My brother went to hockey camp in what I call northern Ontario but was probably considered by most as central Ontario. It was far enough north for me to endure a painfully long car ride, staring out the window as the trees made me dizzy, dancing by faster than my eyes could keep up.
I would play a melancholic CD on my walkman and imagine some conjured up romance in my head, between myself and a mysterious figure. Too young to imagine what I wanted, but desperately wanting something greater than what I had.
After hours of poorly produced mental film direction, we arrived in a quaint wooded area where myself, my sister, and my mom and dad—still together at the time—lodged up in a few cabins while we waited to retrieve my brother. A collection of fellow hockey families who my parents befriended were all staying at this isolated resort for one night to justify the long ride to nowhereville.
I remember scoffing at the word resort. I had seen enough pictures on bus benches and Hep A commercials to understand what a real resort looked like, and this roadside horror set had no all-inclusive buffets in sight. My feeling upon arrival was not one of admiration.
The cabins were speckled throughout a thick Canadian brush and hugged the perimeter of a sparkling lake that stretched into the sky without end. We arrived late and so my first impression was the landscape enveloped in darkness. We unpacked our things.
I guess I was fed up after being hip to hip with my sister in the back of a box-shaped vehicle rattling down the highway and needed some expansive breathing room in the form of a beach. I ventured off from our post and broke through the tree lining onto a sandy ribbon of land. It was a humid night in the depths of summer and the air was weighing on me comfortably like a shall.
I kicked off my shoes and walked through the sand. The lake was velvety blue, and the waves were being gently caressed by the wind, evoking a perfect sound of water on water, waves on shoreline. I fell back into the sand. It was warm enough to lay on and I had no reservations about returning to my cabin with my hair tangled in grains that were sure to sprinkle down my sheets and tickle my back.
I felt careless in the liberating sense.
This could have been any old night, but it’s as if my consciousness was set on fire in that moment when I looked up into the clear milky sky. Like a photo being snapped on an old fashioned camera, burning the image into my memory for a lifetime. Sometimes I wonder if my brain is ever ravaged by the cruel fate of dementia, if I’ll close my eyes and still see those stars the same way I saw them that night, as if for the first time.
I felt the world crack open and spill out every possibility.
I thought about why I was born this person and not seeing through the eyes of another. I thought of how easily my consciousness was just the same as anyone else; the same being peering through different glasses. I thought of the realms that most likely existed behind every single star. I felt drunk with possibility and alive like never before.
I no longer felt like a young child who listened to her walkman with angst in the backseat of her family’s SUV. I felt the wisdom far beyond my own seeping through my worldly perception. I felt that this wisdom was me and yet far beyond the me I had come to know.
This night is significant because I come back to it. When I lay my head down, the memory feels incredibly distant and yet sharp in feeling. I am brought back to that lakeside and I am cradled by that starry sky. I often, fall asleep dreaming about it. It’s the moment I greeted my true consciousness in the company of earth, and trees, and childlike wonder.