We spread out on the grass, the lake far away and silky. Finally, after months of staring up at mirrored city glass, I could see stars. A 3 year old boy slept beside his mother on the blanket with me. The plan had been to wake him to see the naked night sky for the first time, but his dreams were proving too heavy. With the exception of a few months, I’ve spent most of my life in places populated with over a million people. I’m intimately acquainted with the light-polluted night sky and it’s smattering of maybe-satellite maybe-stars. Not that the city is without beauty. Lonely cubes of light brighten endless shafts of glass. Red flashes burst from tower tops in silent warning to passing aircraft.
But these urban delights are no match for the night sky. To see the milky way poured across your eyes and swim in its barely perceptible movement is to locate yourself in time and space. It is to recognize that truly, in the scale of all existence, you, your problems, your fears, are fucking nothing. It’s a good thing to remember.
It took maybe 30 minutes for the boy to move. His mother spoke at the pace of the stars.
“Look up. Look up.”
A frustrated grunt. He was awake.
“Do you see the stars?”
Affirmation whimpered from the grass.
“How many?” she asked.
A full minute passed as his eyes finally adjusted. I could hear the stars oozing into his consciousness, that sound the earth makes when you’re close enough to hear it.
“So many,” he said.
A few moments later he was in the back seat of the car, fast asleep. I walked to the lake, dipped my paddle into the sky, and rippled to bed.