It's my first time camping directly under the stars. I've spent countless nights in tents, tiny huts, and dilapidated hostels around the world. But I've never rolled out my sleeping bag and spent an entire night with only the sky as my shield.
The open space strikes me. I forget how impossible it is to be alone in New York City—to find open space. I try to think of the last time I was truly alone in the city, and struggle. A lowly subway platform late at night? One rare stretch of sidewalk on an early morning run? Since when was I away from towering buildings, the insatiable appetite for movement, of greyness?
All of this is so entangled in my daily Being, yet now it's a mysterious distance from my mind. Like a tiny buoy floating in the sea, I am uncertain of how close or far some things really are from me.
Here I am in the incredible Uinta Mountains with an incredible person by my side. The cold mountain air circulates through my body, creating more space between muscle and skin. Unlike an east coast cold, which carves into bones, cold from the west is soft.
I lay my sleeping bag out and fold my body in its warmth. The sun has tucked far behind the peaks and passes, and we're now escaping the 40 degree air. I look up at the sky ablaze with stars, each starting or ending its life. I have no intention to, but I start to cry. I think I'm just overwhelmed with the delicate intensity of sky. It swallows me in safeness.
I see a shooting star. I roll next to Elliot and continue to gaze up while my chin rests on his sleeping pad and he pulls his hands through my hair. I let everything go, and feel whole.
I never sleep well my first night camping. But this time I don't care. Every few hours I wake up and look up, almost anticipating a sadness when dawn eventually hits—which it does. It's nearly six am when the birds get up with me. The orchestra of mountain chickadees, grey jays, and brewer's sparrows sing some sort of melody to one another. A chipmunk (which I've spotted earlier, and have named Steven) visits me, this time coming a few feet from my nose. We share a moment before he skirts away once again—seemingly terrified. Or just onto the next adventure.
I look up to the ascending trail behind us, and see two elk trot through the trees. I want nothing but to see a moose.
Elliot wakes up and I ask him to bring me one. He begins calling out ("here, Moosey, Moosey") which for whatever reason doesn't work. I am satisfied with the birds and with Steven. We think about getting up, but the sun hasn't risen over the rocks. It's still cold. We fall back to sleep and finally squirm out of our sleeping bags when the sun strikes our eyes.
How insane it is to wake up like this. How near-perfect. With no agenda, our morning moves as slowly as air can fill eternal space. There's an endless opportunity to not go anywhere, which is maybe more advancement than I realize.
We make coffee on a tiny stove, eat apples, and wrap sardines in flour tortillas. I drink fresh water from the lake. I read, I sit, I look for Steven.
Usually there is so much around me to grab hold of,
to want and to desire. I should climb that peak, I should run farther. I should do more, I should be more. Let me fill the spaces.
But this time I just want to sit in the space. And that's enough. Maybe that is everything.