Author’s note: As much as I adore travel and sharing my stories with you, I am not traveling during this very real COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that you will travel vicariously along with me until the day that we can all safely satiate our wanderlust. Please keep yourself and others safe by making appropriate sacrifices for the greater good.

I had just moved myself to Indiana for a new job. Indiana sure was different from the South. Everywhere I looked I saw cornfields. Sometimes it seemed that the cornfields were surrounding me like mazes, and I thought that someday, I might find myself encapsulated in corn. Little did I know how true that just might come to be ... at twilight ... one autumn evening.

I’d been wanting to see “Eat Pray Love” for quite some time. A coworker had invited me to have dinner with her since I didn’t know anyone in Cornville (name changed) and I had gladly accepted as I was anxious to make new friends.

For the life of me, I cannot remember this girl’s name now. Sadness. Mama Laws was right when she said to write everything down. We’ll just call her Tiffany.

We dined at Chipotle and then headed over to the cineplex, joyously awaiting the journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia without ever leaving Indiana. I love alliteration. However, when we arrived at the movie theater, we noticed it was up for sale. Yes. The theater no longer existed. It was but a mere memory. Shucks. (Pun intended.) Well, what were we to do? That’s right. We checked Tiffany’s phone and saw that despite the fact that “Eat Pray Love” was playing nowhere else that evening, “Eclipse” sure was. Yessss.

Allow me to explain my “Twilight Saga” obsession. It began in 2010, in Washington D.C. when I was visiting a friend and she told me that I should read “Twilight.” I told her that I did not really want to read it. I was very reluctant because I had just completed my student teaching in December, and every fifteen year old girl at the high school was constantly talking about Edward and Jacob. All. The. Time. It rapidly frayed my already raw nerves while trying to teach French grammar, and I refused to read it.

I finally caved in D.C. Well, it didn’t take me long at all to be “bitten.” I became obsessed with all things “Twilight” related. The venom had spread.

This lasted well into the mid-2010s. Once, at Mr. K’s, I was innocently shopping in the teen vampire section (Stop judging) when I heard a male voice behind me say “Oh, that’s a great book!” I turned around, smiled, and said “Oh, this one?” pointing to the random vampire book I had selected from the shelf. “No,” he replied, pointing at “New Moon.” Skeptically, I said, “You like ‘The Twilight Saga?’ Most guys I know chastise me for reading these.” His face turned to stone and he replied, “I’m being sarcastic. I hate everything to do with that series.” Shrugging, I said “Oh, I figured,” and turned around.

Did he stop there? Oh, no. He did not. “You’re one of those girls, aren’t you? My girlfriend dumped me over those books. She said she needed a guy who was more like Edward Cullen.” Laughing out loud, I said “I’m sorry.” He started in again angrily. At this point, I had had quite enough of this person’s histrionics.

”Well, you know,” I interrupted, “Every guy could be a little more like Edward.” He glared at me and could think of nothing else to say. Before he could attempt a retort, I said “And you have a very merry Christmas.” He turned around and hissed “You have a happy holiday” and walked away. Strange.

A book store employee that I knew had overheard the conversation and raised his eyebrows at me as I walked over to say hello.

”I was minding my own business and that boy accosted me and started criticizing ‘Twilight!’” I said in a defensively whiny, schoolgirl tone.

”Uh-oh,” he responded with subtext that said “Don’t mess with a Twihard.”

The obsession had pretty much died off for a few years until this summer when I decided to re-read the Saga. COVID-19 has inspired me to revisit all kinds of comforting books from the past. Then, I discovered Stephenie Meyer was releasing “Midnight Sun” in August, which is “Twilight” told from Edward’s perspective. Meyer had posted a portion of her unfinished novel online in 2008 because someone scandalously leaked it. Rude. I did not think she would ever finish it, and yet ... here it is. I immediately ordered the book. So, I’m back on Team Edward again. “It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to me now.” Sing it, Celine.

Back in Indiana, Tiffany looked at me and said “Well, I haven’t seen that yet! But wait, haven’t you seen it twice or something already?”

I smiled sheepishly, responding “Three times, actually, but that’s irrelevant. I’d love to see it again!”

Thus began our trek to a town called Plainfield (name unchanged).

It was about a thirty minute drive. En route to the cineplex, we saw numerous cornfields. Suddenly, we came upon a random, but extremely nice shopping area. There was a Walmart in the midst of the corn. Go figure. Tiffany decided that now was the ideal time to purchase some tissue since she was out at home, and we decided to stop there to kill time before the movie.

We proceeded to hit a large pot hole, nearly ripping the bottom out of her Cavalier. We then noticed that the entire parking lot had caved in just a few feet ahead. No, Reader, I’m not kidding. This wasn’t looking good. However, pilgrim-like, Tiffany proceeded to go in and purchase the direly needed item. At least I didn’t have to carry a tagine through Paris.

Finally, it was time for the movie! After the movie, we decided to head back. Merrily, we began our journey from Plainfield back to Cornfield. It was quite dark and almost 11 p.m.

After about twenty minutes, Tiffany noticed that her GPS was no longer functioning. I noticed that the cornfields seemed to be getting thicker and thicker, and the roads were becoming more winding and dirt-like. After fifteen more minutes, it was clear that we were lost and there was little hope of finding civilization. A pick-up truck began to bear down on the tail-end of Tiffany’s Cavalier. Becoming more and more angry, the truck proceeded to pass on a tiny, winding two-lane, nearly running us into a cornfield. This must be what it’s like to live inside Rod Serling’s mind.

At this point, I was beginning to panic a bit as we journeyed further and further into the corn. Have you ever seen a film where happy things happen in the corn? Where the peasants burst into a flashmob musical number? No. No, you haven’t.

I was having those exact thoughts when Tiffany decided to tell me a story about a night when she and her boyfriend were lost in the cornfields on the way back from a concert, and a group of teenagers emerged from the corn, standing in front of their car in a line and staring them down until they turned their car around. Oh, that was helpful! What a truly appropriate story to tell me at that precise moment. Filter, people. Filter.

Finally, we reached some type of civilization after another hour or so, and Tiffany’s boyfriend (via cell phone) seemed to know where we were and directed us out of Fright Night. Did I mention we were about fifty miles off course and had absolutely no idea how we ended up there?

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension. A dimension of sight. A dimension of sound. A dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of shadow and substance. Of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into ... the Twilight Zone.” And Edward Cullen is nowhere to be found.

Amy Laws has lived on three continents, in four states and has traveled to eight countries — and counting! A fluent French-speaker, her wanderlust keeps her traveling, but her roots have brought her back to Greeneville, Tenn.

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