As I sit and write this article, it is a Friday night. Unlike some of my 21 year old peer counterparts, I am not working at my part-time job, I am not flashing my ID in exchange for assorted alcoholic beverages, and I am not cuddling up to and against my significant other. Why not?
First, I miraculously have the weekend off. Second, I am far too lazy to leave the covers and mattress I have my butt settled into to go grab a microbrew. And third, I no longer have a significant other.
In late August, the man I had planned on spending the rest of my life with, my fiancé of almost five months and significant other of two and a half years, broke up with me. In a single moment, my life caved in. My home that was flooded with orange, red, and fuchsia flowers, my living room that had no living room due to the 31 centerpieces spread out in every crevice: it all seemed like the furthest thing from my home, what was supposed to be my shelter.
My plans for looking for apartments and jobs in one single area, the area my new former fiancé selected for us to settle in, immediately ceased. I had a plan for after graduation, but it was a plan that revolved around a life I had made and built with him.
With all of these things considered, you’d think I’d be on an all Ben and Jerry’s diet in my sweatpants. But I’m not. So, if I am not working, drinking, spooning or cuddling, or mourning, what am I doing?
Ten years ago this month, Stephanie Meyers published the first novel in her young adult vampire series—my apologies, vampire saga. I was only 11 years old when Twilight came into the lives of millions upon millions of people—and now, at my ripe 21 years, I find myself yet again cracking open the busted binding of my copy.
No, this action of re-re-re-reading Twilight was not some resentful case of turning to the only love interest—the dreamy, sparkly Edward Cullen—who never let me down because, as all of our young school selves can acknowledge, Edward did in fact let me down for entire book, for entire New Moon. In fact, this action is the most independent decision and choice I have made in almost two and a half years.
In the course of my relationship, my ex always made one thing clear: he hated Twilight and everything it stood for. He hated the characters and their development, or in his opinion, lack thereof; he hated the plot line, and worst of all, he hated that it was followed by three more books. When I first discovered his thoughts, I humored him by semi-agreeing that the writing was less than what would be expected of Charlotte Bronte while also urging him to consider the fact that Twilight was a young adult novel, not a Nobel Peace Prize winning work of philosophy. But each of my double-edge sword attempts were shattered every time. My fight for defending Twilight continued on strongly at first, but soon, just like a child being trained by the word “no,” it was easier to agree with his thoughts than to fight for what I actually believed.
Inconsequential as it may seem, this was the beginning of me not losing but rather giving up and relinquishing my independence, my independence in thought and my independence in myself as a person.
Next, I changed my career plans. In my high school years, it had always been a fact that I wanted to attend law school, but when I began dating my ex, for some reason, I felt the need to settle on my goals and my dreams by sacrificing both my formal education as well as my continual drive to enhance my intelligence simply because being potentially married to a teacher would inhibit my ability to pay for such.
Then, I began changing my ideals on weddings and kids and Facebook and Apple products; soon, I let my strong feelings towards and for them collapse for the appeasement of him.
In the time before my ex, I loved going to the movies alone, visiting coffee shops with merely a book as an acquaintance, and going for a good workout. In the course of the two and a half years I was with him, I can name on one hand the times I continued with these activities, and in those years, I feared any time that I would be forced to be alone, maybe because the alone time would ultimately bring forth the unhappiness I was truly feeling but hid within. I descended my unique, quirky fashions, hobbies, and antics because saying “at least I am normal” to myself made this unhappiness subside slightly some more.
On the night that my relationship finally came to an end, that fear of being alone spiked to new levels. For the following week, I shared a bed with my mom and my dog and clung to my best friend in between classes and any other opportunity I could simply to avoid this fear of being alone with my thoughts and myself. I did not know who I was any longer, and trying to figure that out made my mind even more confused, my heart even more weaker, and myself even more drained and depressed.
Two weeks after my break-up, I awoke as I usually did for my Monday morning class. As stared into my mirror, I saw the sunlight from my window catch the shine and sparkle from a bracelet on my dresser projecting the prism onto my ghost-like skin. It was the bracelet I bought the summer prior to my 8th grade year. On it was the charm of an apple, a wolf, and a crystal—it was a Twilight themed bracelet, surprise surprise. As I stared at it, I could not help but chuckle, for one, at the thought of how much my ex hated it and how he would have urged me to not wear it, and two, at the fact that I still loved it. Though I hesitated for a moment, I swiftly grabbed the bracelet thinking to myself I am going to be the old Alivia again. Placing this bracelet on my wrist—that was the first act of getting my independence and sense of self back. The moment the charms clinked together and brushed my skin, I felt a sense of history and renewal—I felt like my old, quirky, independent self again but this time on a new journey.
The first time I read Twilight, I laughed at the inner monologues of Bella and cried at the thought of how much Edward loved her. When I read the story in high school, I laughed and cried again—this time, I laughed at how ridiculous it was that I was once so invested in Bella and Edward (Bedward) and cried at how much I still loved it.
Which leads me to now, sitting alone with my laptop ajar and my worn-with-love copy on my bed—as I read the story through this time around, I laughed at the memories of obsessively gabbing over the plot at lunch room tables, I cried at the relatable heartbreak between Bella and myself, but most importantly, I smiled throughout each chapter, each page, and each word because for the first time in such a very, very long time, I was happy.
From a small town in Illinois, Alivia Hatten is a college senior in her final semester and finds it quite strange to be writing in the third person, but it’s whatevs. When she is not attending classes or contemplating life and feminist ideas, she enjoys DIY and various crochet projects while watching Netflix with her shih tzu Charlie.
[Image via Universal Pictures]