Last night Drew and I did the most remarkable thing. We sat outside in the dark and looked at the stars. Perhaps sitting outside and looking at the night sky is not such a remarkable thing, but after 7 years of city street light pollution, being able to sit in absolute darkness at home and see the sky was something that we both reveled in.
I grew up in two places, and in each one if the moon wasn’t full, you likely couldn’t see the end of your nose once the sun went down. It was the kind of darkness that the author types like to call inky and velvety and blanketed and complete. It was the kind of darkness that almost made you motion sick when the fireflies were out in the summer because their black backdrop was so complete that the landscape would be alive with an incomprehensible number of fireflies making their sexy blinks at one another and there was no way for your eyes to focus on the mayhem of movement in front of you. If the moon was full, it was dark enough that you weren’t just staring at the busty globe over your head, but marveling at all that you could actually see at your feet. We would have sleepovers in my friend Lisa’s yard and be able to see the stark lines of the barn by her house and the delicate silver reflection of the tin roof showing off for the moon and for us. When there is light in a place that days before had little to none, you take notice.
I have become increasingly afraid of the dark as I’ve gotten older. Too many crime dramas and books have filled my brain and made me suspicious of closed shower curtains and unlit hallways. I work constantly to undo this, especially now that Drew works nights, but it’s something of a losing battle. Last night, sitting in the yard in darkness, staring at the sky and talking so openly with each other (another benefit of not being able to see…it’s a total confession booth), I realized that I’m not really afraid of the dark, I’m anxious about being inside at night. Where my heart rate might rise at the thought of walking down a hallway with no light, walking across the yard in the same conditions just made me feel at home.
For the last seven years, I have loved riding bikes downtown and being able to ‘just run out‘ and having friends around the corner. I liked having food delivered and trash picked up and a mailbox attached to my front door. I liked being able to walk to the store and the park and anywhere else that we might need to get in the event of needing to get somewhere. I realized though last night that I didn’t like any of that stuff nearly as much as I like sitting in the open air at night, having to raise our voices just a little to drown out those squeaky-wheel cicadas and having the sense of total aloneness.
We’re not nearly as far out in the country as the houses that I grew up in, but there’s enough land now to feel alone and see the sky and let our conversation be interrupted by the sudden arch of a shooting star that always startles you no matter how hard you’re looking for it. We’re far enough out that the night is dark again.