My Dad always told me to look up to the stars for hope and for a long time I did.
Whenever I found myself up against adversity, felt lost or alone – I would wait until the sun went down and find a place to watch the stars.
Polaris, Sirius, Betelgeuse, Vega, Arcturus, Rigel – these names and their place in the heavens have been ingrained in my head for decades now, but they stopped giving me solace a long time ago. I grew up in Casper, Wyoming with my Mom, Dad and a revolving rogues gallery of ill-fated pets. Goldfish, hamsters, rabbits, dogs, cats; you name it, we had ’em. I used to blame the short life expectancy of the animals in our home on my own inability to look after them properly, but with parents like mine I now think its a wonder that I survived.
It would be wrong to say that I got whatever I asked for. Although my parents were all too happy to drop any kind of animal that I wanted in my lap, I rarely got what I yearned for most – friends, parents: companionship.
To say that my parents were hard-workers would be an understatement. They had both grown up in cities and spent their entire lives dreaming of escaping to rural America. Neither of them were that smart. They’d met in High School and had both ended up flunking their classes. My Mom always told me she was the best speller in her class, but considering she dropped out when she was 16 and barely went to school for the lat year, that meant that this was a title that she only held for a few years. Regardless of her past spelling prowess, she didn’t need those skills to work at the Wallmart in Casper, just under 100 miles away.
You could say that my parents belonged to a different era, they would have agreed with you, although they would have contended which one. They had wanted to belong to the Woodstock generation, they pined for those lost years of Free Love even more than they longed to break away for the city. Unfortunately, they followed their dreams blindly. After spending 5 years scrimping and saving, they were able to afford a four-room shack just outside the aptly named Lost Cabin. Despite working 50-hour weeks throughout their teenage years, they had succeeded in buying their home and escaping the city – but then they had me.
Although they had intended on living off the land, they soon found that growing enough food for three took patience, hard work and skills that two shop clerk attendants of 21 years old simply didn’t have. Even though they’d escaped the clutches of city life, they ended up spending the next two decades driving back and forth to separate cities just to pay the bills and keep me clothed. One day my Mom left for work and didn’t come back, my Dad came back from a night-shift to find me staring at the sky – that was the day of the eclipse.
Single parenthood taught my Dad that it’s not the stars that give you hope, but other people. I still live with him in Lost Cabin, but I don’t feel alone any more.
Thanks to Jessica Mayfield-Sawyer for sharing that story of how the eclipse changed her life. Have you got your own story to share? Send us your story!