It’s getting closer to midnight, my eyes are growing heavier, and after I finish some online homework I’m off to collect armfuls of blankets and maybe even a few stuffed animals. It’s cold tonight, and there’s a tent waiting for me in the backyard, so I have to be prepared with plenty of warmth in order to survive.
Why a tent when I have a messy top bunk piled with pillows? My sisters finally kicked me out of our bedroom—they’re tired of hearing me mutter to myself at three in the morning. I can’t say I blame them, and sleeping in the tent will be fun anyways. A few stars are out, the moon is wrapped in a hazy sheet of clouds, and if you squint your eyes you can see the yard glowing dimly with a vague pink light.
If I freeze and die in my own backyard, somebody please make sure my dog inherits my ukulele.
There are so many little thoughts to consider, and sometimes they all flood my mind at once. Like how irrational decimals go on forever in a non-repeating pattern, numbers spiraling, never repeating, weaving eternally irregular paths through an infinite numerical expanse. Through math, we learn to understand the universe, which is extremely beautiful and also probably why I don’t understand the universe.
Some of the thoughts are bigger than others, like how we went from trying not to be scared of a mass shooting in the grocery store to stiffening in uncertainty behind our masks whenever another human steps too close. And how astounding it truly is, the way that far away people can be so close while nearby people can be so far away.
It’s a lot to notice, like how turning on the light in a room can shatter an entire moment and how turning it off paints time in a gray softness once more. How calluses become harder on your fingertips and the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet as you live and grow and run and create and trip on sharp rocks and burn your hands on the oven and tune a guitar over and over and over until it sounds right.
How a child stretches onto tiptoes to scrawl with green-marker urgency across the whiteboard, reminding us to feed the hummingbirds. How every strand of hair on your head is a coded diary of the stress you’ve been exposed to in recent existence, and how cutting open a single weightless strand can decode the stories of fear and tension and comfort and peace. How my sister standing in the yellow afternoon kitchen pulling on dish gloves with a rainbow tie-dye shirt and a red bandana tied up in her newly short hair looked like a painting too vibrant to be real. How a flame traverses the end of a found stick, tugged from the edges of a bonfire, stolen piece of fire flashing purple and red and orange and blue before dying out in your hands.
There are so many things to wonder about, cool rocks to gather into your pockets, a million more questions than we’ll ever have answers for, which is… well.
It’s not right, or wrong, or even particularly beautiful. It could be terrifying. It could feel like an overwhelming blanket of comfort. It could simply be another gray thought in your tired existence.
Whatever the case, if I were sitting beside you, absently twisting my fingers between the bracelets on my right wrist, I’d probably wonder aloud if the things far too big to understand are the only things we can truly be sure of.