Since I was a little girl I have been drawn to the night sky. And have in turn, turned page upon page of sketch pads. Drawing. From a screened in outporch bedroom I sat up many moons conversing with night creatures, friending star maps by flashlight. Addicted to the night like fireflies, and a favorite bedtime story promising a good fight, and vivid Caldecot illustrations. Elation. Light filling my eyes with wonder and story drama falling like dew from heaven. Constelations etched into my brain forever like craters on the moon, and me wanting more and more of her myths like a drunken sailor making love to mead on a voyage of a lifetime search for home. Tonight I am this woozy child again. Leaving distant dainty teacups, teddy bears and delicacies for other high societies. Sky society has set up class structure in a state park parking lot. I think the lot…..just a little lower, crowd and tip the eye piece to drink up an eye feast of high tech telescopes. I hope to witness heavenly bodies in the dark.
The camper crowd is earthy. Most from campground rallying. Roll in like thunder, lightning, a hundred rolled out sleeping bags, Plopped down like gear, or drift about like campfire like smoke following beauty and truth, in search of eye candy. A large Aspira ecovan spills out her Estevia outward bound bounty, still smiling from a weekly shower and brief parental hugs on Daniels Summit. They’ll spend the sum of summer together searching for themselves, forsaking addictions. This appeals to me. One easyspeak pilgrim is Jewish, and glows like a menora in his sharing. Feels really good. Sets off for Costa Rica tomorrow. I think this is bananas but I smile. I like bananas.
I hear the Taylor children coming…..tangling and teasing. Inviting mom to join me in the line. Dad joins us in time. Move littlest Meagan ahead so she can have a less eventful time, and escape the pommel of a tired, tormenting older brother. They’ve been riding four-wheelers all afternoon. Hot and spent. David is his usual mild self. Ten year old Saint, enthusiastic scientist, loving every minute of this night life. I like him most. His quiet smile, his unassuming ways, taking it all in, full of promise. The same. I am happy and sad at the same time, feeling I’ve broken a promise to him. Wish I had taught him more. Still, I think he will go far in becoming a park ranger like his father. At least he said he would. Good.
As night falls, the parking lot expands with enthusiasts like a stomach full of burgers and smores. Although I only had some apricots driving over, I am feeling one too many hotdogs full and fighting sticky feelings. Wanting to feel better, turn up the gratitude. On this platitude I become Odyseus, wet and wild and with a mouth of sand, bless the gods that reign on land and sea. Kiss the ground, I have arrived. But not before I’m cursed by a kind of campground host Medussa.
Before it grew more dark, the parking lot was less full and you could see across the water to boaters making one last pass. I was staking spots to stand, debating conversation. Found a face I recognized. A seasonal park helper. Lacey and I had worked together at the Kamas pool one summer. She set up this star event. I watched as AARP prepared and calibrated telescopes. A woman named Larry’s wife offers a chair to Lacey as I lean on a Suburban. A crusty, creaking grandma urges me on to take a look. In doing so give me one herself! I think I make her nervous in hanging back behind.
And so I did, moved forward, before her shifty eyes, but in the process, knocked over a giant mug of diet Coke, or something like it that was sitting on the trunk. I thought my bumper more or less, low profile. It was not. The drink exploding at my feet like sticky super soaker water balloons. And with the beverage running everywhere, I felt I too could run, facilities only feet away. But I felt swayed to stay and take my punishment. The sinking spread right through me, and on to everywhere. Just like sticky soda running under both camp chairs. Of course the sudden shower, sent both Lacey and the lady into calesthenics. And thus began the curse. I got the stink eye a second time. And this one was worse. A simple blundering turned high offense.
This was not all. “I am so very sorry!” I said. Bending, retrieved a dripping mug and set it in a hesitant raised hand, she could have just as easily slapped me with along with looks. I offered an apology. Not enough and nothing I could do but hope they’d move the chairs. What now? They chose to stay, nowhere to move to really. So I stepped forward and away to making contact with her husband’s blue, less judging eyes, said, “Wow, maybe you won’t want me to look through your telescope now. To which he then replied, “There’s another mug just like it next to you. Don’t knock it over.”
He was busying with setting up, and dialing in computer codes, but waved me over. Nope, I had not offended him. And so I stepped to take a look, introduced myself and had a pleasant first conversation. When suddenly, the wife burst on the scene with lights and siren, and cut me off, ”Did you get it lined up!” She burst, much like the Coke had done on pavement. And this time it was me who watched with open mouth. Yes dearing, he pulled her near the eye piece, but not before another stink eye. How curious. And how would I react this time? Fine. I said nothing, did nothing. I was so proud of me, but could not now enjoy this. And so I became invisible, and for some strange reason felt it was okay. And if I did not see a star, or moon, or Saturn all night long, I would leave with something to remember, to think upon, and to write about. There was no doubt.
I knew at once, that I was victim to not one but two addictions. Her first was caffeine, and the second jealous love ambition. I am not so familiar with the first, but there are many who partake and are enslaved to habit. I chose not to have it, but sometimes reward colleagues, students for good behavior with a cold can from my mini fridge. Sometimes I feel I’m harboring a fugitive, this soda pop… wrongfully dealing in illegal substances, knowing just how detrimental to the body. The second vice, Jealousy. I know it very well. A little in myself, but this much too hard to see because it isn’t something I’m proud to be. Much easier to recognize in others. So I will turn to definitions.
Jealousy. What is it? And how to treat it? My entry is not a dictionary definition. I would simply like to base it on my observation. An extreme, excessive state of want and fear of never getting. Perhaps a sudden lapse in self esteem, or something more deep seated? A wound or hurt sustained in early childhood? Envious ego wanting to be the only one and all to anything the other has, in love, attentions, intimacies, plans. Aching to be joined as one, entwined forbidden vines, then exploding into fits of rage in the absence of that something.
Declined. Denied. The one thing wanted so desperately, but always out of reach. In the end, jealousy is an unstable companion, an inert gas, a goose, a risky partner better not befriended. A lie subscribed to for lack of things….corrosive coveting, lack of faith and greater lack of gratitude, reduction to the undivine, hopes thrown like slop to squeeling famished swine. Never enough. Jealousy is always victim, even as it tries to play the persecutor.
Generationally I’ve seen this jealousy. My mother’s mother, and the one before her. My grandma Jensen, with the farting leg, stayed behind with her prosthetic in a cooler summer basement, pent up, while Grandpa and I went rounding up some lunch from Arctic Circle. Munched then down played ranch burgers, for fear of being stumped. Fried in the returning. He seldom ever left her side. Devoted to his bride. So she came to rely and keep him hers alone in viscious doting. I got the evil eye a time or two.
And then my mom. On more than one occasion when dad did stand up comedy for checkers in the grocery line. I was just a child, but knew what he was buying, and saw her sadlly shift and flounder in his flirting. Doubt he knew that she was hurting in the jealousy.
And me…..sometimes on Mothers Day since mom has gone. Longing for a female bond to celebrate. Too late. Now I stay home from church on this spring holiday. And other places…like fourth grade, among the girly threesomes, falling in and out of friendships, drama ramas, syndicated reruns, in and out of sitcoms almost weekly…deceitfully pulling and positioning a place where so very sadly two does not equal three. And you’re the third wheel, feeling left out in the squeeking. In Greek mythology and in constelations. Feeling no consolation.
I don’t know how to fix this thing called jealousy except in forgiving, giving for for-Heaven’s sake, not for my own, loving truer, through and througher in spite the foolishness. And in the dark we stargaze deep into the night. See Hugo Cabret’s father light the moon. Bright and brighter, Wind the automatron Draw a magnified younger Papa Georges breakfasting on Saturn’s tiny cheerios. A spoon full! Big dipper staring to a Northern tune. And somehow in the chaos of the night, I lost track of Big Gulps, and Larry’s jealous wife. Looking past. I probably couldn’t see the stink eye anymore tonight even if I wanted to… with all the lights out.