I’m gonna stay up for the meteor shower expected tonight. The sky is crystal clear, like twinkling onyx. It’s 12 midnight, and I have to be up at 6 to open the shops and get them ready for a beautiful holiday weekend, but I want to see the falling stars. I want to make wishes on them, I want to see them to make sure they are real and what I remember from August 1980 is real, too.
August 1980, the summer I was sowing my wild (well actually not so wild, but I like the phrase) oats. I was single for the first time in over 3 years, and I was lonely in a way I hadn’t been before, it was an odd time, with much to fill my days, working at the hospital, making the transition to oncology, early mornings there, late nights with my thoughts, lazy weekends off, lots of dates with great men, but not a single one that I felt anything for.
Many of my friends were getting married, and I was wondering at the ripe old age of 21 if I would end up a spinster psychologist that ironically offered marital counseling.
I just wanted to find the guy. You know, the one. I did like this one guy, he drove a great car, worked at the airport, said all the right things, looked good, and then stood me up for a line of cocaine somewhere, and I missed my friend’s wedding. He got his just desserts in the end, to fall back on a sadly overused idiom to describe an idiot. Anyhow, how desirable do you think I felt to be stood up for a line of cocaine? Not so much.
The shock of being stood up still clanks in me all these years later. I just didn’t know people would do something like that on the day of a friend’s wedding. I felt so ashamed and unwanted and lost and truly pissed off.
That August, a friend and I were sitting on the side porch of the old Victorian house I rented in the little town I lived in watching my little toy poodle in the yard. All of a sudden, a star just fell from the sky. My buddy asked, “Did you make a wish?” And I said, “Did that really happen?” I hadn’t seen anything like it. Then another fell, and I made a wish quickly — I’d long stopped praying, so I figured a wish was as good as a prayer.
Several other stars fell, and we decided to move to the roof with Angel for a better view. At the top of the stairs, there was a trap door that led to a flat spot on the roof, we laid down a blanket on the tar, and the heat of the day’s sun still warmed our backs as we watched star after star fall from the sky. We were quiet, my friend and I. We had a great friendship, but it wasn’t a love thing, at least not for me, yet I was warned by many not to hurt him, but I was never one to hurt someone, so why would I start with someone I cared so much about?
I didn’t ask what he wished for, and he didn’t ask what I was wishing for. We just laid there feeling the warm sun on our backs and the cool air of the night on our faces. That night, my friend stooped down for a kiss, but it really was like kissing my brother, and I remembered wishing it didn’t feel that way, and I kidded him and said, “When you kiss me, it’s as if I’m your sister.” And I knew what everyone had thought would happen happened in that minute, and then he grabbed me, kissed me hard again, lifted me up in a huge bear hug and I breathed in the scent of dill pickles that still clung to him after a long day as an accountant at a pickle plant, and then he dropped me on my feet and walked away and we never talked about it again.
But, I never forgot the want in me to love someone like my friend, and the want not being enough to make it so.
The next month, something amazing happened, I met the guy, the one. And I thought about that night on the roof and wondered if wishes on falling stars really do come true, and I thought for a moment to ask my friend if his wish had come true, but somehow, I knew it hadn’t, so I thought about how the stars got there, and Who might have made them fall that night, and I started to think about God and prayer, but not so much that I would jump into the deep end with religion again. At least not for a while.