Week 34: Underneath the Same Big Sky | Everyday Nostalgia

Week 34: Underneath the Same Big Sky | Everyday Nostalgia | A story about loneliness and connections we find in the universe.

I’m standing in front of my mailbox, mindlessly sifting through my Monday mail. Between the grocery store flyers, a postcard reminding me to purchase new tires in preparation for winter weather, and a parking ticket addressed to my apartment’s previous tenant, I’m unimpressed with the day’s delivery.

I’m not paying attention to my surroundings, and as I shut the small metal door of my mailbox, I’m startled to find a man standing next to me. Though I know him—he lives across the small courtyard that separates our apartments—his appearance surprises me and causes the contents of my hands to quickly scatter to the floor below us.

As I kneel down to pick up my mail, he crouches down beside me.

“Oh, you don’t need to help,” I say as I move to gather everything together. “I’ve got it.”

He picks up the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer that lies next to him.

“I’m happy to,” he says, handing it back to me.

I wrap my fingers around the paper and offer a small smile as I thank him and stand back up.

“Hey, it’s the least I can do for scaring you like that,” he laughs.

Though I am well-versed in filling in the pregnant pauses that come with small talk, it’s one of my least favorite things to do. And since my day has been spent tackling an overflowing inbox, putting out multiple work fires, and dealing with other people’s problems, I simply don’t feel like engaging in a conversation right now: I just want to be left alone.

“No worries,” I say. I shift my work bag back up my shoulder and begin to head toward the elevator. He falls in step next to me.

“Do you have your daughter tonight?” he asks.

“Nope, not tonight. But she’ll be back Wednesday,” I say.

“Max will be happy to see her,” he says. His son always loves looking through the rails of their patio, trying to find Zoey on our own.

Once we’re in the elevator together, he turns toward me. “Hey, you can come over for dinner if you want. We’re making sausage and roasted cabbage.”

My introversion and my desire for a quiet night quickly take over. “I appreciate the offer,” I say, “But I’ve got leftovers—and a lot of work—waiting for me tonight.” I point toward my bag, hoping the gesture and its heavy appearance backs up my excuse.

“Maybe some other time, though!” I add, perhaps a bit too brightly.

The elevator dings and the door opens, inviting the two of us to step out into the hallway together.

“Sure thing,” he agrees, giving me a wave. “Good luck with the work.”

I thank him again for his offer and wish him a good night before we go our separate ways. Once I’m inside the safety of my apartment, I close the door behind me and lean against it, letting out an audible sigh. And then, as I’m surrounded by the dark emptiness of my home, I tell myself the lie that I’ve become well-versed in, the one that keeps me company during the nights I am here by myself:

I just want to be alone.

* * *

I toss my mail on the table, hang my purse on a chair, and kick my shoes off onto the floor. A few blades of grass cling to the bottom of the heels. Stuck there by bits of dried mud, I had collected them earlier as I walked up a muddy hill outside work to catch a glimpse of the day’s long-awaited—and absolutely stunning—solar eclipse. Looking back now, I realize those few minutes had been the only moments of my day that I had felt fully and truly alive.

I realize this because my current moment is not one of them.

I pick up my shoes and clean them off while I go to my room. I change my clothes and then walk back to the kitchen and open the refrigerator to assess my food situation. Given that my dinner the night before had consisted of an apple and a granola bar—the bag of popcorn I’d single-handedly eaten at the movie I had taken myself to left me too full for a bona fide meal—and although I’ve told my neighbor otherwise—there are no leftovers in sight. I hastily scramble up an egg and then sit, eating at my kitchen table, looking at pictures of 19 cent bananas, kale-enhanced spring mix, and peanut butter-filled pretzels.

When my food is done and I finish flipping through the flyer, I think about that lie I keep telling myself, the one where I’m happy being by myself, and then I think about the truth. As much as I don’t like to admit it, I feel so terribly lonely, and while I don’t want to be around people that I don’t really know or spending my time meeting new people, I really don’t want to be alone: I just want to be with the people I love.

And though many miles and reasons and circumstances separate us, I want them here right now. I want them sitting at my dinner table, asking me to pass the butter, or standing at the sink, keeping me company while I wash the dishes. I want welcoming hugs and late night conversations and laughter to fill the empty spaces in both my home and my heart.

I sit at my table, motionless, for another half hour, with my walls closing in on me and these thoughts swirling around in my head. And then, after another 15 minutes pass, my thoughts have returned to my fully alive moment of the day. I think of the way the crescent sun had hung high, orange and burning in the sky, trying its hardest to break free from the moon’s shadow, and I realize that the sun isn’t the only thing that’s been obscured today: my loneliness seems to have eclipsed me. Suddenly, I know what I need to do to make myself feel better.

I know where I can go to not feel so alone.

* * *

I grab a sweater and sneak out of my apartment, hoping I don’t accidentally run back into my neighbor. I make my way to the next building and opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator. I climb four flights quickly, and by the time I’m pressing hard against the door that always sticks, I am sufficiently out of breath. But when I step out onto the rooftop, fresh air greets me, and my lungs are sufficiently filled again.

I remember being mesmerized by this rooftop garden when I toured my apartment building, its westward view offering a spectacular, distant sight of the Rocky Mountains. From where the sun sits in the sky, I can tell I’m just in time to witness the day slip into dusk behind those majestic peaks.

I sit down in a comfy chair and wrap my sweater around me. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and let my thoughts finally start flickering to happier things. I recall a night, one quite similar to this one, when Zoey danced on this very rooftop mere days after we moved in.

I remember the happiness that slowly spread across her face as she twirled and leapt and shuffled over the floor’s inset lights, ones that offered the perfect spotlight for her impromptu performance. I remember the way my claps and our collective laughter echoed down to the street below, the way she climbed into my lap so we could watch the sunset together, the way our bright white skin cut across the navy sky as we pointed up toward the twinkling stars that gradually appeared above us, the way our hopeful hearts slowly opened up to this new beautiful unknown.

And now, I think of Zoey a few miles away, safe in bed and sleeping, and I wonder if in her dreams, she is remembering these moments, too. I tell myself she is, and peace settles into those aching spaces in my heart. 

* * *

The sun starts to dip low on the horizon, and the amber slowly fades to blue and the blue eventually slips into midnight. By the time this thick darkness finally settles in, I realize my loneliness has faded alongside the color of the day.

Because as I sit here on this rooftop, I’m under a sky that’s been with me from the beginning. I’m under the same sky that hung heavy on a cold Indiana January morning when my parents held me for the first time. I’m under the same sky that I grew up under, the same one that stayed above me with every move I made. I’m under the same sky that spanned the states I traveled across when I decided to head west. I’m under the same sky that kept me company during Zoey’s early infant midnight and 2 AM and 4 AM feeding sessions. I’m under the same sky that spilled sunlight on the floor the first morning my new chapter began. I’m under the same sky that, by now, surely knows me better than I know myself.

My loneliness has faded, because right now, I have the universe surrounding me. It sits there beside me, welcoming me home, wrapping me up, and passing me memories that offer comfort—ones that remind me that although I am alone sometimes, the company I crave isn’t as far away as it sometimes feels: Because somewhere out there, we’re all underneath this same big sky, most likely all wanting the same thing: Each other.

* * *

Week 34: Underneath the Same Big Sky | Everyday Nostalgia | The Nostalgia Diaries Blog

* * *

I sit in the darkness and wonder: How can I feel so alone? And how can I feel like the people I love are really that far away?

I realize I can’t, because just like this glorious universe, they are with me now, and they are with me always—in my thoughts, in my wants, and in my dreams. They are with me in my heart. 

I’ll take this kind of comfort and company any day—especially this one—so I tilt my eyes toward the heavens and offer up an immense and spectacular prayer of gratitude, one that is only rivaled in size by this infinite—and intimately beautiful—night sky.

How do you combat loneliness when you are away from the people you love? And where do you find peace and comfort in the universe—is it in the sky, the stars, the sun, or the moon? Perhaps you find it in other beautiful things—like flowers or rainbows or majestic mountains? Tell me in the comments—I’d love to know.

Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.


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48 thoughts on “Week 34: Underneath the Same Big Sky | Everyday Nostalgia

  1. What a beautiful and poignant post.

    My 20 year old daughter is just about to leave me alone in Australia while she studies in New York for 2 years. Whilst I know we will be able to contact each other via the wonders of modern technology I will miss her like crazy so no doubt I will spend a lot of time looking up at the stars and wondering what she is doing at that moment in time.

    One of the lovely things we have shared as she grew up was the song you refer to in your title – underneath the same big sky.
    We adore the song from An American Tail “Somewhere Out There” and I even wrote a post about it last year when I was going through my Favourite Song Friday phase.
    I wonder if this song is what inspired your post.

    1. I, too, always adored the song “Somewhere Out There” — it’s such a comforting thought to know that no matter how far away our loved ones are, we hold them close in our hearts.

      My parents are half a country away, and I miss them terribly, so I know how difficult it will be to be apart from your daughter. I’m sure that she will be looking up at the stars often — just like you — thinking of you as well.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. I can’t remember a time when I’ve been lonely per se – maybe it’s because I grew up as an only child in rural Indiana and became very adept at entertaining myself and I’m an extreme introvert who craves alone time and hefty doses of solitude.

    That said, my husband has been away for the past four days on a business trip and I have missed him dreadfully, which feels distinct from lonliness. We don’t have children, so I was more or less alone for those four days and I had a distinct feeling of comfort from our home and our little town (we live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) which seemed to quietly embrace me in my solitude. I was comforted by watching the weather, the birds, my garden, my books and our three kitties.

  3. That is a beautiful post. When I was a little girl, my father would often wake me in the middle of the night to go outside and look at the stars, watch a lunar eclipse, count meteors, our pick out constellations with him. He passed away almost two decades ago, but I often think of him when I’m outside on a clear night and the stars are bright in the sky.

  4. Wow. That is an incredible post. Thank you for sharing! I know something about being in nature or under the sky is it’s own remedy for lonliness as we realise how vast the earth is!

  5. How beautiful! I like reading your blog!
    As far as loneliness is concerned, I like to be alone in crowds. Like a busy coffee shop or something. I only eavesdrop a little bit lol.

  6. This is so lovely. I was reading it like it was a book. Your writing is wonderful and really hits home! I live about 1000 miles away from my closest family members so that lonely feeling creeps in on me sometimes.

  7. A lovely, achingly lonely post that turns into peaceful prose. I turn to reading to fill the void. The characters become my friends and I get wrapped up in their lives.

  8. In my city beacsue of the pollution sky remain unclear. I miss those choldhood days when we use to sit outside late night to see stars. Your post reminded me about those memories. 🙂

  9. Next time take your neighbor up on the offer of dinner. Watching a movie, reading a book or sometimes just a soak in the tub and bed is the answer.

  10. This is the most beautiful post I have read in the longest time. Your writing just flows, keeping the writer intrigued and entertained.

    I can also relate to the sentiment of the post. My parents and family live in India, thousands of miles and sometimes I miss having them at the dinner table and our arguments about the most mundane things.

    ❥ tanvii.com

  11. What a beautifully written post! I think it is very easy to feel lonely in the busyness of modern day life – I find that even though I am surrounded by people all day I still feel as though I am missing human connections at a deeper level.

  12. Goodness this is lovely. The next time I’m missing someone far away I’m going to look up at the sky and remember that we’re all under the same sky.

  13. Beautifully written friend! I feel like this a lot. Except sometimes its when I am surrounded by people. who I love and love me but just have no real idea what Im going though. I never knew why I always find myself outside when I feel like this but now I do! Somewhere out there, someone who does know, is underneath the same sky as me! Love love love this!

  14. Thank you for sharing this post. Loneliness is a strange thing. Normally I don’t mind it; I love the quiet and the time to reflect. There are other times, however, when I need those whom I love nearby. All of my family lives at least a half country away, so when those moments hit, it can be tough. I often head out for a walk with my dog, and I call them up to chat. Simply hearing their voice is always a comfort to me.

  15. Wow. Your posts always leave me breathless. I’ve had the same thought so many times–that while we’re always so concerned with personal events here on Earth, the same sky and the wider universe are surrounding us the entire time, connecting us in a way that we so rarely stop to think about.

  16. I am an extrovert but have also experienced the feeling of loneliness. After the death of my mother and grandmother and deciding to leave my long time job, I found myself with too much quiet and in essence loneliness. I found peace in many of the same things you have mentioned here. Knowing the energy of the universe and the truth of my faith system pulls me through. I’ve also learned to simply reach out to my friends and husband as they often don’t know what I am feeling.

  17. This is beautiful. And I’ve been right there with you so many times. I don’t know if I’m an introvert or an extrovert, but I know I’m confusing. I want to be alone — I crave that time. And I always have. But somehow I also must be ‘doing’ things.

  18. Great writing! And so cool that your apartment has a rooftop you can go to. I’ve gotten used to the loneliness as I live far away from my family and best friends.

  19. This is so beautifully heartfelt. It is so heart wrenching to be away from those we love. I like to read a story to my daughter called “The Invisible String” where a mom describes to her children how we are always connected to those we live with an invisible string. It is such a perfect reminder that we are connected even when we are at a distance. Just as this post is!

  20. Being lonely and wanting to be alone are def. very different. Like you said while you like having “me time” that doesn’t mean you don’t want others close by. I’m pretty lucky that I have lots of people close by. But, I like to turn up the tunes, read a book, or sew when I’m feeling down.

  21. <3 <3 <3

    This is just lovely.

    And it conjured up memories of the Song Somewhere Out There for me, too, so it was nice to see referenced above.

    I remember feeling this way. Moving to a new city. Not knowing many people. Feeling alone even in the midst of crazy and frantic and people and life.

    Sometimes we just need to be with our people to feel that sense of comfort–the ones who understand always, even when we don't have to say a word. I get it.

    I like the loneliness, but sometimes, I'm crippled by it, too. I have a strange relationship with being alone, because I crave companionship but have social anxiety and sometimes I just prefer to be by myself. Basically I confuse even myself 🙂

    Sending much love and thank you for sharing your beautiful words with us.

  22. I feel like you wrote a day from my life. This is written is such a casual yet intriguing way – you pulled me in after the first few sentences.

  23. What a beautiful post! I felt every emotion you described. Not quite the same, but an example: when my oldest started kindergarten, he and I sewed little felt hearts together. I told him if he ever felt lonely, he could put his hand in his pocket and feel the heart I sewed. This way he would have a bit of me with him and it could make him feel better. It worked really well and I still have his little heart.

  24. Being away from my family always make me lonely. Sometimes it’s really unbearable, but calling on God everyday help me get up and see the positive things. This story is inspiring. You write well.

  25. This is such a lovely and beautiful post…. When I’m missing my family that are so very far away, I like to go sit in my garden and look at the stars…. this was something I did as a little girl with my grandma and it brings me comfort….

  26. I have a chair out beside our wildflower field. Day or night it is a place of comfort and critters. And refueling for my soul. Thank you for sharing your place. And thank you for asking about ours.

  27. At this stage in my life, it’s hard to find time to be alone, so loneliness is not a struggle right now. But, I do understand the choice to be alone, even when lonely, rather than spend time with people you don’t know well. I am an introvert too, and I can find socializing exhausting.

  28. Being alone is hard but sometimes that is the choice we make. Looking up at the stars and thinking about something bigger than yourself is very moving.

  29. We really are never alone, are we? A couple weeks ago while there were meteor showers raining in the skies I took the kids out to watch. Our universe is truly amazing!

  30. I always have my dog when my son and husband aren’t home so I don’t feel alone. That was a very honest, insightful post.

  31. Being far away from family, partaking in some very lonely careers (writing, blogging, adjuncting), and not having children, I feel loneliness quite a bit, particularly during summers off. Starting a blog helped some this year, and I like to get out to a coffee shop to write or read, but your rooftop garden also sounds lovely!

  32. It’s way past bedtime and I have a sponsored post to finish and I wonder why the Coke Zero I’ve guzzled hasn’t kept me afloat. And when my eyes kept failing me, I knew I needed something stronger. this post.

    I’ve been away a long time, but the words came easy on my eyes nonetheless. The familiarity, the comfort in your writing voice. The idea that I know where you’re coming from, but that you’ll surprise me with your words.

    I used to tell the girls to find the moon on nights we were apart and that I would too. It reminds me of how love must be passed off the face of the moon. It might make it shine brighter even.

    Here’s hoping that next time we feel this way, maybe you and I will find the moon. Seems like a good spot for kindred spirits.

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