On shooting stars
“They feel like magic,” whispered little bird.
“That’s because they are,” replied fox. “As are you.”
Thoughts while making
I grew up not far from the ocean in San Diego. When I was little, my folks would regularly pack up the family and haul us east. Over the Cuyamaca Mountains, deep into the Anza-Borrego desert.
Most of my memories of those early trips come from stories told years later, cast in the warm glow of my family’s 35mm slide projector. But not all them. One memory could never have been caught on film.
You know that feeling when you wake up in the middle night and you have to go to the bathroom? You lay there, not sleeping, not really awake, in this state of struggle? When you finally do get up isn’t that feeling of tucking back under the covers kind of amazing?
I rarely got out of bed at night. I was really scared of the dark. So you can imagine that – in a desert where howling coyotes lulled me to sleep – the idea of getting up to pee was wildly unappealing. . One night, however, I didn’t have a choice. I literally couldn’t hold it any longer. I slowly unzipped the tent, imagining what awfulness was waiting for me as I poked my head through the tent flap.
And that’s when I came eye to eye with something I will never forget.
Stars, so many stars. Big and little. Near and far. Everywhere I looked. Laying on the ground beside me. Resting on distant mountain tops. Like I could reach out and run my fingers through them, like phosphorescence, like fireflies, like love.
I stood there then. The world utterly still. The night holding me in this sea of light. In that moment, feeling both small and infinite. And vulnerable. And brave.
That desert is one of my favorite places in the world. As an adult, I’ve returned there many times, camping alone under those same stars; always remembering that feeling.
Where’s your magical place?