I was with my sister when I saw them.
It’s good to have a witness—someone to tell you the ghost or noise was real when you try to talk yourself out of it later.
We saw the rare Undulatus Asperatus—the clouds of the Gods—on a cool Virginia afternoon.
Cars pulled over. Strangers stood shoulder-to-shoulder, silently gazing skyward, shock-stopped in their rush-hour tracks. It was like the last scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Beneath these strange clouds, Earth was not Earth. I stood in an alien world, my body new to the soul inside it, every inch of skin reporting textures and tinglings in vivid detail.
There’s nothing like the new standing where the familiar used to be. Van Gogh had painted the ocean into the sky, leaving it frothy and touchable. If only I could’ve touched it.
That was years ago. Ten, if not more, in the time of jeweled jeans and Fergalicious.
Still, I look for them every day. I look in skies that have no chance of creating them. When the air is too dry, too clear, too thin. Like a child, I cry out again, again, again. But my hunger only hints it wasn’t just a first-in-a-lifetime but a once-in-a-lifetime.
Sometimes, I envy our younger selves for experiencing the first sight of trees and sky, the first touch of snow. I wonder if we had the reference to feel reverence.
But then, I watch a baby marvel at the clouds and know we did. I only wish we could remember. Maybe that’s why I gave the characters in The Longblood the ability to have “a thousand firsts” be theirs again. If only I could do the same for you and me.
Truth is, maybe it’s possible. . . after all, there’s a sensory feast around us, always. And if we are forever new, wouldn’t that make the world around us new, too?
But we forget, we rush on, our eyes trained on expectations and goal setting and coupon expiration dates.
Then, on our way to Target to get trash bags because they’re on a two-for-one, the sky that should shock us every day with its beauty shocks us with its beauty.
And for long moments we stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder, the air crackling with our collective awe.
And we remember.
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