Starry Eyed

My favorite thing about being in Ohio is seeing the stars. Oak Park is essentially in Chicago, and I’m never able to see stars. Lots of helicopters and airplanes. A star or two. Maybe I’ll catch the moon.

My friend from Amherst, Massachusetts laughed when I told her that I love seeing stars in Oberlin. She said, “Please, this is nothing.”

I guess I had low expectations, so I wondered what her life was like where she could see entire galaxies at her door.

When I was in South Dakota, I found myself standing outside in the fields, staring up at the sky, feeling like I was truly one with the world. I cried standing there, being able to trace out every constellation and behold the magnificence of the universe that I and everyone around me was a part of. And I was in Dupree, South Dakota, the poorest county in all of the United States. On the Lakota reservation I was at, there were packs of stray dogs on every block. They made up their own constellations on the ground. Multiple families lived in trailers the size of college dorms. I was transfixed by what I felt was the irony of the situation: the people who were the most rich in natural beauty were completely destitute.

I felt like stars were a privilege before that moment. That didn’t make sense, because so many wealthy people lived in cities in which they couldn’t see the stars. But I thought it was a privilege because those wealthy people could choose to leave and live in the Duprees and the Amhersts of the world. And the poor people who lived in those places already probably didn’t care about those stars, at least not as much as all of the wealthy “back-to-nature” people. They just cared about surviving.

But what’s out there? What if in some other galaxy, there are beings like us going through the exact same things? What if someone or something is waiting to make contact with us the way we hope to make contact with something out there?

My dad thinks that’s crazy, and slightly sinful. He believes that God only made us human beings, we are made in His image, and we are it. When my grandma took me to a planetarium, I asked her if she believed in aliens and stuff, and she said she did because “Why would God just leave us alone in the universe?”

Every time I look at stars, I wonder if there is something there. I feel privileged to stare out and wonder those things.

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