I’ve reached for the stars my whole life.
When I was young and felt invincible, the stars represented my dreams. I wanted to be the just like the best and brightest of them, believing that with hard work and little luck, my skill and talent would make me shine and shimmer like they did. The stars were inspirational, aspirational. Especially on those not-a-breath-of-wind-cloud-in-the-sky late summer’s evenings. The kind where you walk for an hour along the shoreline, head up to the twinkling, head down to their glorious reflection in the wet sand, and the whole sky feels like it’s there for the taking.
I like that self of mine, arrogant as she was. Reaching for a such a high and distant goal is a wonderful thing. You ain’t gonna get nowhere staring at the concrete. But god, when I started out I was so full of it. Full of myself. Full of my dreams and future glory and very little else. I didn’t realise then how tough the journey would be, how impossible it would feel so very often.
Life sure did get in the way of all that stargazing. Setbacks and disappointments and failure and grief and trauma and marriage and babies and kids and being worn out from the grind. Life’s gotten so dark sometimes.
When the days were the blackest of black, I felt very small, my life a tiny box I was almost suffocating in. The stars were so important to me. I would be in my bedroom after I’d gotten my son to sleep, feeling grey and numb, and I’d take a peek out the curtains, across the garden and out to sea, and I’d look for just one star above the dark horizon. I was too afraid then of all the shadows [that were mostly within me] to go outside to look. I was too broken to wish for a whole sky of stars. On those bleak evenings, it was enough to see one small flick of light through the cloudcover, to remind myself there was light in the world, and that there would again be light in me. Stars are hope, and right then, I felt like hope was all I had.
I’ve come so far from that woman. She’s like someone I used to know. Thank christ. I’m out of the shadows and damn I’ve stepped into some fierce light.
I’m no longer young, I’m no longer so full of myself - all the wank and puff has been worn off by the stormy weather. Which makes me very happy indeed. I’m in what I hope to be the middle of my life. I know who I am, my feet are firmly on the ground. But you know what, my chin’s still up, looking at those stars. Difference is,I’m not reaching for a whole sky of them. I’d like just one. That one star twinkling gently in exactly my shape, with my name written all over it.
A girl’s gotta dream.
[This artwork is available as this open edition print, so if you love it you can have it for your very own.]
Seen in this video in situ during the tenderness project.