When I was a kid, I always loved looking up at the stars. We lived in an area that had a mild amount of light pollution, but there were more than plenty to see. I would beg in the summertime to go outside and just look up with my family, and on occasion or if I had completed some chores, I was rewarded with all of us going out to the driveway in our end of the cul-de-sac home with lawn chairs and freshly made popcorn to spend time together outside. I’m pretty sure my sister hated every minute of it, but there was nothing more I wanted to do than to sit in my parents lap and just look up and watch the sky before bedtime.
I spent a great amount of time at my grandparent’s house when I was a young. My parents both worked, and my sister and I would ride the bus home after school each day to their house until my dad could come pick us up after work. My dad and grandparents (his in-laws) were always close, he would always sit down and catch up with them each night while they made a drink and enjoyed each others’ company. My sister and I usually were running around playing in the yard if it was nice outside, with my grandfather “timing” us how fast we could run around the house. If I ever have children, I’m absolutely using all of his clever tricks he used on us. We were always tired on our rides home from Ammy and Bop’s.
One evening, I remember it being colder in the back of the ‘92 Toyota Corolla on our ride home and my breath fogging up the glass as I looked out at the stars. My dad asked us if the moon was waxing or waning. I was probably 6 years old, and had absolutely no idea what either of these terms meant. After him explaining that at some times we can see more of the moon than at others as it “grows” or “shrinks”, I started thinking more about the moon in ways I hadn’t before. Why could we see more of it? And why doesn’t it move away when we move?
My dad started to explain why the moon doesn’t get left behind us when we drive, but after a few seconds I think he realized that the concepts of perception and distance were lost on a 6 year old. Instead, he went with some typical dadsplaining:
“The moon doesn’t go anywhere because it’s our friend that watches over us. When we move, the moon comes with us to make sure we’re ok.”
And I made a friend that night. The moon was no longer this foreign object misunderstood, but it was a closely connected friend that had been always there for me.
I still love to look out over the stars and into the sky at night. I’ll put on an old record I haven’t listened to in a while, sit in the chair on my deck and listen to the music through the screen door with a drink in hand, decompressing and letting my thoughts wander for a while. And though I’m thousands of miles away from my family and friends, it makes me feel a little more connected to my dad remembering the story he told me. Almost like he’s here with me, finding our path with the moon silently protecting us on our way.