“That guy has pants that zip into shorts,” I noted, and we all giggled as quietly as we could.

“That old man is wearing women’s pants–look at the zipper!” said someone else.

The field trip had advertised stargazing, but since only four stars were visible in the overcast sky, we had taken to talking about old people’s pants. The vast majority of the night’s crowd was elderly, though there were a few of us from our summer camp. On the edge of the crowd, a younger girl, obviously on her own, was taking notes.

The Vermont sky, though cloudy, still had some strange glow about it; it seemed even more mystical when I remembered that some of the stars behind the clouds weren’t even there, having burned out in the time it took for their light to reach earth. Of the few stars I could see, I was looking at their past.

“Is that brown denim or khaki?”

I used to be able to talk to people for hours on end. Now in my normal life I can barely stand anyone.

“Who would make brown denim?”

But when I’m far away from that, here at camp, I can tolerate everything. Enjoy some things, even.

“Shut up, look at the stars.”

I know that eventually I have to go back home. I love my family, but I will miss it here, and the feeling of being carefree. I don’t know if I can stand another moment of tension.

“What stars?” ♦