When I was a kid, I didn’t have a bedtime. Granted, I wasn’t allowed to have chocolate-fueled ragers long into the night at ten years old, but my parents never commanded my brother and me to sleep. We just went to bed when we were tired, and for the vast majority of the time, we were tired around 9pm (which, as I’ve gathered from over a decade’s experience in babysitting, is a normal sleepy time for preteens). It was a system that worked.
However, there were nights when I was up later than usual, and sometimes on those nights, my dad and I would go out into the front yard and stargaze. He’d point out all the constellations we could see from the driveway, but my favorite was always Orion’s Belt. I loved the order of the three bright stars all lined up together, and there was something magical about how they were always right above us. Even as an adult, when I spent those months languishing in my parents’ house waiting for my life to “start” again, if I came back to the house at night, I’d look up and check to see that my lucky stars were there.
Lately, I’ve been having flashes of homesickness. It’s not an overwhelming feeling. It’ll just strike when my brain wanders, like when I’m getting ready for work in the morning. I’ll think, “It’s been a while since I’ve seen my parents/my brothers/my grandparents/the aunts/my friends. I should really go visit this weekend,” and then I realize that I can’t, because I’m not just in the county over anymore. Sometimes, I get lulled into a false sense of security by my own brain.
I was feeling this way as I was walking home late last night from a night class I enrolled in to try to meet more people. (As it turns out, the only people who take adult education night classes are retired and in their sixties. You would not believe the number of invitations to museums I received last night. You know, because they all volunteer twice at week.) I was walking alone and missing people (just a little) and I happened to notice that the clouds had parted and I could see the stars. And right above me, directly above the path that was leading me home, was Orion’s Belt, just as it has been my whole life.
And then I cried like a baby all the way to the front door.