I have never seen anything more beautiful. She is lying on top of me, on my back I mean, ( it’s not that personal of an essay) because I am on my stomach, stretched out on a few sleeping bags, none of which belong to me. My neck hurts because I have been craning it in an awkward position for about 15 minutes now, staring up at the sky at the first meteor shower I have ever seen. The hum of voices that arises from the 60-odd teenagers camped out under the open sky ebbs and flows, peaking with a chorus of “oohs,” peppered by the occasional “ahh” at every passing shooting star. We are a short walk from a lake, but bound in by hills that loom larger than mountains without the sun to put things into perspective. I feel her shift around as she moves her mouth closer to my ear and whispers the very thought that had just crossed into my own mind, “I have to go poo.” After pausing to reflect on my apparent psychic powers, I rotate my head around so that I can see her better. “Same,” I whisper back, but we don’t really have to whisper, as what I could once have described as a “hum” has now grown to a buzz, and everyone around us is distracted by the sky anyways. She rolls off me and makes her way to the base of the hill on the left while I scramble to find some shoes.
We climb (read: walk on rocks that are slightly inclined) up the hill, then turn to go down the face of it, winding our way through the brush and hoping we don’t trip and tumble down the rest, as it’s gotten significantly more steep as we’ve made our way down. When we reach the bottom, the first thing I notice is the complete and total lack of noise. This silence does not feel heavy or awkward, as it can sometimes, but all encompassing, and a very stark contrast to our surroundings not more than three minutes earlier. Every word we speak seems to be swallowed up by the air and the trees around us, so we speak very little. Our eyes are glued to the sky as soon as we notice that it is free of trees and completely open, but I look down and notice that I am still holding her hand from our treacherous trek down. As we unwind our fingers, the understanding that we soon must part ways for a moment passes through us, and we turn to head in opposite directions. I find a nice spot near a fallen tree branch and take a deep breath.
The sky is littered with stars, like a face with more freckles than not, more beautiful than any overused metaphor about diamonds. Every 20 seconds or so a shooting star bursts its way through the sky, taking my breath along with it. The meteors are just small dots moving across the sky, but they are a reminder that the universe is so much bigger and more beautiful than I could possibly imagine. Acting like more of a wild animal than I ever do in my normal life, I feel so connected to the world around me. Not just to the trees that stretch out endlessly in front of me or to the stars that do the same above me, but like the heart that beats at the center of the universe has synced up with mine, and I am no longer small, alone, and insignificant. Just small. Her approaching footsteps break my trance, but I still need another minute to revel in the beauty of it all (well, actually to finish up business), so I call out to her to let her know. I hear her mumbled apology with a stifled embarrassed giggle, and as the sound of branches breaking under her feet gets farther away, I know I am unaccompanied again. A few, focused, minutes later I walk back to meet her at the base of the path up the hill, but instead of turning to go, we face the open sky and sit down, not wanting the moment to end. Going back up the hill does not mean saying goodbye to the stars, but to the stillness, and we don’t want to give that up quite yet. I put my arm around her and she sighs and rests her head on my shoulder. Our breathing settles and syncs up, and I feel like I could watch the shooting stars forever as what must be the 50th one I’ve seen that evening glides by.
I have given up on wishing at this point.