Wednesday, August 6, 2014

81. Meteor Showers

When I was 17, I attended high school in a very northern part of Maine. This part of Maine was so very Northern that we weren't quite sure whether we were the United States or Canada anymore, and frankly it didn't really matter. The upshot of being so far North was that we got to fully allow ourselves to revel in the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights, for the uneducated, occur when the sun vomits excessively all over our atmosphere, causing a beautiful rainbow of sun-star bile barf. It's enchanting.

There was one instance in the fall of 2003, when the sun must have eaten somethig particularly upsetting to the basic star digestve system. I was in Northern Maine at the time, and not only were the lights absolutely beautiful, it also happened when I was 17, which meant that it was imbued with all sorts of intense meaning as everything is wont to do when you're 17. As a teenager, a tiny bit of mold on the corner of your ham sandwich can easily be interpreted as a harbinger of the apocalypse. This is the crux of the glory and horror of being a young adult: everything is exciting... and everything is stressful.

I found an old livejournal blog entry from that night that I wrote as a 17-year-old, and I will include it at the end of this post, so that you can be sure to exercise all of the muscles in your skull from the resultant eye-rolling. 

The reason I bring it up is because: although long distance hiking affords one many beautiful views of the stars and our galaxy, last year during my thru hike I got to experience something that even my teenage emotional slam-poet self wouldn't have been able to describe.

We were on the top of Smarts Mountain last summer, which was the tallest mountain for many miles in every single direction. The horizon enveloped us like an upside-down bowl. There was a fire tower on the top of the peak, raising our tiny human bodies even above the reaching fingertips of the trees, allowing us an unimpeded view of the world in 3D. And this was the night of the Perseid meteor shower.

As each meteor hurled itself against the atmosphere, burning up more brilliantly than a Disney child actor, my hiking family and I sat in silence, watching the sky fall around us. There were so many that I couldn't hope to see them all, I just had to pick one direction and stare intently that way, to see all the streaks of descending light falling in that part of the sky.

I'd never felt so small and so big at the same time. 

Not even when I was 17.

If you're the sort of person who might judge an adolescent's feelings-soaked ramblings, please do not proceed further. But if you can take this sort of thing in good humor and allow all your mocking to be exercised in the aforementioned intense eye-rolling, feel free to proceed.

I want to include this because in spite of its silliness, I think it captures the sort of indescribable adolescent joy that comes from being in the presence of something that reminds us that we are not actually the center of the universe.

Clever Girl


Maybe there is something to be made of all the typical awe-inspiring aspects of the world around us and yet we turn our backs to them saying how pisshaaw, how perfectly predictable,

how incredible

and in the back of our eyes the sky is reflected upside down in the way of lights we never thought were supposed to be there, but are, you see, so very much are spanning the entire expanse of this endless upside-down world above our heads

and we crane our necks to look for the source

and it just doesn't end

it's reds and greens and blues and it's a curtain rippling so slowly in a wind I feel whistling though these holes in me ears but I can't hear it, all I hear is my breath and the one two one two one two beat of a rhythm of a heart that might not even be mine but belonging to nothing but this but these but Oh! 

I turn a full circle, I'm still exhausted from running, but it just keeps on going and it all comes together from a culmination in the center where the fingers meet and the black sky is only black for a speck of moment in [neverchanging] time but constant above me, I'm scared too, I don't want to know the future, I don't want it to be certain, and don't want anything but this, I reach up like a child for a balloon and I reach with fingers that don't belong to me and I reach and I laugh and the forgotten space between my bones is crying and I can feel it echo in my jaw and vibrate the 


ground beneath my feet

There are no words to form this anticipation to exultation of this exhalation to this syncopation of some alternate creation for which I'm always somehow seeking for a certain way to step 

I can't feel it but I know it I know this I know you

they say you can never go back

but I've never seen them like this.

No comments:

Post a Comment