I lay there, in my sleeping bag, under a sky more star than night. My brother beside me, my mother beside him, my father beside me, and my mothers father beside him. Earlier, when our tribe, 3 generations strong, had discussed sleeping tentless beside a Colorodan lake I was petulant, angry even. As angry as a 6 year old can get.
My disapproval of the plan to sleep out under the stars beside that lake surrounded by family was immediately, albeit secretly, revoked as I found myself listening to jumping fish (I loved to fish then, and I think I still do, its just been so long) and looking at that sky. That shimmering, milky swathe of sky unlike any I had ever seen or remembered seeing.
That night has always been a part of my imagined self, my collected set of memories from which I create my personality. It is an indestructible shard of my history (or at least I think that it is indestructible), and it is a vivid, tangible experience for me, still, to this day almost 20 years later.
I remember the dew, I remember my disappointment that we wouldn’t be setting up a tent, I remember thinking that I had never slept under an open sky before. I remember hooking and losing some kind of fish that morning. Most of all I remember the stars. To this day I can’t think of a single memory in which the stars shine so bright, except maybe for a moment looking up and out of a hole in the Laotian jungle canopy on a nighttime bus ride.
So for me that camp site, that lake, that time, those stars, are just as real as the light issued from those self-same bits of dust and gas that captivated a 6 year old Devin Howard. Every single time I look up I look back, in time, across galaxies, and I see the universe not how it was, but how it is, millions or billions of years before, and I see myself and I see my family not how we were but how we are, how I am, there sleeping, beside that lake in colorado, all those years ago.