In Iowa, the night sky is brilliant—thousands of tiny white specks blinking and dancing across a midnight black. So much of my twenties was spent in backs of pickup trucks, on dusty gravel roads, on rooftops, or peeking through car windows at the magnificence of that Midwest sky.
There was something about the brightness that humbled me. In looking up, I was so small—and that simple fact seemed to ground me somehow.
The California sky is different. Less black, and the stars a softer white. A year and a half of watching sunsets fade into darkness and it doesn’t quite feel like home. But I still trace the constellations from my bedroom window, wondering if 2,500 miles away you’re doing the same.
The night sky brings a silence I’m still learning to accept. Sort of like distance, and how I’m learning to accept you not being here for all the big and little moments. Sort of like love, and how I’m learning to accept there are some things you just can’t anticipate, just can’t plan.
I’ve always been afraid of the future. Always been afraid of things I can’t hold within my palms, make sense of within the folds of my mind.
You were like that—never mysterious, but always a mystery. We walked for two hours around that little beach town the night we met and your stories poured out like water. I was doing my best to keep my head above the current, but what I really wanted was to let go and just float.
We stopped on the pier by the ocean, watched the waves crash into the shore. I remember thinking about how scary and uncharted that water was—how maybe this was a metaphor for love, for life—all the beauty and yet so much still unknown.
I watched the waves sparkle under the moon. They mirrored the sky, one circle of beautiful, illuminated darkness surrounding us. And for the first time in a long while, I wasn’t afraid.
We fell in love slowly, or maybe it wasn’t slow at all. Sometimes these sort of feelings just creep up on you. I remember the exact moment I told you—you were talking about your dreams and I couldn’t keep the ‘I love you’ from bubbling up in my chest.
I spoke the words to life under that California sky, underneath those soft white constellations and all their stories and promise. And maybe that moment is another metaphor in itself.
We are like stars—there’s a chance we might burn out. There’s a chance the universe knows our destiny, knows we’re meant to fade before the light years even reach us.
There’s a chance our brightness won’t warm one another forever.
But if I am a star, and my time is impermanent, I want to keep burning for you.