Shooting Stars in Wadi Rum

I wished upon a star last night.

Is that how the saying goes? Or is it:

I wished upon a shooting star?

Either or really, I suppose it doesn’t particularly matter, but I saw my first ever shooting star last night, and I made my first ever wish upon it.

I’ve only ‘seen’ shooting stars in films and television shows, where they are almost always shrouded in romanticism and beauty – with couples or children or those with dreams suddenly silenced as they look in awe at the trail of light beaming across the darkened sky. I had always wanted to witness the phenomenon, and in a very specific way. It was to be in the dead of night, with a blue-black darkness as a backdrop and only the slight ruffle of wind for noise, curled up against a lover on the soft rug we had placed on the dewy grass earlier in the evening.

But I didn’t have my lover, or any grass, or a comfortable rug, and it certainly wasn’t quiet or even entirely dark. Indeed, if you squinted hard enough, you could see the lights from our camp. Instead of my ideal, I had a fellow traveller lying beside me that I had met only three days prior, a mattress close to falling apart, plenty of warm desert sand, wild dogs barking and territorial in the distance, and a cup of sweet, sweet Bedouin tea. It wasn’t my dream, but it was perfect nonetheless.

I saw my star in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert, an area of protected natural beauty where sections of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed. A place of tranquility, calm and an abundance of stars and moonlight once the night settles in. I saw my star after the lovely woman I was with pointed out the Big Dipper constellation and as I tried to find Orion’s Belt. We both got excited, because even though she’s seen many (including two over the weekend as we camped under the stars in Wadi Musa), it still felt magical.

I asked for the same thing I always ask for when I blow out candles on my birthday, or when I pray or when, years ago when I would eat meat, me and my Dad would fight for the wishbone of the chicken my Grandma had roasted for Sunday lunch. Yet when I saw the second shooting star, only a short while after the first, I made another wish – one that I never thought I’d make, and one which, deep down, I’m not sure will come true no matter how much I may desire it.


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