Late summer is time for The Perseid Meteor Shower. I always forget about it and every August, it is a pleasant surprise. I recently had a group of gal pals out at the farm for an overnight right during the shower. After we had supped, laughed and told stories by candlelight inside, we adjourned to the deck with blankets and herbal tea. We leaned back to take in the late evening whilst talking, staring at the starry sky. Every so often, a lone satellite silently traveling above broke the stillness of the dotted dome. A couple of red-eye flight airplanes appeared, noiselessly ferrying folks from one side of the continent to another. The cell towers in the distance stood sentry, beeping their red lights, reminding us that the outside world was still there. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we were startled and delighted to find nature’s fireworks coming into focus.
“So, I’m getting ready for another thirteen-hour college trip at the end of the month,” I was saying to no one in particular. “My ass hurts just thinking … Ohhhhh my God!!!!” The light show had begun.
When I see a shooting star, I just can’t help it. I start screaming. And laughing. It’s always so surprising. You’re just staring at a silent sky one minute and the next, it comes alive.
“Holy cow!” I kept scream/laughing. “Woo hoo!”
I’d finally settle down, returning to our conversation. “I totally hate my bedroom. I feel like we are sleeping in a guy’s dorm room. I mean, we’ve been married for almost thirty years. It is time to … Holy crap!!!! There goes another one!”
It went on like this for a couple of hours, chatter interrupted by screaming and laughing. It was delightful. Eventually, we all turned in, one by one, letting the light show go on without us.
The next day, I hugged my pals goodbye and retreated to the house alone, with the dog. I puttered around the house, did some work on my computer and then noticed the sun setting. I grabbed a glass of wine and some leftovers, and had a silent dinner outside, listening to the sounds of late summer, and cicada songs filling the air with their “Cree-cree-cree-creeeeeee.” That sound makes me a little nostalgic and morose, knowing that school will be starting soon. I got the reflexive urge to go out and buy school supplies and cover my textbooks with cut up brown paper bags and duct tape.
The sunset threw purple and yellow colors all over the clouds as the birds swooped and chatted to each other to settle down for the night. After taking the four-wheeler for a drive, chasing the fading light, I returned to my perch on the deck to look for an encore of the previous night’s light show.
It was a slow night in the heavens, though. The Perseid Shower was down to a drip. Gazing upward, my mind drifted and I remembered being a ten-year-old girl, looking out my parents’ TV room window at the stars above. I was an awkward, chubby ten year old, in a stage my mother would describe as “betwixt and between.” Still a child, but wanting to be older, cooler, prettier. I felt compelled to wish on the first star of the night – out loud. “Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might. Have the wish I wish tonight.” What was I wishing for so earnestly? Probably a boyfriend. Or boobs. Or tan skin. Or for my older brothers to be nice to me. Or for a princess phone in my room like my friend Maureen.
Unfortunately, there was no such thing as privacy in our house. One of my brother’s darling friends was there and overheard me. I had a wild crush on this friend. He had a John Travolta kind of handsomeness (Travolta from the 70’s, not the creepy, Slytherin vibe he’s rocking these days) with a wealth of wavy, dark hair and a strong jaw. John Travolta laughed out loud at me.
“Are you wishing on a star?” he chortled.
“No, I’m ….” I mumbled as I retreated, my face turning a hot red.
“Awww. You’re so cute. Starlight, star bright ...”
I was mortified. I wanted to die, to disappear, to vaporize.
And yet, he had just talked to me. And he did think I was cute. In a pathetic way, but still, I would take whatever crumbs he’d give me.
For years and years after that, John Travolta would bound into my mom’s house and always, always give me a “Hey, Starlight. How’s it going?” as he went upstairs to my brother’s room.
I chuckled to myself on my farm deck, alone with my dog, staring upward. Remembering John Travolta, my wish on the star that evening, my utter embarrassment and also thrill at having been noticed, by a boy. I’m a grown ass adult now. I did eventually get boobs, date boys, even married one, and somewhere in my late teens, I think my brothers started to actually like me. Never did get that princess phone, though.
I was starting to pack up my blanket and my empty wine glass when one last, dramatic salutation from above bid me good night. A giant, thick shooting star etched its way across the sky, looking for all the world like a streak of white chalk arcing across a big celestial blackboard.
“Whoa!!!” I laughed out loud to myself. “That was awesome!!!”
I quickly made a wish that I would never tire of seeing that kind of thing.