The streetlights are bright along here, but the harsh glare is diminished slightly when I stand in my backyard. There, I can look up at the night sky and actually see it for what it is. The stars glitter as they always do, the moon goes through its phases, and the flashing lights of passing airplanes remind me that someone, somewhere, is off doing something, is having an adventure, is living their life.
How I used to envy such people when I was a kid, standing outside at night, looking up. We lived on a farm, far from bright city lights, and when I'd walk beyond the reach of the porch light, I was surrounded by an inky, unknown world. Everything was where it should be, but all our cars, the trees in the yard, the ruts in the lane, all took on a slightly menacing appearance as they were illuminated by nothing but the bone-white light of the moon. And some nights, the moon was dark.
On those nights, the only thing guiding me were the stars themselves, so far away, so indifferent to earthly concerns. But then there would be a moving star, a flashing light, an airplane making its way to wherever it may be going. There were people on board that thing, and without knowing it, they had passed my way, and our lives had, briefly and obliquely, intersected.
"Take me with you," I would think. "Let me be there for all your comings and goings. Take me from this place. Let me see the world."
How could I have known what awaited me? It took awhile, but I had all those adventures I wanted so much back then. I've ridden in planes at night, flying indifferently over vast expanses of nothingness. I've traveled, I've seen things, I've lived. Oh, and loved, too, and lost, and had everything I've cared about taken away. I've done things and seen things I could never have imagined as I stood there at the end of the lane, alone and in the dark, longing for another world.
And now, with all the weight of this accumulated experience, I still stand in the darkness looking up at the sky. Lights blink, a plane passes by. I have no desire to go wherever it is going. I'm fine right here.