We stopped an hour outside of Dallas for dinner and let Judah toddle around the restaurant while we ate our pizza. The people seated next to us were a family of cowboys, complete with the hats and boots and everything. It’s moments like that when I think, “Wow, I really do live in Texas.”
We listened to Tina Fay’s Bossypants audiobook, an echo of our hours on the road on our honeymoon, listening to The Da Vinci Code and Into Thin Air. We pass other small towns and Isaac says we’re in Dillon (Friday Night Lights, anyone?). They’re the kind of places that have travel stops called “Jesus Christ is Lord”, the "It'll Do" motel (seriously) and signs for feed lots, bail bonds, and home cooking.
When the towns pass, we are left in the barren plains of West Texas that reveals a canopy of stars invisible until now. I press my face against the window and between the stars and the lull of the car I’m reminded of Sunday night drives as a child. We lived 30 minutes away from where our organization's weekly Sunday night meetings were held. As we drove away from those meetings we pulled out dinner, apple slices, crackers, and cheese. Except the cheese was the only kind of cheese available in Indonesian stores without refrigeration, a sort of shelf-stable Kraft cheese sold in a blue box that I was convinced was a petroleum byproduct.
After eating I would read, undeterred by warnings that my eyesight would fail early if I kept straining so much. I would hold my book up so that I could catch the beams of the headlights of oncoming cars, snatch a few sentences and wait for the next car.
Eventually I would press my face to the window and watch the sky of stars, hung with dippers and men with belts, uncontested by city lights. It was beautiful, especially with sleeping siblings and the love of a family filling the car while day dreams and prayers filled my head. Once in high school Alysa, Rachel and I happened on a family using a telescope to star gaze. Since then I’ve known to find Orion and track one corner down the horizon to a bright, twinkling blue star. I know that through a telescope it is a new star, the brilliant, breathtaking rainbow of color that Rachel and I saw that night.
It’s still there now, that star, in the West Texas sky as I watch through the window. I wonder that I am the mother in this car, with my baby sleeping in the back and my husband of years now listening to Matisyahu and driving. So much different, so much the same.