The sand’s heat has relaxed through the long afternoon, and a faint sliver of a moon has made its way over the trees, wriggling in between the stars. The bonfire has slow-burned through the night, down to embers, and our bellies are full when the three of us venture out into the dunes. Flip-flops are abandoned in the dark. Matt carries a Tupperware of cool white wine as our feet sink, silent, into liquid white sand.
A snake, early on, wriggles into the grass, which will leave me on edge for the rest of the night. Regardless, we crest one sand dune after another, traversing from one wearily-circling lighthouse to another. The expanse of sky above us is pinpricked with stars, and we all foolishly come to lay in the sand, despite our recent showers. I strategically place myself between the guys – I haven’t forgotten that snake.
Conversation turns to astronomy as we drink in the constellations, a chunk of sky which is different from Vancouver, which is different from Cabarete. It’s hard to feel centered without the Big Dipper, so I focus on tracing the Southern Cross. I need to find a new anchor. Talk drifts from dead stars to black holes to the shape of the universe, and then as it always does when you’re looking at the stars, it drifts into the territory of the unknown. I realize it’s hard to find true atheists; something in us fights tooth and nail to seek out transcendence.
We shake out not nearly enough sand, scratch at it in our hair, do loops on loops until I can’t tell one lighthouse from the second. When we finally end up on the slope to the campsite, we stop to spin on a scraggly swing, then sink back down to sitting, to laying, unable to quite say goodnight to our midnight adventure. And as astronomy talks always do, we start to dig into ourselves, learn a little more about each other, ask questions which would seem nosy coming from others.
When the yawns finally blossom into the dark and silence begins to stretch, we leave our talks behind, on the campside dune by the knotted tree. The sliver of a moon has disappeared, the stars have shifted, and we’ve drunk in enough shooting stars to get us through a heavy sleep.