There are no stars in the north Brooklyn sky at night. And when I say none, I mean really, truly, almost zero.
After six years in these parts, their absence begins to seem normal. You actually forget that it’s not natural to look to the spire at the top of the Chrysler Building, and to the rest of the Manhattan skyline, for illumination after dark. You notice the moon maybe once a month, when it’s red and hanging low in the sky.
Every couple of months I take the train up to visit my sister and her partner in Massachusetts. We sit in their living room and watch the sun set over the mountains, and I’m always astonished to see the pinpricks of light appear on the horizon. I remember then how, back in Gainesville, nighttime drives across Paynes Prairie took my breath away.
I haven’t visited Florida in nearly a year and a half. That’s the longest time I’ve gone without setting foot in the state since my parents moved there when I was two. Maybe that’s why I’m compelled to be outdoors lately.
My Brooklyn friends hate the summer heat, but I don’t mind it. I mind the lack of trees and flowers and stars, and the glare of the sun on the asphalt. I mind that the square of sand that brought my friends and me a few weekends of joy has been overrun with hipsters.
Bottom line: you know you need a break from the city and your life here when you start reading W.S. Merwin’s “Unchopping A Tree” as an instruction manual.