It is a bit after nine in the evening, and I am sitting in my driveway with my back against the rear bumper of my Honda. It’s nice out, about 70 degrees; enough humidity to keep the air heavy, but a slight breeze still breaks through. The sky is a blob of navy blue with some azure stirred in, and there are white-winged clouds at the edges. The pine trees are black against the sky. Immovable. The wind just rustles the tops, which are way above the neighboring roofs, enough so that I see them move between blinks.
I’ve always loved stars. When I was little, there was this movie called Pooh’s Grand Adventure (90s babies anyone???). My mom used to sing the theme song to me all the time, and even got me this necklace that has pooh bear holding a star between his paws. When I was older and working at a fast food restaurant, I would come home between 10:30-11 at night and stop somewhere between my car and the porch steps. Watching. Praying, sometimes. Trying to memorize the dotted patterns that I had tried to capture with a camera, but that never looked good enough. Later in life, I used to lay in the grass with my boyfriend. It was always late at night, on Wednesdays, on that little hill between the baseball field and the wall that separated it from the National Cemetery. We would look at the stars, and he kept saying that, twenty or thirty years from now, we would be in that same spot, no matter where life took us in between.
Hahaha…(that’s a sad, cynical, bitter laugh by the way. Just thought you should know.)
Aside from my personal memories about stars are the things I actually know about them. From astronomy class, I remember a star map on the computer that showed all the constellations as graphic pictures of these strange animals with horse heads and bear feet that looked like centaur rip-offs from Narnia. I remember that Venus is the easiest planet to see and alot of times we think it is a star. It’s actually funny because on the luminosity scale, there are alot of very bright stars that we only see as pinpricks in the night. It’s funny because in fact they are burning, blazing, enormous balls where hydrogen is burning into helium, and there are tons of ways to classify them by mass and kinematics and temperature, and millions of them pass through the stages of red giant to white dwarf and die in supernova explosions every day, and we only see a dot. A single dot.
That got me thinking. Bear with the philosophy for a sec…
The reason I am sitting out here in the first place is because I went out to the car to get my phone. And there were no missed calls…no job offers or interviews. So I just stood there, watching my neighbor mess with a motorcycle in his garage. Then I started thinking…and remembering…and missing people I may never see again, and that just led to tears and a hot mess.
And then there are the stars. Looking at them didn’t make me feel better. I didn’t have any spiritual touchy-feely experience sitting out there. But watching them did make me remember that I don’t know everything. That no one in the world knows everything, and that we only discern our life from what we can see in a moment of time.
Excuse me while I smash a bug against my jeans. In this moment of time, there is a toad hopping across the driveway about two feet from me, and a humming mosquito near my ear, and two bats whirling near the pine tree tops. Notice that we also spend so much time wanting to see the big picture that we aren’t grateful for the glimpse we get. And we never even know when that last look skyward will really be THE last…
I saw an airplane passing among the stars, red light flickering in and out, and remembered also, that we are all in motion, that we see new things as we pass through the different galaxies of our life. Sometimes the stars are more studded. Other times they are reclusive. But they are always there.
Maybe by the end, we will have gathered a complete picture. Maybe when I reach the last moment of life, I will have found the answer to the song I sang as I sat there, the one from my favorite childhood movie,
“I’m out here in the dark, all alone and wide awake,
Come and find me.
I’m empty and I’m cold, and my heart’s about to break,
Come and find me.
I need you to come here and find me,
Cause without you I’m totally lost.
I’ve hung a wish on every star, it hasn’t done much good so far,
I can only dream of you. Wherever you are.”
I said I don’t know anything. But I do know one thing–that if I stop seeking, then I’ll stop finding. If I stop looking at the stars, then I’ll kill the moment of silence as I comprehend the mysteries of things so profound that I can’t even understand how far away they are. So I won’t stop.
The appropriate question now is “will you?” but I’ll just be quiet and leave you to try to find a worthwhile metaphor in this. The toad is heading back toward me again, and the bugs are becoming bolder. Therefore, goodnight! * * * * * * * * * * * * * *