I’d managed to forget about the Perseid meteor shower.
Last year people came to my campground particularly to see the meteors.
Three women were sharing a campsite. They’d come from MegaBabylon with fancy cameras and tripods. Their plan was to set up the cameras on the tripods in the meadow and set the timers to shoot photos every twenty seconds. I spent quite a bit of time talking to the two women who’d arrived first. I felt like we’d had a nice connection. I told them about my blog and gave them my card. They promised to send me some of the photos they’d shot of the night sky, but I never heard from them.
The other reserved campsite was taken by two young Asian American brothers. One did all the talking and was very polite. They were from MegaBabylon too.
It was the middle of the week, and no one else was in the campground–just me and the five stargazers. They were all really excited about the meteor shower, which wasn’t surprising, considering they’d driven for hours to come to a really dark area to get a good view of the night sky.
The group enthusiasm got me thinking maybe I needed to see the meteor shower too. I like nature. I like stars. I really like shooting stars. Here I was in a prime location for seeing this meteor show. Maybe I should get out of the van and have a look.
The photographer women said the shower would start after midnight and peak around 2am. They encouraged me to see the shower, but they didn’t invite me to join their party.
Midnight? 2am? I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen those hours, unless I was up briefly to pee. I didn’t think I’d be able to stay up so late, but maybe I could set my alarm and get out of bed at the appropriate time.
The middle of the night came and my alarm sounded. I did not want to leave my warm, comfortable bed. I was soooo sleepy, but I knew the starts were out there, and now was the time to see them. I dressed and grabbed my old sleeping bag that doesn’t zip. As I trudged out to the meadow, I heard the campers already out there.
By chance, I ended up between the two groups. The camera ladies were in front of me; the brothers were behind me. I curled up in my sleeping bag and looked up at the brilliant night sky.
There were so many stars! It was all so beautiful!
In my head, I kept hearing Boots Riley sing
And though the stars are magnificent
whiskey and the midnight sky can make ya feel insignificant
I was cold. The ground was hard and uncomfortable. I felt less and less significant.
The talking and laughing of the others made me feel more and more isolated. I wish I had friends, I thought. I wish I weren’t out here alone, I thought. I wish I had someone to look at the sky with, I thought.
Lying there by myself, waiting to see chunks of the heavens come crashing from the sky made me feel increasingly sad. The sky is falling, and I’ve got no one, I thought.
I don’t remember seeing a single shooting star before I gathered up my sleeping bag and trudged back to the van. I didn’t fall asleep for a long time. Throughout my insomnia, I could hear the brothers’ oooohs and aaaahs of appreciation as stars streaked across the sky. Knowing others were happy did not cheer me up.
I was depressed for weeks. Sure, I’m typically low-grade depressed all the time, but this was forefront depression, crying at night, struggling to drag myself out of bed in the morning.
This year, I hadn’t even thought about meteor showers until I checked-in a young stoner couple on the afternoon of August 12th.
They had a lot of questions about my personal life. How long did I stay in the campground? Was I there every day? Did I hike a lot on my days off? (When I said no, the man asked me what I did on my days off.)
When I confirmed the couple was only staying one night, the woman said, There’s a meteor shower tonight! I guess they’d come from Babylon to see it.
Oh Perseid meteor shower! Metaphor for my loneliness!
I didn’t even consider setting my alarm. Best just to sleep through it, which I did. I didn’t hear the couple (who were camped in the site next to mine) scamper to the meadow or exclaim in delight.
Best just to ignore the stars falling from the sky while I am alone.