Under a night sky

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Despite knowing embarrassingly little about it, I’m so fascinated by the universe.

Stars. Planets. Black holes. Meteors. Gravity.

How much do I regret not paying any attention in my science classes growing up? At some point in my academic career, I determined I didn’t have any aptitude in them. That they weren’t my thing. I wasn’t a math girl, a physics girl; I was a writer. I read books.

I should have known I didn’t have to choose, but I was lazy. I didn’t try.

But, you know. It’s too late for regrets. And the good thing? Though I’m seven years out of college and far longer from high school (!), the quest for learning continues. In the bold digital age, I can learn anything I want with enough time and patience.

It’s pretty awesome, actually.

Spence joined a local astronomy club a few years back, and I’ve gone with him twice to hang out in the observatory and check out the moons and rings of Jupiter in their humongous telescope. Unfortunately, both times have been freezing cold — and I’m a total weakling. After a few hours in the chilly air with hands that have gone numb, I’m out.

But before I reached that point on Saturday, I was able to play around with some long-exposure photography of the night sky. Nothing I saw really comes across well in an image, unfortunately; I’d need some serious skills and probably superior equipment for that.

But what I can try to express? What it feels like to stand beneath an open expanse of sky, where the stars burn brighter than I’ve ever seen them. I stand in the cold, exhale; I think, I am here. I think again of the pale blue dot, of being one human being at a specific point in time in a vast, unpredictable universe.

Sometimes it makes me sad, and other times . . . well, it makes me want to do something. Be something.

I like the latter better.


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Being married to a scientist is a challenge — in a good way — and I revel in the opportunities Spence has to share his knowledge with me. For a while, that intimidated me; my husband just has such a different skill set, you know? Where I excel in the arts and humanities, focusing on language and history and philosophy, he is so grounded in the practical world.

But still, we work. Mostly because we both love to learn, I think, and we’re always learning from each other. I talk to him about famous authors, The Great Gatsby, the outcomes of wars, the culture of far-flung nations. He tells me about gravity and Tesla coils and currents.

And what Spencer can’t tell me, I look up on Wikipedia.

It works.


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