The beer in my glass is still cool enough to make this night feel fresh and special. Our backyard is more a haven for kids than adults, and it looks like a tornado ripped through this spot no matter how many times I re-right the playhouse and the Little Tykes foot-powered car. Because they never play with these things the way the designers had in mind: the car becomes a rowboat, turned on its side, and the house, fully upside-down, becomes a cavern full of unknown dangers. Luckily, there’s no HOA around here to complain. And I’m not looking down, anyway.
The sky is clear and big tonight. With the back porch lights off, the stars are inviting me in, and I stare at them and the spaces between, trying to forget that I can’t fall up and imagining myself consumed, swallowed by the celestial beauty.
I’d left the last beer for my husband, but he’s still at work and all of the kids are asleep. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I had the rest. I was the one who put three kids to bed tonight, after all.
My son is out of bed and standing behind me in his 5T baby yoda pajamas, his belly poking out beyond the waistband and his bedhead in full glory.
Well, why not? I reach out my free arm and he slides into my lap magnetically. Automatically, I set the glass off to the side so he doesn’t knock it over in his sleepy haze.
“What are you doing out here?”
“Just looking,” I say. His weight on my chest grows heavier as he leans back to watch the sky, too.
“I’m up there.” He points up, just to the left of Orion’s belt.
He nods, resolute. “I’m up there in my space ship right now.”
I wrap my arms around the front of his chest and nuzzle his Johnson&Johnson-scented hair. “Silly. You’re here with me.”
He wrestles away, his arms losing a bit of their sleepy sandbag feeling. “I am. I’m there. I’m here and I’m there. That’s me, in the rocket. I’m watching us here from space.”
For a half second, I want to explain to him that it’s impossible for a person to be in two places in once, or to tease him that he must be dreaming. And maybe it’s because it’s late, that I don’t have much fight left in me, and this space between bathtime and his teething brother’s first cry of the night is precious to me. Or maybe it’s just that it feels wrong to be so sure of things while surrounded on all sides by nature’s stunning artistry.
So I don’t rationalize or tease. Instead, I lean back, wave at my son, the astronaut, up in the sky. Who made me the authority on what’s really possible, anyway?