by Tara Costello
It may be kind of cliché, but it’s true that you never know what you are missing until you are able to get a taste of what you lost. When I am away at university, I will miss the weirdest things from home, but I will never notice I’m missing them until I come back and encounter them again. What I realize I’m missing ends up primarily being small stuff like scented hand-soap or fluffy carpeting or, in this case, the sky.
I am still not the biggest fan of the city, despite living in one for two years now. One of the reasons for this is that it is too bright to be able to see the stars. The sky is always starless in the city. You would think that this would make it pitch black, but instead it is some kind of faded grey with a reddish tint. When it is night time I want to see the pretty stars. I would complain about this problem to my city friends, until finally I went home, looked up to the sky at night and saw… the same thing. The sky is definitely darker, but save for a couple of the brighter ones, I couldn’t really see any more stars at home than I could in the city. Turns out the star-studded sky I was idolizing was the sky I see when I go camping up north in the summer. This was really disillusioning to me. There always seemed to be a difference in the sky when I was home compared to when I was in the city, but I guess there was never as much of a difference as I once thought.
However, I have only just recently discovered that there is a difference, but in the day sky rather than the night sky.
It was the first day I had returned home after moving out of residence this year. My younger sister, Erin, ended work at 8pm (coincidentally right around sunset time) and my other sister could not pick her up. I grabbed the keys, calling loudly over my shoulder that I was leaving to pick Erin up, and swung open the front door. As soon as I stepped outside, I stopped. It took me a second to realize that I paused because I saw the sky.
More specifically, I could see the sky when I stepped out of the door. It was right in front of me; I wasn’t looking up because I didn’t need to. The sky actually touched the tops of houses and mingled with the tops of trees. It wasn’t blocked by skyscrapers. It looked so much bigger and it felt so much closer.
A couple of days later I would remember this instance and wonder why it had affected me in such a way. Obviously it was because in the city I had grown used to having to crane my neck to see the sky above the tall skyscrapers (they don’t call them skyscrapers for nothing), but the pause I took seemed longer than just simple shock. This sky was something I had been missing but never noticed I was until now. It’s vastness wasn’t just overwhelmingly beautiful, it was comforting.
In a weird philosophical sense, having the sky seem much closer at home and so far away in the city reflects the atmospheres of both places. The city is stereotypically where people go to achieve their dreams, so obviously the sky should reflect how out of reach these dreams can seem by stretching itself high above the buildings. If the sky’s the limit, then it is a long, hard ways away. At home, the sky is big, letting you know that you are small. It’s inescapable, but in a way that reminds you to take comfort in the fact that the world still turns and certain parts of life will never leave you. It is easier to dream at home because if the sky’s the limit, it seems closer to reach.
And sometimes, especially as I grow up, I miss when things were easier. I miss when the sky was closer and dreams seemed to be a tree-climb away from reaching. I just didn’t know I was missing it like this until the sky made me do a double take.