Looking at stars from the hillside…
Yesterday, I reconnected with an old acquaintance. His name is Darren. I had actually found him on Facebook in December of 2014 and had sent him a message, but since we weren’t technically “friends,” Facebook filtered the message and he only just now saw it.
2014 or 2016, it doesn’t make much difference since we haven’t actually seen each other since 1990.
In 1990, I went to a family reunion weekend in Napa, California. 3 days spent with relatives, enjoying very decadent activities – at least they were to me, anyway. Things like casino night, a Moroccan feast, some hiking, and a lot of wine drinking occured. Not part of my everyday routine.
One evening, an astronomer was hired to give us a tour of the night sky. A camp site was chosen up the mountainside, and tents, tables, blankets, food, and everything else we could have wanted was driven up ahead of time to the campsite, along with the astronomer and his very large telescope. We had a delicious meal, and were regaled with the astronomer’s knowledge of that vast darkness above our heads. I guess it still counted as “camping” but I had never experienced that amount of luxury on a mountainside before, and I’m not likely to ever again.
That weekend was when I first met Darren; he was working for my uncle at the time, and over the weekend he helped out with things around the house and property, including setting up the aforementioned Fancy Camping Trip. I took an immediate liking to Darren; he was friendly, intelligent, and genuine. Sometimes I found my family to be intimidating. This has everything to do with me, and nothing to do with them… their accomplishments and successes, when compared to mine, seemed fantastical. It was easy to take a break and talk and spend time with Darren. And it probably didn’t hurt that he was also very handsome. Let’s face it, that never hurts.
After that weekend, I think we wrote letters back and forth a few times (pre-internet, can you BELIEVE it??), but then lost touch with each other, as people sometimes do. I still thought of him from time to time over the years, and a few years ago it occurred to me to look for him on Facebook. I thought maybe I had found him – it only took a year and a half for him to confirm that I had!
We messaged a bit yesterday, and caught up a little bit on each other’s lives. I’m sure we both have a lot more story to tell, who knows if it will ever get told. But reconnecting with him made me think back to that weekend in 1990, and how fun it was… but it also made me think back to the person I was in 1990. Because that woman is very different from the woman who is writing this now.
Imagine being 21 and going up a mountainside one night, where you are treated to a fantastic meal with fascinating people, and are given an earth-based tour of the heavens. Do you remember looking up at the stars when you were young? Not 10 years old young, but early 20’s young. Or if you are young now, what do you think about when you look up there?
Everything up there in the sky represented possibility. Think of where you will go on this amazing life journey! Up hills to fancy camping trips! To beautiful places with fascinating people! You imagine going everywhere and anywhere you want to. The possibilities are endless.
These days, when I look up into the night sky above my house, and the city lights are dim enough to allow me to see the stars, planets, and the occasional shooting star, I’m more likely to think about things like, where will I go after I die? Will I head out that way somewhere when I leave this earth?
I’m not a morbid person, by any means. It’s just fact that I am now closer to the end than the beginning, and my thoughts turn to the more fleeting aspects of “life” and what it means to inhabit, and at some point leave this physical body. It’s still about possibility – just a different set of possibilities.
The young woman who met that nice young man that weekend back in 1990 is still in here somewhere. She still dreams of accomplishing great things and she still dreams of traveling. The parameters have just changed.
I wonder if Darren thinks about these things, too.