But this is about an evening. Some moments in an evening, actually. We had only been in an apartment complex on Mount View in Schofield for a few weeks, and for some reason sleep had been difficult. My bedroom was smaller than I was used to, and I was sleeping on the lower bunk of a heavy wooden set of bunk beds. It was a very balmy June evening, one not quite warm enough to prompt mom to turn the air conditioner on, but kept me under a single sheet as I struggled to find slumber somewhere.
As I often did back then, long before sharing a bed with another, I wandered to fight off insomnia. I sat up, in my sweat pants and tee-shirt, yawned, and trekked over to my small bedroom window.
The sky looked odd. Strange enough to stir a weird and uncomfortable feeling in my gut.
What the hell is going on up there?
I pulled my shoes out from under my bed and made my way down the hall and out of our apartment entrance. It was the middle of the night, the witching hour, so I was as quiet as I could be as I walked out the pair of huge heavy doors that constituted the entrance to the apartment building. There was a large empty field adjacent to the complex that I made use of. When friends and family came, we threw the ball around out there for hours, played pick up football games, occasionally pitched tents for an evening of sleep outdoors. I walked out to the middle of this grassy anomaly, surrounded by other apartment buildings, a large quantity of deciduous trees, and a quiet, seldom used road. It was then, with a Coke in my hand, that I looked straight up into the sky.
And spilled the Coke that I had just opened.
The stars. I had never seen so many in one place, and thought skies like this were impossible. Unless it was an image on TV that I always thought was somehow doctored, even long before the era of PhotoShop. I no longer felt that way. It wasn't just the sheer volume of stars, it was the way they were positioned across the sky in waves and in clusters, both crystal clear and soft-lens blurred. this created a twinkling glow that wasn't like a full moon but provided enough light to make out my surroundings....
I rubbed my eyes. Closed them. Rubbed them once more and looked back up.
Nope, still there.
Good God, it was beautiful. It looked like someone has spread the astral bodies across the sky with a butter knife. I'd never seen it like that before, and don't know that I ever have since. I'd read somewhere that northern midwest skies are sometimes given to unnatural clarity and even appearances of the Northern Lights, which years later I would actually see myself resulting in more spills. (that's another story) But here above my head, was the proof. Those skies that I had always chalked up to special effects and visual man-made magic were not only possible....
but right in front of my face.
I don't know how long I stood there. It may have been an hour. I was afraid it would never happen again so I wanted to cement in my memory as much as humanly possible. My only regret was given the late hour, I had no one to share it with. No one would believe this when I relayed it in the morning.
But as the years have gone by, I'm kind of glad that I have it to myself.