star charts

by rachel

When I was four, I believed I was immortal. Or rather, when I was four I believed six was the age of infinity. And that is why my email address is – four year old me had thought ahead. “When I am six, it’ll be exactly my age”. I clearly never thought I’d grow up.

But I did. I grew up to learn to stand with my tummy tucked in, toes pointed, every inch of my seven year old self straining for perfection that was never really in me. I grew up gazing at my ballet teacher through a faltering telescope. Every star that followed the other faded slowly into oblivion along her freckled earlobes, her piercings tracing a constellation in the milky way. Because when you are so small, everything looks so big.

As I strained my neck to reach for the single constellation I began plotting the pathway of my life about it. I wonder if you can plot a graph of every light that has been in your life from your birth till now. That first flood of light that takes you whole as you swim out of your mother’s womb, I cannot remember it, it doesn’t count.

The second is the yawn of day crawling through foreign blinds in a country where the sun wakes at 4 am instead of 7. The third the fireflies that evade me by dancing through trees that at 14, I had forgotten how to climb. The fourth lightning as it cast its blistering shadow over the thinning plastic as we watched the silhouette of yesterday’s laundry fly off our tent.

Can we plot a graph that traces the fireflies, the blistering nights and everything in between? I am only searching for a thread that will bind me to the constellations I’ve been tracing since my birth. Because with the stars running further and further away from us, their trails turning redder and redder in their wake, my eyes can only mirror the star trails as I chase after their shadows in the dark. Physicists tell us that when an object moves further away from you, it’s light grows increasingly red.

All I can tell you is that as birth moves further and further away from me, my light is burning out.