Thursday, August 22, 2013

When You Wish Upon A Meteor Shower

by Giselle Renarde

Be not afraid... I have no vacation snaps to show you.  I spent last week in the woods and I didn't bring a camera.  Deliberately.  When I have a camera with me, I'm always looking to preserve a moment.  It's like I can't trust my brain to do that for me. 

Here's something my brain managed to preserve, where my camera probably would have failed: the meteor shower.  Maybe you remember what it was called--because I certainly don't.  (Okay, that's one brain-fail.)

The sky was spectacular.  If I'd been at home, I'd have seen nothing.  I can see a total of zero stars from my balcony.  The city is too bright.

But in the woods of Northern(ish) Ontario, the sky was just dappled.  We took a guided night hike through a dark sky preserve--a portion of the national parks system kept free of artificial light pollution.  We saw shooting stars.  Well, meteors.  I lost count after five.

Actually, it was somewhere around five that I remembered you can make a wish on a shooting star.  My mother's voice started echoing in my brain: "Make a wish before you blow out your candles!"  And, as an adult, I sit in front of that cake the way I stood below the sky, thinking... I don't know what to wish for.

Really, I don't want to wish for anything.  I don't want to want anything.  I have very few belongings by North American standards, and still I feel cluttered and overwhelmed by them.

I don't want to win the lottery.  God help me!  Winning the lottery is my idea of a nightmare.  All the cockroaches on my father's side of the family would come out of the woodwork to beg, steal, or borrow their share.  No, not borrow.  Steal.  Definitely steal.

Events?  There are things I would like to see happen (personally, professionally, all that), but I'm too balanced about them.  Like Lisabet, I want professional success, but I don't want fame.  That's too heavy a burden.  I'd like to be able to pay my goddamn rent--I do write for a living, after all.  Would be nice to stop digging this hole at some point.

And then there's romance, there's marriage... I've never been married and I never thought I'd want to marry anyone, but I do adore my girlfriend.  There's a romantic part of me (about the size of a thumbnail) that would love not to be in a long-distance relationship with someone who lives in the same province.  There's a part of me that never played house as a child, whispering now's the time. 

But there's a more pragmatic part of me that sees the complexities of marrying someone who isn't out with her family (as trans, as lesbian), who has been married before and doesn't particularly want to go there again until she can walk down the aisle in a dress.  More than that, I'd become step-mother to children who are older than I am (I keep telling you Sweet is an old lady--you didn't believe me?) and I don't feel like they'd  give me a fair shake.

I guess all that's left is to wish for is happiness.  Except... here's the thing: I don't want to be happy all the time.  What kind of life is that?  I want to experience the highs and the lows.  I put myself at the mercy of the Universe.  That's the closest I come to faith.

And so, I fall upon my fallback of the past five year: I wish for my girlfriend to be happy.  My romantic thumbnail seems to be taking over.

Although, she's not really the type who'd want to be happy all the time.  She also values the lows and the highs, everything life has to offer...


  1. This post struck me so powerfully that i can't even write.

    However, true to form, like the nerd I am--The Perseid Meteor Shower.

    Now let me get back to my tears.


    1. Awww thanks.. and I knew there'd be nerds reading. Probably most of us are nerds.

  2. Most human visions of happiness are often unattainable. The most we can hope for is contentment with how we handle what life throws at us.

    1. Exactly! I've always been terrible at that, but getting better with age.

  3. great post, Giselle. for me winning the lottery would also be more of a curse than a blessing. overseeing potentially dishonest money managers is not really my idea of a fun time.

    1. One of my dearest friends is very wealthy and she has had the most horrendous life imaginable. I wouldn't trade places with her for anything. I'd rather be poor and happy (and sometimes miserable).

  4. Seeing the Perseid meteor shower again (I've seen some before over the years) could be one of the things on my bucket list, partly because I missed it this time around, and not for lack of opportunity. I was in a reasonable dark-sky area at the time, in NH in the Mount Washington Valley, and I intended to stay up to watch...but failed. In fact, I'd been hurriedly finishing up a promised short story and sending it off (via the painfully slow dial-up that's my online link in the relative wilderness unless I go out to steal a cup of wifi at in the local ski resort parking lot.) I didn't remember the meteors until I was drifting off to sleep around midnight, and I'm ashamed to say that I didn't get up and wait a few hours for the best viewing time. I'm realizing that quite a few of my "bucket list" items are things I've done but want to do again, and it's decreasingly likely that I'll succeed.

  5. "I don't want to be happy all the time."

    Giselle - this hit me like a runaway train. Of course you're right. One needs the pain for contrast and for depth.

    I'm happier now than I've ever been, and as a result, I feel as though I've become somehow shallower. I don't feel things at the same level of intensity as I did when I was an angsty youngster writing desperate, horny poetry. Some of that may be age, but some of it might be an excess of happiness.

    On the other hand, I can't exactly wish for unhappiness...

    As for marriage, well, you really never know. And maybe things will change so that Sweet CAN have her wedding dress.

  6. I'm jealous that you got to see the meteors in such a great place! We had just come back from camping way up north, so we had to settle for sitting around the backyard fire-pit, hoping the city lights wouldn't make everything too light. Husband and my son said, "There's one, wow!" At that exact moment my neck was getting a crick in it from leaning backwards in the chair, and I looked at the campfire for a second. Sigh.

    I don't know what to wish for either, though with our constant money issues and my crappy p/t jobs, winning the lottery would be nice. But I don't play because I can't justify wasting that money. I don't wish for happiness as much as for contentment--that serenity prayer, asking for the strength to change what I can, the acceptance of what I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference. And for all of my kids to be able to find a partner to complete them, as I did. That's about it.

  7. Hi Giselle!

    When we were on vacation in northern Minnesota I stepped outside to take a leak and saw the Milky Way galaxy and told my kid to come out and see the wonder of the arm of the galaxy he lives on.

    I would love to win the lottery. No, it doesn't buy you happiness but if you manage it right it can buy you a measure of freedom, I think so anyway. I admire that you earn a living by writing, but I sure don't envy you. That's very hard. Even Shakespeare didn't earn his living by writing. Good luck and courage with that.



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