Humans need to spend more time looking at the stars. Today is July 22.
I woke up at 6:30 this morning after a strange, stressful dream centering around me forgetting my college move-in date and therefore not being allowed to attend college. I could have probably stayed awake then, but I decided to try and get back to sleep instead. Three hours later I woke up yet again, this time from another odd dream, this one focusing on a journalism convention trip where people refused to wear masks and everyone was late all the time. Two anxiety-inducing dreams back to back made me not want to sleep in, so I got up and started my day.
For a while I read and listened to music. I tried unsuccessfully to eat a bowl of cereal, but ultimately I ended up pouring most of the milk on myself and taking half an hour to eat breakfast because I’m still just using my front teeth to chew. I can’t wait until my mouth feels normal again and I don’t have to worry about where my wisdom teeth used to be. Doing warm saltwater rinses with a syringe after eating any type of food is irritating and unpleasant.
After a few hours, my mom decided she wanted to go to the store to pick up some items for my graduation party. While she was gone she asked me to look through my senior photos, which she took in Canada while we were up there last year, and choose my favorites to frame. When my brother graduated high school a few years back, she made a picture frame of his senior photos, and she has a matching one for me to fill now. The main problem we encountered was she predominantly took horizontal pictures, but we found enough vertical ones that everything should be fine.
Instead of calling RBHS about accessing my transcript or writing my scholarship essay, I watched Part Two of The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia. I know it’s likely intended for a younger audience, but I wanted some brain candy (sweet but not stimulating) to entertain me. Now that I’m done with the show, I’m planning on returning to watching Spanish language programs. I’m trying to find new series and movies to see, but if I can’t find any that look good I’ll probably rewatch some of my old favorites like Elite. An electronic pen pal and I have been sending Spanish language show recommendations back and forth, and we both agreed Elite is one of our top picks.
Around 6:15 p.m. we left for my grandpa’s house. Our plan was to eat dinner with him then hang around and watch Comet NEOWISE. The comet has an orbital period of 6,766 years, so I won’t be able to see it again in my lifetime. My mom has been talking about it for weeks now, and tonight was supposed to be when it was closest to Earth and most clearly visible to the naked eye. My mom brought a telescope and binoculars, though, so we could get a closer look.
We ate sitting outside on my grandpa’s picnic tables. The weather was absolutely perfect. The air was quiet and still, and everything seemed calm. The temperature was just right, even without a breeze, and once the sun set I didn’t feel too chilly. My grandpa and I talked and joked around together for much of the evening. I adore him and love spending time with him. I’m so grateful to have been able to visit him these last few months, even during the pandemic. One of my biggest regrets of the last few years, probably for most of high school, is that I didn’t make more time to spend with him. He is one of the kindest, funniest and most caring people I know. I am certain I am a better person because of him.
When the sun set, we migrated down to the North West of my grandpa’s property to wait for the stars to come out. My grandpa and mom tried without success to set up the telescope, but in the end we relied on binoculars instead. While they were working on their telescope problem, my uncle called my mom, and I answered the phone. We talked about my graduation party, and he offered to bring food and tents. I’m not sure what exactly we’ll need at this point because my mom and I are still in the planning stage, but his offer was sweet.
I’m excited to see my aunts, uncles and cousins because I don’t think we’ve all gotten together since Christmas. I know I saw my cousins when my club volleyball season was going on, but since then the most we’ve done are texts, a couple phone calls and one FaceTime call. When my uncle hung up, I went back to watching the sky and admiring the visible sliver of the Moon.
I was the first to spot the big dipper constellation. From there my mom told us to look to the left of its rectangular bottom to see the Comet NEOWISE. We looked for a while with no success, but then we spotted it faintly above two parallel stars. Theoretically we could have seen it with our naked eyes, but we had better luck using the binoculars. It wasn’t visible for too long, just enough for us to admire its beauty and realized after this month we’d never see it again.
“If there’s even a slight chance at getting something that will make you happy, risk it. Life’s too short and happiness is too rare.”
My grandpa and I joked around about the Milky Way and talked about life and the stars. I truly believe we would all be happier if we spent more time looking at the night sky. I don’t think it would solve all the world’s problems, but the peace nature provides can make us feel both infinitely small and immensely important. For the rest of the summer, one of my resolutions is to spend more time watching the stars.
“If there’s even a slight chance at getting something that will make you happy, risk it. Life’s too short and happiness is too rare.” ― A.R. Lucas
How did you spend your 127th day of social distancing? Let us know in the comments below.