Passing the table of TEAM EDWARD and TEAM JACOB T-shirts, I turned to my friend. “Looks like we’re in for a treat,” I laughed, thinking it was kind of ridiculous for two single, 30-something women to be spending a Saturday night seeing “New Moon.”
“We sure are,” she said with a wink. Having read the entire series, she’d begged me to come see it with her despite my complete skepticism.We walked into the crowded movie theater, 20 minutes early mind you, and it was already full of giggling, screaming teenagers. We sat down in the front—the only seats left—and settled in, removing our coats, scarves and gloves, hoping to escape the realities of our lives. Hers: a broken engagement. Mine: a brutal breakup. The lights eventually dimmed, the previews played and, bam, we were transported to a darkly lit world amidst Redwoods and Cliffside choppy waters, where vampires glistened in the sun, and certain boys turned into werewolves when they reached puberty.
I was in. Totally hooked.
The energy in the room pulsed. It felt like being body smashed in a crowd of early Beatles fans. Fine, maybe the girls weren’t ripping out their hair or fainting, but when Jacob took off his shirt, man oh man, the girls went bananas, as did my friend, who whispered in my ear, “This is total teenage porn!”
She had a point. He was crazy hot. But I was struck by something else.
These two men, Edward and Jacob, both loved Bella. They loved her so much that they were willing to do anything to protect her, even if that meant leaving her when they didn’t want to leave her, even if that meant hurting her when they didn’t want to hurt her. Edward pretended he didn’t love her and moved to Rio because he was so afraid his family was going to eat her. And Jacob, upon becoming a werewolf, stopped calling her back, blowing her off completely, not wanting to rip her face off in a moment of uncontrolled rage. Here were these two young guys, who were man enough to walk away because they thought they weren’t good for her. They thought she’d be better off without them.
And here I was, a 37-year old woman, who at this point in her life had never known what it was like to be truly protected by a man. I had been with one who punched me in the stomach during a fight and another who stayed with me for five years knowing I wanted to get married and that he didn’t want to marry me. Neither of them manned up and bowed out when they should have.
“Poor Bella,” my friend said out loud, after Jacob left her standing in the rain.
“But they love her. They’re both protecting her,” I said, having just had an Oprah ah-ha moment.
She smiled at me, and said, “You’re right! You’re totally right.” Then she added, with a reassuring tap on the knee, “Someone will love you like that one day.”
A couple of weeks later, a man, who I had been friends with for over six months admitted to having feelings for me. And when I thought more about it, I realized the feelings were mutual. He said, “I need to make sure I’m the right partner for you though. You’re so glowy and bright. I know I’m not as bright as you are and I would never want to dim your light.”
I swooned. Finally, a man, who thought about my potential happiness, who wanted to be what I needed, someone who would be willing to walk away if he thought he might hurt me. I immediately thought of Edward and Jacob and their love for Bella. Granted, she wasn’t at risk for having her light dimmed—she’s a pretty dark girl—but her life was most certainly at stake and they both knew it.
The next day, I met a friend for breakfast and told her how happy I was, how I had never met or dated a man who considered my needs in this way.
“What are you talking about?!” she asked, horrified, as if I were missing a glaring red flag. “All a man can do is show up and be the man he is and you get to decide if he’s right for you. That’s not his choice to make.”
My head started to spin. She had a point. In all my past relationships, the men had presented themselves honestly and I chose to stay anyway. I couldn’t blame them for my bad choice. I should have left the second I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t. I waited, way too long.
“I hear what you’re saying,” I finally said. “I still think it’s noble of this guy to want to protect me, that he’s concerned about my happiness, but you’re right, all he can do is show up and I get to choose.”
I hoped to choose right this time. And I hoped they would start making TEAM BELLA T-shirts, because in the end, it’s really up to her to decide who’s best for her.