that live in large cities like I do often talk about the things that they
miss about living "out in the country"-- defined as any area
not populated with 500 people per square foot. The most talked-about disadvantage
about living in NYC is the lack of green. Everywhere you look, concrete
buildings surround you, nothing but gray gray gray. "We want trees!
We want lawns of our own! I can't stand looking out my window and seeing
only another building one minute longer!!"
For me, that's not my gripe. If I need a green fix, I head over
to Washington Square or down to the brand-spankin' new Robert F. Wagner
Park on the Hudson. For me, the thing that I miss most about living in
other places is the stars. Looking up at night and seeing eight million
little tiny pinpricks of light up there. I don't know what my fascination
is, bug it's a draw that aches away every time I'm up on my roof at night.
It started back in elementary school, I think, when the gifted program
I was involved in ran an astronomy section during the fall and winter
months one year. I was sucked right into the whole thing, and my Uncle
Charlie supported my newfound fascination by lending me his high-powered
telescope and a book called 365 Starry Nights. I remember studying the
stars for hours on end; my dad and I used to drive way out to the planetarium
for the astronomy program and certain special events that were held. One
time I remember really specifically -- me and Dad waiting in line for
what seemed like an eternity just to get a really good look at the Red
Spot of Jupiter.
Now... now... now...
Now I got out on my roof and see a blurry haze of light blue where
a black, lent-speckled blanket should be. When it's cloudy, the sky is
a fuzzy shade of peach from the mercury lights of the city, holding vigil
throughout the night. In the summer, when I used to spend entire nights
just staring up (even through college), the haze of the city dulls the
sky, stars, buildings. It isn't me sharing myself with all the glory of
that above me; instead, it's my squinting into the fluff of the city nighttime
looking for Orion's Belt in the soup. Don't get me wrong -- I love living
here and was prepared to make the sacrifices of space and green things.
But not the night sky... I wasn't ready to let go of my personal freeze-framed