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March 20, 2017

It sounds odd, but I think my first real friend was the moon.

As a child, I would look to her during night time car rides. She was always there, following the old green Pathfinder. And I would ask my mom, “How is it possible that the moon is always there?” And my mother would tell me that loyal friends always are. I am not sure what was so fascinating about the moon. It was something shiny, and wondrous and reliable. Or perhaps it was how small it made me feel. Not belittled, but it positively minimized my own problems. It was a distracting, glorious, natural occurrence that was just so large it made the billowing anxieties in my head settle down. I’ve thought about the moon probably more than the average person. But, there was one night where it was on everyone’s minds.

I spent the summer in another world. Israel is far from my house but felt just like home. I had never been before. I was there for five weeks with my camp friends, by far the best people I have ever known. When we first arrived in the country, we stayed in a hostile for a few days, and then we drove out to the middle of the Negev Desert for our first hiking excursion. I felt very apprehensive on our way there, fearing that I wouldn’t be able to handle the hikes, the heat, spending the night in only a sleeping bag, or the 4:30 am wakeup time. Even surrounded by all my friends (who were in the same situation), my anxiety and concern filled my head and I feared more than anything that I would grow lonely during the dark nights.

The first day came and went. At dusk, the one hundred plus kids ate around fires together and we were later instructed to get some sleep. My 10 friends and I made a circle of our dingy sleeping bags, heads in the middle. I crawled inside, beads of desert sweat accumulating on my face already. My hair was matted. My feet were sore. My problems felt like they were swallowing the moments that I was supposed to be enjoying. I layed my head on a balled up sweatshirt. That’s when I saw it.

A familiar face comforted me in my suppressed panic. The face of the moon, large and all encompassing. She was glowing a soft yellow, and was full and round. I saw the moon and the moon saw me. I felt the warmth of her light manifest in the pit of my stomach. My mood changed instantly. My friends noticed this Van Gogh-esque scene also; I could hear the wonder and awe in their voices. But I didn’t engage; I layed there and stared at the sight before me. The stars were magnificent. The sheer number of them blew my mind, I had never seen so many at once before. They were flung onto the blackness so liberally - the perfect, beautiful amount, like the dusting of reddish brown freckles onto someone’s shoulders. They glimmered and shone at every angle. I felt my eyes travelling from one end of the sky to the other and failing, as this whole picture was endless. They were the whole world. The moon and her stars, dancing and comforting me.

This entire admiration probably lasted two minutes, but it felt cosmic, infinite. My eyes welled up with teardrops of silver. I felt so poignantly touched in that moment. I then noticed how my previous concerns and worries had drifted away the second I noticed this wonder. My first friend, Luna, hung suspended in the jet black night, the stars twinkling infinitely. I realized the only thing smaller than one of those stars was me. I felt microscopic, in the best way, entangled uncomfortably in the fabric. My problems afloat in another galaxy, I wiped my tears, turned over, and drifted to sleep - wrapped in the warm glow of an old friend.

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