My only memory of stargazing is that of a Japanese drama about a group of college friends whose friendship circle disintegrated once that bubble burst and turned them into wandering, lost twenty-somethings. I’d first watched the show as a child aged ten or so, who wondered what it was like to experience college years with friends you could lean and count on, impatient to experience it for herself.
Tonight I stargazed with a friend, one who is neither close nor distant, in the middle of a desolate parking lot. We were on our way back from the movies, when she stopped me with a tap on my shoulder, pointing up to the night sky. “Look,” she said. “Stars,” I responded stupidly; puzzled. “No, do you see that? Three stars in a line? Three others on its right?” I resisted rolling my eyes; I’ve never been about starry night skies, preferring the darkness of my studio. But I obliged and looked up, squinting my eyes. Well great, I thought to myself, there’s like a dozen up there.
“I… see a lot of stars?”
She took out her iPhone, typed a few letters and clicked a few links, and handed it to me. She had opened an image of a particular constellation. “Orion,” she said. “Do you see the similarity? I’m pretty sure that’s that.” She pointed up to the night sky again. “Three stars forming a line, three more on the right like a tail. Four stars surrounding them to form a rectangle. Do you see it now?”
I squinted hard once more, first curious and then surprised. I compared it to the image she had sourced from Google. “Huh,” I finally responded, “You’re right. Orion.”
On the remainder of our walk back, I asked her when she first noticed this and how she knew to tell it apart from the hundreds, thousands, glittering stars. I did not know this about her but then again, I’d peg us simply as good friends. We are good company to each other because our awkwardness are similar, though she’s wired more scientifically than I am. Her language is through numbers – “Math is easy,” she once said matter-of-factly and I never once doubted that about her – while I swim in rivers of flowing words. She’s one of those people who’re filled with random knowledge, quietly learning the secrets of the universe and will whisper them to you only if you listen well enough.
“This same time last year, I used to return from the library about this hour. I would look up to the stars and often noticed this constellation, so I finally looked online until I found out what it was.”
We stopped one last time, this time standing for a few seconds longer, looking up at the Orion. We fell silent, quietly appreciating this natural wonder. To be honest I was, for lack of a better word, literally starstruck.
I thought I understood something else, too. Rest this weary heart and monstrous distrust; quit overthinking and obsessively trying to define everything and each person in my life that I’ve come across. Maybe they simply are, and love them just the same. I wonder… if each of us is an Orion, shining our lights conspicuously yet proudly against the thick, heavy slab of darkness that we’re time and again surrounded by. I thought of her and shook my head with a smile on my face; who would’ve known? For good measure, I looked up at the sky one more time, committing the Orion to memory.
Do you see it now?