Summer is almost within arm's reach here in the Philippines. But in my heart and mind, there exist pockets where it's always summer: a clear summer night at any of the secluded beaches embracing at least some part of each of the 7,000+ islands that make up this country. No, I don't know which particular beach it is or even precisely where it's located. Nor do I care. All I know is that it's one of my mind's regular haunts.
The sea is calm, with only the slightest of undulations that bob me gently up and down as I float on my back, arms stretched out, hair fanning the area around my head, as naturally as the seaweed beneath me. I glimpse my toes peeping out of the water, water that feels almost balmy. Water that I know is blue in the harsh glare of daylight but looks a soothing grey and an enchanting silver under the benevolent glow of the moon. I make no movements of my own to stay afloat; the sea cradles me (is this how an infant feels in the womb?) with only my face and the tips of my toes exposed to the night air, my ears attuned to the soft whoosh whoosh sound that one hears beneath the water's surface. That, and each inhale and exhale, and the steady beating of my heart. These sounds are calming.
Time slows down to almost a standstill, and it feels like I'm on the cusp of Forever. In that moment I am one with the universe. I can ask for nothing more.
My body can't help but welcome the cocoon created by the sea. In the same way, my eyes can't help but be in awe of the wondrous sight of the night sky. The inky blackness of the heavens is dotted with millions upon millions of twinkling stars, and once in a while a shooting star takes center stage. They say one should make a wish at the sight of a shooting star. But what is there left to wish for, when one feels herself to be in a time and state of perfection?
I gaze upon the stellar form of the Queen of Ethiopia sitting in her heavenly chair; I try--and fail--to locate the piscine shapes taken by Eros and Aphrodite. No matter, I know they're there anyway. My hand rises momentarily from the shelter of the ocean, a finger extending to trace an imaginary line--playing connect-the-dots--to link Ursae Major and Minor. But are they bears or dippers? I whisper the words into the night, testing them, and decide that labels don't matter. Surely the existence of the heavenly bears--or dippers--does not depend on what a girl floating on her back in the night in an ocean on a speck in the universe decides to call them.
Starlight. Constellations. Stars. Strange--and inexplicably sad somehow--to think that so many of the sources of such beauty and brilliance no longer exist.