I can recount four times since starting college, that I laid out under the night sky around midnight, basking in temperature so ideal you wouldn’t change a single fraction of a degree. The first night was first year, in the aftermath of a Summer Breeze party. Keerthi and I had plopped on the grass by Eckhart, moon gazing in silence, until some guy asked if we were ok. The second time was alone outside the front of the Reg, on one of the stone benches, while listening to One Republic’s All This Time. May 2nd, 2014 – freshly broken-up and so I wanted to do something dramatic. Third was under a tree crawling with spiders, on a bench in the very center of the quad, trying to feel the weight of the hours left before graduation, after which I could no longer lie around in random campus places inconspicuously. And finally, last night, sunk into my white plastic beach chair at a resort in Ain Sokhna, as the Red Sea inched closer.
Everything became crystal clear and every movement was registered. The slight breeze winding over the curve of my exposed stomach and tickling the hairs on my shins. The crunchy texture of my salt encrusted bangs. The grains of sand exfoliating the crevices between my toes as I wiggle them around, enjoying their freedom outside of Birkenstocks leather.The omnipotent presence of that odd, bulky military ship docked off shore with white and orange paint. Unlike any of my previous midnight sojourns, I could actually see the stars.
On the bus ride out to Ain Sokhna, I read a Joan Didion essay in which she expressed the passage of her time in New York as walking through a revolving door at age twenty-two and emerging out the other side at thirty. When did being present become so difficult? Are we ever conscious of it? Can the passage of time be felt everyday, or does it only exist in retrospect? Grasping a moment, tying it down and wrestling it to the ground – that struggle tends to only happen before a longterm goodbye, and is not the most peaceful of feelings. I was never one for resort life, but the stillness at Ain Sokhna was powerful and oh so soothing.