Stargazers

at 12:35 AM

Long after midnight, my family clusters on our front lawn, gazing up at the only patch of sky not blotted out by tree leaves. My dad points and announces the time while my mom, my sister and I bounce in place -- chilly but cheerful in pajamas and tennis shoes. Whatever we are waiting for hasn't come 'round just yet. So we keep waiting, chins up, for it to happen.

We must look utterly insane.

A neighbor soon appears beside us, quietly following our gazes up to the sky and back to our upturned faces. "W-watcha doin' there?" he finally asks. My dad, an armchair astronomer, launches into an eager explanation: "The SPACE STATION will be visible at exactly this o'clock, headed from this direction to that direction, AND it will only be visible for this many minutes and somesuch seconds!!!" He is trembling with anticipation.

Our neighbor listens patiently, slowly studies each of us, nods once, and declares: "Well, you've got to be yourself."

With that, he quickturns and walks back home, leaving us to our stargazing.

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We all giggle through the oddly punctual appearance of the Space Station lights. We laugh our way back into the house. We laugh now, years later, every time one of us makes an inexplicable decision based on the expectation of some tiny glimmer in the dark. We stubbornly support each other's passions, even when it makes us all look a little loopy. We keep working, chins up, to make it happen. And always, we remember: "Well, you got to be yourself."

With a Perspective, I'm Monica Alicia Bland.

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Monica Bland is a freeland writer and photographer in the Bay Area.

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