Fandom is really everywhere. I’ve often said that I feel sorry for people who really aren’t fans of anything, because there is a lot of joy there that they’re missing. I never realized though, that I might find a perfect example of fandom within a novel. My oldest – Heather – is almost 16, and I’m finding the time that she will be here with me at home on a fairly regular basis growing shorter and shorter. I try to enjoy the moments I have with her, because I have done my best (and will continue) to make sure that she is ready to leave the nest when the time comes. I raised her knowing that eventually, she would go out into the world and take it all by storm. That is why, when something came along that interested both of us in a unique way – I was most surprised, and still very thankful. Back when she was about ten, her cousin told her about a book that she really needed to read. At that time, the rule in our house was simply that I needed to know what she was reading. They had reading programs at school then, and I had to sign for any book she read anyway, so this rule was fairly simple to enforce. When she came to me about reading Twilight, I hedged a little, simply because it wasn’t a book I was familiar with, and the topic seemed a little mature for a ten year old. So I told her that we’d buy it, but I had to read it first. This was the ONE time I went to the effort to actually read an entire book before I would allow her to do so, but the idea of a vampire based novel made me a little nervous. Call me conservative, but I wanted to know what my daughter would be getting into. So we bought the book and I read it over the course of a day. (I’m a fast reader.) I knew Heather would love the book, and to be honest, I kind of liked it too. I found myself buying the rest of the series, reading each book before I handed it off to Heather, including the unpublished, leaked final novel for Midnight Sun. (which any fan would know to be Twilight from Edward’s point-of-view) Of course it wasn’t the most critically acclaimed piece of literature I’ve read. Naturally it was juvenile in spots, fairy-tale like in others. Yes, I was indeed concerned about the controlling nature of the male lead character. All of that said, I thought I could use the book as a tool. I could see the teen years on the horizon at the time, and the book gave us something to talk about and ponder, all the while I used some of the topics as teaching moments. What I found was that while both of us enjoyed the books, we were both firmly set in reality. She knew that no real boyfriends acted the way Edward might, and I knew that my Heather was certainly no Bella Swan. (thankfully)
We had long since finished the series when it was announced that Twilight would become a movie, but the news caught our interest. We agreed that when it came out, we would go together as a mother/daughter date night, and we looked forward to the tidbits of news, the trailers, even hearing the soundtrack for the first time. We talked about whether the actors chosen for the roles fit the pictures we had in our imaginations while reading, and we wondered if the movie would do the book justice. The night that we finally went to see the movie, we stood in line amongst a lot of what would be come to known as “Twi-hards”. There were t-shirts, there was makeup, and there was screaming. Yes, screaming. Two poor security guards came up to the front of the theater before the movie began, pleading with the girls to stay in their seats and not scream when the movie started. I would have sworn I was at a concert, except I was not – and there were no actors coming on stage. No, these girls were going to be reacting to what was on a large screen. I sat back, completely fascinated at the scene unfolding in front of me. Thankfully Heather was not one of the screamers. As I’ve mentioned before, she has gone with me to Duran shows before and has watched, completely mesmerized, as she saw women more than twice her age become completely unhinged at the site of the band on stage (she had better not say that her mom was one of them. I. am. NOT.) This was definitely a similar scene. She sat back and watched the insanity around us, and when the movie began, she and I laughed at some of the sillier moments, commented on some really bad visual effects, and then tore the movie apart bit by bit on the way home. Then we bought the DVD when it came out, and couldn’t wait for the other movies to be made.
We went to each movie in turn, and admittedly as time wore on and she grew up a bit, we might not have gone to each movie right as it opened. The production of the movies seemed to improve with each release, however – and given that a new director did each movie (as opposed to the director doing the entire saga), there was always a sense of surprise with how certain elements from the book were interpreted for screen. We tended to do more eye-rolling as we saw the change from the actors being completely unknown to full-fledged Hollywood Stars, and naturally any time we would see an article about the movies or about the stars, we would take the time to comment to one another about whatever we had seen or read.
Truthfully, both Heather and I had been wary of what Breaking Dawn would bring. Neither of us felt confident that the movie would be able to capture the book well, and as a result – we waited for months before going to see the movie in a theater. We were pleasantly surprised, and it made the anticipation for the final movie. We had planned to go and see it on opening night at the first midnight showing, and in fact had seen that several theaters in our area were going to do a marathon – beginning with Twilight, they would go through the entire series, ending with Breaking Dawn Part 2. Both of us wanted to go to the marathon – we thought it would be a fun way to end the series. Unfortunately, our plans changed when we realized we had a funeral to be at last week, and while both of us were disappointed, we agreed to go while Heather was on Thanksgiving break, so last night was the night.
Heather has a boyfriend, and I had given her the option of inviting the poor kid to go with us to see the movie. I figured she’d jump at the possibility, as I might have when I was a teen. Oddly enough, she told me that she really wanted to finish the series as we’d started – it was “our” thing, and she wanted to share the final movie with me, her mom. (Clearly I have done something right so far. If I could bottle that and sell it, I would.) So off to the movie we went.
I realized something as we sat there waiting for the film to start – this was our last time. After this movie, the “thing” that got us through Heather’s teen years (at least the early ones) would end. I tried not to feel too melancholy, and instead tried to enjoy the moments I had left. The movie began not too surprisingly (but with a much improved production than the first movie), until about two-thirds of the way through the movie when there was a clear deviation from the novel. I won’t give it away except to say that for about five minutes, I was furious. I looked over at Heather and she too was furious. “How could they do that to the book?!? Are they really going to end it like this?? Why even effing watch – I am SO DONE” (Ok, so that last sentence was mine…) But just as suddenly, the joke was on the audience, and the ending we knew to be from the book unfolded, and there it was, wrapped up with a bow. The saga ended.
We came away from the movie feeling both elated at having seen the entire series through, and sad that this “thing” that was ours to share had ended. We walked to the car, marveling over the moments that threatened to have US screaming at the scene (although we were not the only ones loudly protesting some of the more upsetting changes), and laughing over our silliness. It was not completely lost on me that some of what I’d felt (if not ALL of what I’d felt) that night, as well as over the course of the entire Twilight saga, was as close to anything I’d felt as a fan of Duran Duran. Bizarre.
I am lucky to have Heather as a daughter, and I am thankful that I was able to share a tiny bit of fandom with her. No, it wasn’t quite as exciting as seeing Dom Brown, John Taylor, Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor on stage for me…but it bonded Heather and I, if only for brief fleeting moments during some of the more “trying” years of her childhood. I’m lucky.