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365 Starry Nights
by deanna

       People 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 fireworks.

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