by Jennifer on December 11, 2008

Watching the moon at midnight, solitary, mid-sky, I knew myself completely, no part left out.

-Izumi Shikubu

I just came back inside – my cheeks are still cold – from my new favorite spot for ending a day. Last night and tonight, I’ve perched myself on two chairs – sitting in one, my feet propped on another – for half an hour, an hour, long enough, not long enough by far.

The night sky is a thing I need. I can’t explain, and don’t really need to, I suppose – if you get it, you get it. You know. We all have something that soothes us, and for me it’s this.

And tonight, I ache.

That’s it, in simple words. And if I write about these odd things I do to level myself, it’s because I can’t always tell you what drives me to the edge, but at least I can say what pulls me back.

Last night, when I first went out, I leaned back so my head fell back over the edge of the chair and the northeast sky looked upside down. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the first shooting star. At first, I thought I was wrong, that the moon was too bright to see meteors. So I turned myself around look to the northeast and, within minutes, I saw another. Five minutes later, one more. In a half hour, I saw five in all.

By then – by the time I saw the first one, even – I had let go of some of the ache, of some of the tears that came from whatever deep place tears wait and rest until we can’t keep them in anymore.

How do you separate the new pain from the old, the heavy from the light, the close from the far? You can’t tell, looking at the sky, the distance between you and stars, or look at a river and know how deep it is.

This ache, I can’t tell you much at all about it. It’s a mash of disappointment, fear, waiting, of feeling unsettled, of all the small pains. Of feeling like there aren’t any answers for the questions I have, and the questions aren’t even questions. They just are. It’s the struggle to turn those things into something solid, a rope to pull myself out of my sadness, a ladder to climb to a place where I can see and breathe and feel for one goddamn minute like I’m above it all. To stop feeling like the only thing between me and an angry, hungry bear is a pane of glass.To stop the voice in my head that tells me I’m alone. I’m alone. I’m alone.

To climb high enough to see that it’s beautiful, this life, if you look at it from end to end, from one horizon to the other.

To navigate my sadness hand over hand, never looking down, on this ladder made of starshine.

Tonight, the sky was quiet. I sat there for an hour, hoping to see more of the meteor shower from the night before. Nothing. Finally, cold and exhausted from the day, I walked to the middle of the yard for a last look at the moon. At that very moment, a bright, so bright, meteor flared right above me, between Orion and the almost-full moon. The reason I stress how bright it was, how bright it had to be for me to see it, is because of where it was in relation to all that moonlight.

If you saw me at that moment, you would have thought I was a crazy person. If you saw me, in my yard at midnight, with a blanket around my shoulders, the way I looked up at the sky like I hadn’t eaten in days.

If you saw me laugh and burst into tears, all at once.

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