It started slowly. A low inconsistent hum, unsteadily building up into a sharp steaming whistle, breaking the silence of the night. He slipped on a faded blue oven mitt and picked up the scalding pot, placing it onto the stone counter top. One cup of tea before bed was the normal routine, or at least it had become his nightly regiment when he moved to the South West. The nights were much colder than back in LA. It was similar, they were both deserts- although one would not know it from the amount of flowers and trees blooming from the side of the road daily. No, it was much colder at night here. It was beginning to be that time of year where your breath would cloud and the Aspen leaves would create golden streaks running across the thick groves. He didn't know it at the time, he was still new, but after that autumn the images would resonate in his head. It's hard to not have that kind of beauty leave a mark.
Throwing a sweater on he wandered into the dimly lit streets. As the door slammed behind him the cold air brushed his cheeks, carrying with it the undertones of fall. His small adobe house stood at the dead end of a street. Where the pink pools of night-lamps light ended, and the black darkness began. Just beyond it was an empty field of dirt and rocks. Such an odd concept he thought, an empty space within a city. Another odd change he found was the quiet. The absence of helicopters, traffic, city din, and barking dogs (well, that wasn't quite true, on occasion dogs and coyotes would pepper the night with noise until their throats went sore). He walked down the street and into the dark field, his tea leaving a faint ethereal ghost tail behind. Keeping the cup between his hands he peered about the dark field, letting his night vision settle in.
Soon the dark night sky began to separate itself from the black horizon, and the stars began to appear like thin needle pricks through a dark cloth. He hadn't quite gotten used to the stars yet, the sheer magnitude of the heavens. He had always known there was sky. He knew there were pink sunsets, gray overcast days, rainy dark days, clear moonlit nights where the entire world was a pale blue. But he never really knew the night sky until he moved. He looked about and tried to imagine constellations, he knew there was the big dipper, and there must be the little dipper. The only thing he knew of stars from back home was the north star sometimes, and Venus, which of course was a planet, and not a star at all.
Venus glowed a dull pink color, matching the dull pink of the LA night sky, and was the only thing bright enough to pierce through the light pollution in the small blot of sky he could see from his hot tub. That was about all he knew about Venus, that and he was a Gemini, which meant he must have some intellectual rapport with someone before he loved them. That he learned from some book that was the planet where women came from, and no where near the planet men came from. He scanned the heavens for his old friend, that ball of pink gas burning in the sky. As his eyes began to become more and more accustomed to the night sky he began to notice more and more stars, like a billion small Christmas lights in vast darkness. There were almost too many, he couldn't determine which was his planet, that single heavenly body he could recognize. The earth and heavens danced in rotation as he stood solid like a statue; watching.
His tea slowly became tepid from the cold night. He was disappointed, sad, lonely. He couldn't understand why it was so difficult to find something he had known for so long. He knew what his planet looked like, he had it for all those years in the city. It was the only thing he knew of his night sky. But this wasn't his night sky anymore. It was huge. It was a dark blue tarp lit up by thousands of bright diamonds. It was the kind of night sky tribal wise-men and poets would write about, admiring its beauty. But it wasn't his night sky. It wasn't what he knew. Amongst the beauty and the vastness he lost the only thing he knew of night.
Defeated and holding an empty cup of tea in his hands he walked back to the warmth of street lights. His feet shuffled across the dry rocky flats, kicking up unseen dirt with each foot step. Walking up the wooden stairs to his house he made a promise to himself- tomorrow I'm buying an constellation book.