Here’s to Those that Wish Us Well

It’s hard to see the stars from home.

There’s too much light, too many reasons to stay inside at night — but here, it’s different. Here, we are standing on the shore of a rocky beach, and it’s pitch-black even though it’s only 10:30, and “Wow,” I say, “you really can see the stars from here.”

You really can. I don’t remember the last time I went stargazing, but looking up, I’m disappointed in myself for not doing it more. A patchwork of pin-pricked stars stretches to the horizon. Two of the brightest flicker in and out, tinted red and then blue, and I assume they are airplanes until someone mentions they’re probably planets instead. It makes me feel small, wondering if a sky-watcher on a distant shore has just been told the same thing about us.

Together, we find the Big Dipper and Polaris. I don’t know anything about constellations, but Matt does, and he stretches his finger out to trace Cassiopeia like a jagged scar in the night sky.

Draco is harder to place. Once I finally think I can make out his trapezoid head and long, winding tail, Anne grabs my arm, whispering in my ear that she’s found him too. She eagerly points up at a different cluster of stars than I was considering, and I have to laugh because we are so human in that moment.

I read once that our constellations only look like constellations from Earth, because the dots we try to connect are light years away from each other. The Little Dipper doesn’t exist if you are anywhere but here.

And yet, here we are. There are seven of us, huddled in a group on the beach, trying to make sense of the sky together. We crane our necks to seek out old patterns with young eyes; we whisper secrets and trust each other to keep them. We look at the same stars and see different stories. No matter the odds, we keep making something out of nothing, like we always have. Like we always will.

Once we get back to our campsite, I send a text: We just came back from stargazing.

A few seconds later, a reply: Tell me all about it.

So I do.