City lights and stars

Ben lay on his back with his arms behind his head, staring at the sky.

“I’ve never seen so many stars in the sky before,” my cousin said.

I’ll never forget it. I might have been 7 or 8, but I’ll never forget it. It’s when my perception of the world around me began to change.

I couldn’t imagine not seeing that many stars when looking at the night sky. But, since Ben grew up in the outskirts of Seattle, the lights from the city drowned everything else out. I never appreciated them as much because I saw them on a regular basis.

That has changed.

The stars really stood out tonight to me in the northern Pennsylvania sky. I just haven’t seen them in awhile, what with the bright lights surrounding me and the lack of places to go and simply see them.

I see the stars with brand new eyes on nights like tonight.

And I always think of Ben.

An insomniac’s tick

Oh hey, 2:30 a.m. Nice to see you again for the fourth or fifth time this week.

My mother has insisted that the candle in my window be on a timer. The timer ticks. Anything that ticks makes me tick. She knows this. But, at least I don’t have to turn my candle on every night. I’ll just turn my fan up a notch and hope the noise will wash away the ticks.

I had trouble sleeping as a young girl. “You think too much at night,” my mom would say. Why wouldn’t I? There’s so much to think about. My brain never stops.

I’d stay up late, light candles and write poetry. On balmy nights, I took to my favorite haunt: the roof outside my window, the one above the garage. With my pillow under my head, I’d look at the sky or watch over a sleepy neighborhood. Sometimes I’d have brief visions of falling off, hitting the driveway and cracking my head open, but they never came true.

Once or twice I stayed up all night to sit on the roof and watch the sun rise. I’d carefully crawl up the incline and perch at the top to watch the blue turn to pale pink. All by myself. Just my thoughts and me. The birds joined with the sunrise, but I never minded.

I’d stay up until two, three, four o’clock, just reading the book I’d retrieved by riding my bicycle to the library. Down one big hill, up another; all for an endless supply of books. My library card gave me the power to finish what The Boxcar Children started and learn many life lessons through Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice series. I had to stay up and finish my Nancy Drew book to solve the mystery. And with Laura Ingalls, I had to be sure she and Ma, Pa, Mary, Caroline and Grace were going to be okay before setting the book down. Don’t even get me started on Harry Potter. We all know how that goes.

It’s a rainy and windy first “morning” of winter. I wouldn’t dare venture out onto the roof, though it would be an easy feat with the screens off my windows. I already read as much as I could of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’m not writing poetry, but at least I’m writing something. Some things never change, I guess.

While the rest of the country is obsessing over end-of-the-world hashtags, I’m just thinking that, in 24 hours, I’ll be doing this same exact thing.

Use toilet. Wash face. Brush teeth. Pull back covers and settle into sleeping mode. Read bits of good book. Put book down.

Toss.

Turn.

Turn light back on. Initiate productivity.

Oh hey, 3 a.m., nice to see you again! Time to sleep.

Everything is connected and beautiful

It was beautiful. The snow glittered in the light the streetlamp gave off and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. He held my hand as we trudged across his yard, he in his boots and me in my Converse high tops. After awhile, I couldn’t handle it anymore, and he noticed. He scooped me up and carried me to our destination: the swings.

I immediately felt disappointment upon arriving. I saw that I couldn’t swing because the snow was so high that the necessary pumping would be impossible. He, wanting to fix the problem, set about trying to fling the swing over the bar to make the chains go up a little higher. When he couldn’t do it, I settled on the lowly swing (my pew, to those who read my poetry…oh wait, you don’t), and straightened my legs as he pushed me toward the tree. He stumbled and fell when he was pushing me, and I swung back and ended up on top of him. We got soaked, but couldn’t help but laugh. I kissed him, kept laughing, and then Becky and Thad came over to assist us after witnessing the whole thing.

Thad had a different way of getting the swing to go over the bar, so when he failed his first try, Robby tried the new method, and succeeded. I was finally free to swing without the snow on the ground interfering.

It was just like it had been over the summer, only so different. I can’t believe I sat on the same exact swing over the summer without knowing whose backyard I was practically in; without knowing that I would soon fall hard for the boy who lives in that yellow house. Because I am falling. Hard. And I know that once I’ve fallen all the way, he’ll be there to catch me so I don’t smash into a million pieces upon welcoming the ground with my body. He’ll be there to keep me safe as he has been doing for the past month and a half of my life. Since that night he stopped my tears and made me laugh. Since that night, I realized that there was something special about him.

After I got too high up for him to push me anymore, I looked at the tree whose leaves I had kicked over the summer. Things had definitely changed, but it was a beautiful change. The cold air pierced my exposed hands and bit into them, giving them more sore and dry cracks, but I didn’t care. It felt so good to swing after months of not having the chance to.

I slowed down, and he greeted me with a kiss. That’s the best greeting I could have asked for. It showed that I had left one dreamland and entered another one.

We trudged through the snow again, holding hands and looking up at the stars. It’s a beautiful thing. But then again, everything has been beautiful lately. To me, anyway.

The end

Today is over. It came and went. Everything that I predicted came true, but there were also a few twists.

I woke up at ten o’clock, just like any other gorgeous summer morning. I rolled around on my bed for a little while before I decided that it really was time to get up. No use wasting the day, right?

The sky today was crystal clear, as was yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. Absolutely no clouds in sight. I wallowed around the house, munching a bowl full of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and looking out the window. I finally stepped outside at one o’clock to get my hair cut.

I walked out of The Chop Shop (local hair place – run by a family friend) a whole new person, my hair shorter and more wild with curls. Of course, I had to ruin it by putting it into tiny little piggy tails for cross country practice.

Practice was hell. H-E-double-hockey sticks. We ran over to Prison Hill, and did hill repeats… In the blistering heat. We did six and then my friend and I ran back to the school together with our shirts lifted up, trying to catch even the slightest hint of a breeze.

I got home and took a dip in the pool (which was FREEZING), and then made breffast fo’ dinna. I barely had enough energy to enjoy the meal I had made, I was so wiped out from practice.

As promised, after dinner my mother drove me to the gravel pit to get a good view of the sun drowning in the sky. We had a hard time getting a good view without burning our eyes out of our sockets, but we eventually settled in and watched the sun disappear.

Now, here I am. My tummy is full, my body is tired, and my eyes are droopy with sleepiness. My hair is wild, my nails are perfectly groomed and polished, and my eyebrows have been plucked to perfection (by who else but moi?). My mother is talking on the phone behind me, I hear the sounds of the TV displaying baseball in the next room, watched by who else but my baseball-crazed dad. I can hear the movie my brother is watching from here because of the insane surround sound system he hooked up. I am tired, and there are noises all around me. I am so glad that I actually did keep my promise and watch the sunset, but now, all I want to do is curl up with a book and read until I am cross-eyed. My body is tired, and I am ready to retire to my bedroom where I will greet the new day. My friend instant messaged me and asked me if I am ready for hell tomorrow. I guess I will have to live through a day and decide whether this year will be hell or not. As of now, I really cannot judge.

Quote of the day:

“When it rains, it fricken pours!”