It was like a hangover but it was not

The woods surrounding us on this night are silent. Just crickets and night birds and the sound of laughter as we walk to the field.

From the backroad we rode in on and then from the trail leading to the field, the sky shone through the trees with longing, leading on and on out over the horizon forever and ever in an azure blaze.

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And we wanted to reach out and touch it, to hold it, but it kept expanding out before us through the blinds of the trees and even when we finally reached our summit, and the world opened up before us, and we spread our blankets out on the soft, giving ground in the middle of this field in the middle of the hills in the middle of the night in the middle of West Virginia — in a valley all graceful and beautiful and wild, all 12 of us — we could tell the blaze had expanded not out but up, and so we felt not so much free and unconstrained but almost and so we …

And so we sat sprawled out on blankets damp from the dew on the ground, gazing up at the stars above us, squinting our eyes and taking aim, pretending to shoot each burned-out sun out of the heavens, and we laughed and only words of peace passed our lips and we thought that it was good and we said that it was good and so it was …

And so it filled our hearts …

But the stars, they only multiplied as the night wore on and the clouds dissipated and we felt outnumbered and comforted because we weren’t so alone out there in that field when the end came at last …

For when the end came at last in the morning, the morning after, the ache in our hearts, it was palpable and ever present in our chests and it stayed with us for all the next day.

It was like a hangover but it was not.

We tried to find words for this ache, but we could not. We thought that by finding words for this ache, we could hold onto that moment and to life and not let it go as it slips by us.

But it would not.

For the night was like letting go from a rope swing, sweeping out over the smooth, peaceful surface below, suspended in the moment — that brief, fleeting moment — just before splashing into the water and sending waves crashing against the shore. It was like that moment but it was not.

It was also then like the moment when feet leave the pedals of a bike and the pedals revolve around and around without the feet and the feet are free from that revolution, but the body is not because it’s coasting down the hill and it’s smiling and laughing and the wind is in its hair and in its eyes, and the eyes are watering and the body feels the tears slip out and roll past it into the distance behind. It was like that moment, but it was not.

For it was of this world but it was not …

And then finally, all we could think of to say about the night was just that — that it was like looking now in a mirror dimly lit and then one day looking at it face to face, beholding that which we’ve always known but could never know because the night had receded with the dawn as quickly as the moon had risen in the sky and our memories, they were just memories, subject to decay and distortion.

And the ache then became a comfort for it was a sign that one day the world would end and we would know fully and we would be full — and it was sweet to our lips and soul as we said these words out loud and walked back to catch our cars.

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