“Do you want to watch the meteor shower with me tomorrow night?” My friend asks me.
In other news, romance is not dead folks.
A few years ago we had a wraparound extension done on our house, leaving a flat roof outside the bathroom window. The bathroom window also opens all the way. Human nature has begged me for years to venture out onto the roof but for some reason I never did. Don’t tell me why not. At one point the whole plan was to use it as social space. I’ve got a photo of the one time my dad put a solitary chair up there and sat out. It’s a nice height window and you really don’t have to be Simone Biles to climb out there. So why have I never done it?
Wish I knew.
Until the last couple of nights, that is. I’ve done all sorts this year to push me out of the norm. Starting new jobs, solo travel, learning new skills…..sitting on the roof……
Anyway, so the last few nights I’ve stood out there with a blanket for like 10 minutes at a time enjoying the night sky, remembering the constellations my dad showed me when I was little and trying to spot a few Starlinks (not as impressive as everyone makes out).
So Tuesday night rolls around – peak night, so say the scientists – and I’m bundling myself up in socks and joggers and jumpers and throwing snacks ahead of me out of the window. Thankfully my brain held it together long enough not to throw the tea. No, I placed that gently just outside the window and even remembered not to step on it.
I lay out my blanket. I lay out my sleeping bag. I settled down and waited for my phone screen to light up with the FaceTime call.
And that was it. Just me, alone on the roof, staring into infinity with my friend’s voice in my ear.
There was something so bizarre about being in the place I know best in the world – my own home – and yet being in a part of it that’s so unfamiliar. Looking at the garden and the houses on either side and the road going past from a completely different angle.
We talked for a couple of hours. We talked about the mundane. We talked about the groundbreaking. Philosophy and life plans and Netflix and old school gossip. We saw some nice shooting stars, including one with the longest tail I’ve seen. My cat joined me, rejoicing that one of the clumsy humans learned to climb so high.
My phone ran out (have I mentioned it’s not charging properly?) which was a less than conclusive end to the conversation, but I’m sure my friend understands. I hope she does. Dude, if you’re reading this, please understand.
I stayed there for a while longer, until the chill started to seep in. If I’d had just one extra layer I might have been tempted to stay out. Then I gathered everything up into the blanket and said goodbye to infinity.
As I ever so gently plopped the bundle of blankets onto the bathroom floor and hopped in after it, I saw my brother’s bewildered face staring at me. This lad, my not-so-baby brother, who stays out later than I dared at his age and ventures farther, was out of his mind when I told him where I’d been.
“I was on the roof,” I said, to explain the blankets he was staring at in confusion.
He turned theatrically and stared at the bathroom window, before looking back at me as if I were some kind of nutter.
“Stargazing,” I elaborated.
He did the theatrical double take thing again and ran to the window. I heard it open and imagined him popping his head out and looking left and right. Not sure what he was looking for. Checking the sky did indeed have stars in it? I could have confirmed that for him.
Was nice to catch up with him actually. He has no GCSEs now, so his life consists mostly of PlayStation gaming with his friends, and our daily schedules don’t coincide much. Unless I’m stargazing on the roof at 2am.