If I met Kristen Stewart I would want her to think I was cool and chill and fine to casually make out with, but would do nothing in service of presenting this image to her. I would breathe noisy weezes through my nose for fear of sinking into excited mouth breathing. I would ask her where she buys her jeans. If I met Kristen Stewart I would tell her that The Twilight Saga was a bizarrely but inescapably important foundational text for nearly all of the academic work I would do in the years following its release. I’d want to talk about how accidentally subversive it was for a Mormon stay-at-home-mom who thinks that teenage girls who drive big red trucks in the mid aughts would wear a skirt that is “long, khaki, still casual” to meet their boyfriend’s parents could have written a series of books literally and explicitly about a young woman who wants to have sex so badly that she is happily prepared to die for it. I’d unfurl a scroll of thoughts and feelings about Bella Swan that reaches all the way to the doorsteps of my friends in California, and I think she would get it. Kristen Stewart gets Bella. She always understood Bella, and so I would tell her that I was Feminist Bella Swan for Halloween last year, a costume replete with a “Team Bella” tanktop, scuffed Doc Martens, a blood splattered copy of Wuthering Heights. I’d tell her, “like, obviously not to conflate sexuality and politics entirely but the original concept was… Lesbian Bella.” I would whisper this bit conspiratorially, if only for the chance to lean in close enough to know what her hair smells like so I could tell all my friends later. If I met Kristen Stewart I would make everything so weird so fast that she wouldn’t even blink when I started talking about “Flightless Bird, American Mouth.”
I’ve cried in the fetal position on the floor of a communal shower while “Naked As We Came” buzzed weakly from where I’d left my phone propped by the sinks, but that was just a weird Wednesday, and rerecording “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” especially for Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 is still the only thing Iron & Wine have ever done that matters. I love telling people that Iron & Wine rerecorded “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” especially for Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 so much that I would probably do so even if it weren’t true. It is, though. In the first Twilight film, Edward and Bella dance together at the prom while the song plays. In Breaking Dawn Pt. 1, Edward and Bella dance together at their wedding while the special “wedding version” of the song plays. America is the best, most stupid stoned idea anybody’s ever had.
The first Twilight book was published ten years ago yesterday. That’s scary. I was thirteen. Not at first, but over the next years, we read them in shared sacred circles on the field hockey team. ”You have to read it. You have to.” Everybody half embarrassed but everybody tucking the next tattered installment into their backpack anyway — huddled by the lockers in the morning in clouds of Bath and Body Works — only to pull it out again when World Religions got boring. Everybody’s book borrowed and buried in somebody else’s bed covers. Texting on a Sunday night, like, “wait… do you have eclipse??? I need it!” Twilight was its own moment and it mattered. That doesn’t shame or bother me, but it was then and remains today, funny and strange and dear to think about. These are not good books but I loved to love them when we loved them and love to love what I remember of what it was like, then, that loving, together, and all this before the movies even happened. When I moved into my first college dorm, I was mortified by and unforgiving about the huge Twilight poster my roommate had emblazoned across the wall above her bed, because in my shrewdly discerning seventeen year old eyes the moment for that sort of behavior had long past, goodbye to all that, speak of it only half drunk in whispers in booths over plates of fries, but I’m kinder now. I would be kinder now. Well, maybe. I don’t know. I mean, it was a Jacob poster. Honestly.
Now, in 2015, Stephenie Meyer, hilariously, has written and released what basically amounts to genderbent fan fiction of her own novel, which I judge as well within her rights, considering that E.L. James has made a fortune on her blatant Twilight Saga ripoff that stripped everything worthwhile from the original work and replaced it with white wine, Wrangler jeans, and a really gross misunderstanding of BDSM. A wise woman I am lucky to know pointed out that if a man rewrote his bestselling novel and released it again, the lit world would call it avant garde, and of course that’s true. An arguably even wiser woman said she can’t wait to drop everything for the sake of writing heady slash fic about the romance between Bella and Edythe, the girl version of Edward from the new book, Life and Death : Twilight Reimagined, and of course that’s beautiful. It has been quite a day; I wonder what Kristen thinks.
I would not expect Kristen Stewart to slow dance with me to “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” because slow dancing makes me anxious. When we were already a bottle and a half (red, obviously. And it would be a joke about blood, but I wouldn’t say so out loud) deep, I’d just put it on, like nothing, like anything, make eye contact, sit down. I would only smile a tiny bit, but I do admit that I imagine we would both be wearing Converse sneakers, like Bella wore to prom. She would get it, of course, and make a small laugh sound, slightly choked, but more devious than anything. She’d say, “Oh, fuck off, “ or something in that vein that I would find myself hopelessly lovestruck by, stuffed with shapeless teenage ardor all the way up past my chin, and so I would stand up. If I met Kristen Stewart, I would stand up wine drunk and stretch out my arms, swaying, play-dancing like a small Cinderella in her bedroom in overlong cartoon pajamas pretending for her prince, only I’d be the stuffy old vampire, and I’d be waiting, plainly, openly, for something else, because when I said would not expect Kristen Stewart to slow dance with me to “Flightless Bird, American Mouth,” all I really meant is that I am very tall and would not expect her to lead.