In May 1995, right after I graduated from high school, a Hollywood film crew moved to my hometown, Ponca City, Oklahoma, to shoot Twister. Nothing like this had ever happened to Ponca City before and it was strange that it was happening now, right when I, the center of the known universe, was about to leave for college. Like most of my friends, I’d fantasized about moving away for as long as I could remember. What I craved, what I wanted more than anything, was “culture. ” We thought of Ponca City as this podunk little nowhere, which it basically was, and we imagined our lives taking place somewhere “relevant,” meaning, I guess, a city where you might bump into a movie star while browsing the poetry shelf at a cool bookstore, the kind where you could order a cup of coffee right there in the shop. Now—before we’d even gone out in search of them—the movie stars were coming to us.
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