We got here just before dusk. Or maybe it was just plain dusk. By the time I had taken the tour and wrapped my head around the abundance of hot tubs and Ms Pac-Man machines, there was hardly any light left. I know we are high up, but I wasn’t able to determine the true altitude. And yet I still stepped out into the darkness.
The first thing I noticed was the swirling lights. Dainty, majestic little green things. They did their synchronized dance around a tall tree. It was hypnotizing, unsettling and uncomfortably uniform. It took far too long to realize that they were projected LED lights that somebody put there. No, I did not step out into a world of magic, where fireflies do swarming dances. Nope. I was definitely still on the porch of a rented cabin of a host with weird taste in lighting.
I settled into the chair, sipped the Turkey deeply and enjoyed the void. Crickets are abound, but I’m still ultimately existing in a negative space. I can hear my own breath and the cows from far away. The occasional car in the distance, seemingly a million miles away. As am I, to them. And after a few moments, my eyes started to adjust.
Slowly, the stars start to come into view. At first I was disappointed to not have a Pollockian clusterfuck of novas, but I appreciated each and every one that decided to show their face. I even saw some old friends. The ones that I would wish upon from the backseat of my Mom’s car, always asking for the same things, never knowing if they would actually come true. I made the wish again for old time’s sake.
I can trace the mountains with my finger and point out each and every individual light that resides on it. Each light is just a little dot, but it represents so much more. Each light is a home. A collection of stories that have lasted a lifetime. Those lights might not represent any good people, or any that I would see eye-to-eye with, but their light is important just the same. And I’ll never know those people. They will always just be the tiny little dots that I spied on one random evening. And with a bit of luck, maybe one of those lights are looking out and seeing my light, wondering who in the hell I was but coming to the same conclusion. But of course, neither of us will ever know.
The valley down below is still a total mystery. I can only guess how far down it goes or what’s even there. All I can do is sit and paint the space around me. Suddenly, a car came careening across the valley, appearing to be much closer than I expected. But yet, there’s no logical way or path for that car to reach me. For all intents and purposes, the car is flying in outer space, as it’s merely traveling across the void that I have no mental image of. The sound of the car down below shakes something deep in my core. It reminded me of when I would have to sleep at a place close to the highway. As a kid, it made me extremely anxious. I would lay awake all night, the car noises reminding me that I was far away from home. As I grew older, it gave me comfort. I thought about the lives of the people driving by and it helped me fall asleep. It’s a technique that I still use to this day. I’ve always been a voyeur of sound and out here in the middle of nowhere, I can pick apart every single sound that I encounter. I have the space and time to analyze all of it. It’s a gift from the universe that I shouldn’t take for granted.
Why am I so scared? I’ve survived 34 years without anything going terribly wrong and yet, I always feel like something is wrong. While I was able to find comfort in the cars that made me anxious, I still can’t help but fear all of the unknown valleys that I encounter. Is it all really that simple? Do I just fill in the blanks with my imagination and make them less menacing? I pondered this for a moment, until I heard a brand new sound. A rustle. From right behind me. I saw a figure walk into the moonlight and we both froze. I was face-to-face with a baby fox. I was the first to make a movement and he went scampering into the darkness. I went back to my thinking for a second, but then I heard even louder rustling. With that, I picked up my shit and got inside.
I’m not sure how protective mother foxes are and frankly, I wasn’t ready to find out.
Some valleys are best discovered in the daylight.