jacob had their bonfire. It was just so sweet that the dad would go all the way to Forks just because his daughter loved the Twilight books. I'm sure the dad would have preferred going to different places on his United States trip. The things our parents do for us! I think the Twilight craze is finally petering out, but that is the story of how I first heard of the wildly loved franchise of Twilight.


Optimistic Existentialist said...

I may watch the movies someday, even though they're not my typical genre. I am quite curious to see what all the hype is about.

Also, roasted pumpkin seeds are DA BOMB!! I had them for the first time about 3 weeks ago and I am now hooked.

Amber said...

Yes, I don't remember having roasted pumpkin seeds until I was an adult too... but now I love them!